This is the first of a 2-part “Birds and Birding on the Eastern Shore” series offered in the 2024 winter and spring semesters.  The parts are independent; one may be taken without the other.

  • Part 1 (this winter) will focus on water birds, geese, ducks, shorebirds, and other “aquatic” species that are winter residents in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coastal bays region. 
  • Part 2 (in the spring) will emphasize the amazing phenomena of songbird and shorebird migration. 

While this is a program for beginners, birders who have had some experience and wish to hone their skills are welcome. 

Most of the teaching will be done in the field, bird-by-bird, species-by-species, all  seen and identified. There will be five weekly field trips, three 3-hour outings to local destinations and two essentially all-day excursions to more distant venues. 

Two hybrid classes will begin and end the course. The first class will introduce birding skills and resources pertinent to waterfowl identification. The last class will consider waterfowl conservation and provide an opportunity to review any challenging identifications of the species seen in the field. 

What to Expect: 

You will gain confidence in identifying the many waterfowl species that winter on the Eastern Shore’s wetlands, impoundments, bays, and open coastal waters. In addition to clues such as field marks, general appearance, and behavior, you will learn how the relationship between species and habitat provides additional identification information as well as insight into approaches to bird conservation.

SPECIAL NOTES FOR THE FIELD TRIPS:  The weekly field trips are scheduled as follows (subject to change due to weather):

  1. Monday, 22 January 2024: Ducks Up Close (Oakley Street and Cambridge Waterfront) 8:00 – 11:00 AM
  2. Monday, 29 January 2024: Birds on the Bay (Tilghman Island)
    8:00 – 11:00 AM
  3. Monday. 5 February 2024: Coastal Treasures (Ocean City and Berlin)
    8:00 – 4:00 PM (ALL DAY TRIP)
  4. Monday, 12 February 2024: Wetland Restoration (Pickering Creek Audubon Center) 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
  5. Monday, 19 February 2024: Managing for Waterfowl Conservation (Blackwater NWR) 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (ALL DAY TRIP)

Wayne will be communicating directly with participants with regard to field trip reminders, directions and any other “need to know” information.  Carpooling is highly recommended on field trips.  

Due to the importance of being able to get good looks at the birds, you must have a birding-quality pair of binoculars; 7×42 or 8×42 is recommended. Some locations will require walking distances of up to a mile.  Layers of clothing, rain gear, and appropriate footwear for wet conditions are a must.

Feedback from past Birding programs with Wayne:

“I always learn so much in Wayne’s classes. And if I forget something I just learned, Wayne very nicely tries again.”   

“Dr. Wayne Bell is fabulous! First time birder. Learning a lot. 10 stars!!“

“Wayne is an excellent and knowledgeable teacher. He pours himself into his teaching.“

“The birding classes are great!  We’ve learned so much – especially on the field trips!“

Bell 3

Wayne Bell, Ph.D.

Dr. Wayne Bell is Senior Associate and former Director of the Washington College Center for Environment and Society. A native of Silver Spring, MD, he graduated from the University of Miami, Florida, and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University where E.O. Wilson infected him with a lasting love of all things ecological. Retired since 2008, Dr. Bell continues his passion for birds and teaching through the Maryland Ornithological Society Youth program (YMOS), Talbot County Bird Club, and the Chesapeake Forum.

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