At a Glance

Hours: Sunrise to sunset.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Spotting scope recommended. ◾ Restrooms closed in winter; year-round restrooms available at North East Town Hall, 106 S Main St. (go around south side of building by parking lot). ◾ The park sometimes hosts large events; check schedule at http://northeastmd.org/.

Best Seasons: Year-round.

Local MOS Chapter: Cecil Bird Club

North East Community Park

219 West Walnut Street, North East, MD 21901
(410) 287-5801

North East Community Park, in the town of North East in Cecil County, is a 10-acre municipal park located on a small peninsula where the North East Creek widens abruptly to become the North East River. The park is known for its dramatic view of the water: on a clear day, it is possible to see south down the river all the way to its mouth at Carpenter Point, where the river empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Most of the park is an open area with a children’s playground, picnic pavilions, and other recreational features. There is a wheelchair-accessible asphalt -surfaced trail along the waterfront and winding through the park.

North East Community Park is mostly known among birders as an outstanding place for winter gull viewing. The park benefits from proximity to Cecil County’s Central Landfill, a short distance away. During the winter months, and to a lesser extent during other seasons, gulls spend all day commuting back and forth between the landfill and the park. The skies are generally full of gulls, and they settle down to rest on the water off the park or on nearby docks and pilings and roofs. The landfill itself is not open for drop-in birding, so the park presents the best opportunity to view the thousands of gulls that may be present in the area. It is a good place to study gulls to learn their subtle plumage differences, which change with age and time of year, and to search through the flocks for a rarity.

The water immediately off the park usually remains at least partly open throughout the winter, thanks to the presence of bubblers placed by the private marina on the other side of the boat basin; the bubblers keep the water moving so that it doesn’t freeze except during the coldest times. The open water farther out in the river does freeze over, but when it’s open, the river can be full of waterfowl in winter. The open areas of the park have a few shrubs and trees that may hold some passerines in winter. In the warm months, the passerine birdlife at the park can be quite lively, since the park benefits from some good wetland habitat immediately to the north and west, where Stony Run joins North East Creek, creating a broad delta-shaped wetland area.

Birdlife:

About 140 species have been reported on eBird from North East Community Park. The park is known mostly for gulls and waterfowl. Rare and uncommon species of gulls have included Black-headed Gull, Glaucous Gull, and Iceland Gull (including Thayer’s). Lesser Black-backed Gull is reliable from fall through spring, and Bonaparte’s Gulls can usually be found in numbers that vary from year-to-year. The park is one of the best places in Cecil County to see Least Tern, present in May and June.

Ducks and geese – 26 species in all – can be found during winter, as long as the surrounding waters remain ice-free. This can be a good spot to look for Snow Geese. Wood Ducks breed nearby. Three species of grebes occur (Pied-billed, Horned, and Red-necked); these may be present in early spring.  There may be impressive mixed-species flights of blackbirds going to their evening roosts just before dusk in the winter and spring. Bald Eagles are present year-round, and when the river is frozen, can often be spotted out on the ice.

Summer brings 5 species of swallows. Orioles are also easy to see here. Don’t forget to check the wetlands, visible across the water to the north and west, for herons and egrets and other marsh-dwellers. Ospreys are present in large numbers and nest on the buoys in the river.

Parking:

Paved parking lots with signage.

Special Features:

Because much of the water can be viewed from or near a parked car, this is a great place for those who are mobility-impaired. There is a wheelchair-accessible asphalt-surfaced trail along the waterfront. ◾ North East Community Park houses the Upper Bay Museum, a small facility with displays of hunting, boating, and fishing artifacts from the Upper Chesapeake Bay. The museum showcases the history of waterfowl hunting through exhibits of gunning rigs and carved decoys, presenting a microcosm of Upper Bay culture and life. The Museum has regular hours from May through October. Though it is generally closed during from October through May, it is sometimes possible, with advance notice, to have the museum opened on request. ◾ A soft launch for canoes and kayaks (bring your own) is available in the park. ◾ A fishing pier is available (fishing license required). ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Cecil Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.

Directions:

From I-95 north of Perryvile: Take Exit 100 for MD Route 272 south toward the town of North East for approximately 3 miles. Route 272 will bring you directly into North East on Main Street, which is one-way heading south through the business district. Turn right (west) onto Walnut Street and follow to its end at the North East Community Park. Park in designated lots.

Note that MD Route 272 northbound follows Mauldin Avenue, which is one block east of Main Street and parallel to it. To return to I-95, you will follow Route 272 north on Mauldin Avenue, since Main Street is one-way in the other direction.

Also note that public restrooms are available year-round outside North East Town Hall at 106 South Main Street, on the left side as you head south on Route 272. The restrooms are on the south side of the building adjacent to a public parking lot (free), accessed from Main Street or from the side street East Wallace Avenue.

Nearby Sites:

Perryville Community Park; Elk Neck State Forest; Elk Neck State Park – Turkey Point; Fair Hill NRMA; Elkton – Meadow Park, Eder Park, Hatchery Park & Howard’s Pond; Elkton Marsh& Elk River Park; Woodlawn Wildlife Area/New Beginnings.

Habitats:

Garden or ParkLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseUrban or Small Town Landscape Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry FeeLake, Pond, Bay, River, OceanObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Chesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreCommunity and Urban ParksThe Rivers of the Eastern Shore