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Woodland Beach Wildlife Area - Delaware
Photography by Jim Flowers Jim Flowers | E-Mail | Posted 09-01-2011
Snow Geese over the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area
Stop number one on our tour of the Delaware Bay Coast includes the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, which is our northern most point of interest on our map of the region. The Woodland Beach Wildlife Area is approximately 7 miles or about 15 minutes north of the main entrance of the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
The Woodland Beach Wildlife Area consists of three large land tracts consuming roughly 6,320 acres of coastal prairie and tidal marsh. Located just north of the intersection of Delaware Route 6 (Woodland Beach Road) and Route 9 (Hay Point Landing Road), the area accommodates the Aquatic Resources Education Center, a conference facility used by groups and organizations involved in environmental education and wetlands management. The on-site ponds, wetlands and boardwalks make this an ideal location for nature study.
Greater Yellowlegs stalking a pond - Woodland Beach Wildlife Area
Florio Road is one of the main access points to the Wildlife Area. It provides better viewing of several ponds without the traffic of Route 9. The state requests that visitors stay inside their cars in this area. There is plenty to see and photograph from your vehicle.
Directions to Florio Road: (From the Delaware Birding Trail Website, 39°19'31.41"N 75°30'25.04"W - see map below) Take Route 9 (Hay Point Landing Road) north from its intersection with Route 6 (Woodland Beach Road), east of Smyrna. In 0.9 mile, turn right (East) onto Florio Road, just before Route 9 makes a sharp bend to the left. This road goes about 0.5 miles, and overlooks several ponds and fields. The road itself is unmarked, but there is a large sign reading, "Woodland Beach Wildlife Area."
Just beyond the entrance to Florio Road, at the sharp bend of Route 9, you will find an observation tower that provides a panoramic view of the area. You can usually have the platform to yourself and it's an excellent place for photography or wildlife viewing. Breathtaking sunrises and sunsets over the marsh or the ponds of Taylor's Gut observed from the tower provide good photographic opportunities. The tower also provides safe parking off of Route 9. The photograph below was taken from the observation tower.
Snow Geese on approach as viewed from the observation tower
Another popular viewing area with the birders and photographers is Taylor's Gut located just a short distance beyond the observation tower along Route 9. Parking is limited to the highway shoulder so caution is advised. Shorebird observation and photography can be excellent when water levels are favorable. Back in the fall of 1957 a tidal gate was installed at the small bridge on Route 9 to control the water levels in the pond on the west side of the highway. The pond provides a rest area for many species of waterfowl during the non-hunting season. This is one of my favorite areas for finding Ring-necked Ducks in the spring.
Marbled Godwit at Taylor's Gut
As with the National Wildlife Refuges, the wildlife areas of Delaware are open to public hunting. I recommend you consult the current schedule of hunting seasons. Or, if you're ever in doubt, simply wear hunters' orange or other bright colors during the deer hunting season. Though I'd advise just avoiding the hunting areas altogether during the in-season. At present, Delaware does not allow Sunday hunting so this is a safe day to visit with no hunters present.
Be advised that wildlife areas typically keep signage to a minimum, so a compass or GPS unit may be a wise thing to pack if you plan to explore the area trails or backcountry habitat open to the public ... (Delaware Birding Trail).
A note for out of state sportsmen interested in hunting the Delaware Bay Coast: Delaware is a small, highly populated state with an exceptional amount of resident hunters, especially for waterfowl. All public areas use the lottery system and many are turned away if their names are not drawn. The best way to enjoy a productive hunting experience is by a state approved guide or outfitter and there are many to choose from.
Greater Snowgeese at a Woodland Beach pond
The Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, the observation tower, and Florio Road are prime locations for viewing and photographing the thousands of Snow Geese that invade the coastal areas of the Delaware Bay each winter. Other species that can be observed within this area include, but are not limited to, the Black Duck, Mallard, Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Canada Goose, Snow Goose and the Blue Goose. Diving duck species include the Redhead and the Canvasback. Shorebirds include Sandpipers, Plovers and both species of Yellowlegs. Hudsonian and Marbled Godwits will visit on occasion along with many other rare sightings.
Our next and upcoming attraction will be the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
"Gear and Flaps Down" on a sunset approach of Greater Snow geese
Woodland Beach Wildlife Area (Google interactive map)
left double click to zoom in
right double click to zoom out
click and drag to move
hover over markers to see descriptions
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