I was recently asked why I travel all the way to Bombay Hook NWR when there are so many birding spots closer to home. It stopped me for a moment, after all, Bombay Hook is 2 hours away from home and there are several tolls along the way. I thought about it but did not have an immediate answer. Sure, the density of birds is greater there then anywhere else I’ve been in the state of Maryland. But if that was all surely I could break even in “birdiness” by going more often to closer locations. It must be more than that. So I got up early the next morning at 3am and headed for Bombay Hook.
I arrived before sunrise and found the gate to be wide open so I went right in. I drove around the beginning roads until I arrived at the start of Raymond Pool and I turned off the car with the windows down. Two things struck me right away: the sheer number of birds calling and singing before sunrise, and the massive cloud of mosquitoes flying into my car. I rushed for the bug spray only to find it almost empty. But I put on what I could get out. I then began to drive and take in the sounds of the birds and the sights of Bombay Hook under the full moon and early dusk light.
Eventually the sun broke the horizon and it was photography time. I ended up having quite the day coming home with 10 images I was happy with. Being able to shoot from the car and using the car as a blind really makes a difference in the birds behavior. I recently visited Jug Bay and I literally couldn’t get within 100 yards of the Green Heron or Wood Ducks that i spotted while on foot. Score one for Bombay Hook there…
Lastly, it occurred to me that everyone at Bombay Hook is there for basically the same reason. To look at and enjoy the birds. No kids playing Frisbee in the park like at Cromwell Valley. No power walkers like at Lake Roland. We were all there drawn by the love of birds we all shared. People with cameras, people with scopes, and people with binoculars. All traveled from near and far to be one with the birds. And I suppose that is why I go to Bombay Hook, to be surrounded by nature and the people who value it.