|Summer Bird Watching at Bombay Hook
National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware
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We toured Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Delaware, USA on a hot summer day in late
August 2010 and saw many white colored birds about 200 yards away plus some shore birds at closer
distance in Shearness Pool. On the Delaware Bay, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is part of the
Atlantic Flyway, the route used by huge number of migratory birds when they migrate between Canada and the
Gulf of Mexico. The migratory paths of some shorebirds are even longer, from northern Canada all the way to
Argentina in southern tip of South America.
A closer view of a black glossy ibis.
Zoom in for a closer view of one of the snowy egrets with black bill and black leg on a tree.
Many fiddler crabs running side way very fast on the bank of Raymond Gut.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is home to one of the largest tidal salt marshes in the United States
and has long served as a critical resting stop for huge number of migratory birds, such as snow geese. The
refuge offers fantastic broad vistas of tidal salt marsh along the Delaware Bay - more than 12,000 acres of
undeveloped habitat for various kinds of wildlife. The tidal salt marsh supplies organic materials for the food
chain, circulates nutrients, provides nesting habitat for waterfowl and serves as a nursery area for fish. A
variety of waterfowl nest in the marsh. Therefore, Bombay Hook is a popular destination for birders and
Butterfly and wild flowers along the hiking trail to an observation tower near the Raymond Pool. I was standing
many feet away from the butterfly and used the super-zoom capability of my camera to zoom in to take this
close up picture without scaring away the beautiful butterfly.
The address of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, Smyrna, Delaware
19977. Phone: 302-653-6872. It is in central Delaware along the western shore of the Delaware Bay, 7
miles east of Smyrna, and 8 miles northeast of Dover, in Delaware, USA.
From Highway 9 (Hay Point Landing Rd) east of Smyrna, turn east into Whitehall Neck Road (county road
85), and go east for 2.5 miles all the way to the end. The Visitor Center is on left side. (There is a sign of
Bombay Hook NWR on Highway 9 at the intersection of Whitehall Neck Road and Highway 9).
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Visitor Center of Bombay Hook NWR
Map: Click here to see detailed Tour Route Map of Bombay Hook NWR
After touring Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, some visitors may be hungry and looking for a place
to eat. The DuPont Blvd (Highway 13) in Smyrna is a busy business area with many stores, strip shopping
centers and restaurants.
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing Highway 13 in Smyma
There were some American Avocets with very slender upturned bill plus some other shore birds closer to us
while we were on the 12-mile auto tour route.
While driving on the 12-mile auto tour route, we also saw many egrets on trees
Many small fish in Raymond Gut, which is the tidal stream running along the edge of the tidal salt marsh.
One of several frogs on the boardwalk. A 0.25-mile Boardwalk Trail takes visitors through four different
habitats in Bombay Hook to explore and observe tidal salt marsh, Raymond Gut, fiddler crabs, small fish,
birds and other wildlife.
Zoom in slightly for a closer look. Many of the white colored birds were busily flying in the air in addition to
many more on the ground or water. Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is an important link in the nation’s
chain of 540 refuges extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The 20X optical zoom of my compact super-zoom camera (Canon PowerShot SX10 IS) enabled me to zoom
in even more for a much closer look. The larger white colored birds were egrets of at least two different
kinds. The small white colored birds, especially those in flight, were terns. Furthermore, there were some
black colored glossy ibises. In my previous bird watching trips at various places, usually I see a few egrets
here and there. But this is the first time that I see such a large number of egrets concentrated in one place.
In September 2010, Canon announced a new compact super-zoom camera, SX30 IS, with 35X optical
zoom as described in the following websites:
Zoom in for a closer view of one of the great egrets with yellow bill on a tree
We also saw a hawk (may be an osprey) on a tree while we were hiking on that 0.25 mile boardwalk.
An egret in flight.
A shorebird with long bill, may be a dowitcher, feeding on the mudflat.
The bills, the eye and the head of this heron were blurred in this picture because this heron was panting on
that hot summer day similar to what a dog does. The throat, the head and the open bills were shaking as the
heron was panting. (We had air condition in full blast inside our car on that hot summer day.)
This is my third tour of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The large number of migratory birds seen in
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge depends on season. For example, on my second tour of Bombay
Hook in winter season on December 4, 2006, we saw about 100,000 snow geese here as shown on my
Travelogue web page at:
On the other hand, on my first tour of Bombay Hook in Spring season in May 2006, we saw many shore
birds and a bald eagle in action hunting as shown on my Travelogue web page at:
A black-necked Stilt.
One of many terns flying and hovering over the Raymond Gut looking for small fish. Upon finding the small
fish, the tern dives from mid air down to the water to catch the small fish. Bald eagles have also been
catching much larger fish, such as carps, from the streams and pools in Bombay Hook as reported by other
The East Coast USA is a major thoroughfare for migratory birds. Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is on
the shore of Delaware Bay, and its tidal salt marsh, wetlands and ponds attract hundreds of thousands of
birds as they migrate up and down the east coast. The 12-mile auto tour Loop, along with several trails,
provides visitors excellent opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife.
Another large group of birds at another part of Shearness Pool.