Perryville Community Park
100 Marion Tapp Parkway, Perryville, Maryland 21903
In real estate, they say “Location, location, location,” and Perryville Community Park certainly has a prime location for birding. The 168.5-acre park is located on the Perry Point peninsula at the top of the Chesapeake Bay, in the historic town of Perryville in Cecil County. The park has an unparalleled view of the water. Stump Point is the eastward-facing tip of the peninsula, overlooking the confluence between Mill Creek, Furnace Bay, and the Northeast River. To the west lies the mouth of the Susquehanna River. The area south of the park, where the waters from these sources mingle, is called the Susquehanna Flats, and presents a rich feeding ground for waterfowl, loons, grebes, terns, and gulls, as well as Bald Eagles, Osprey, herons and egrets.
Perryville Community Park has an open ball field area at the tip of the park, surrounded by a tree-lined shoreline with cliffs overlooking the Bay. The northern section of the park, which is traversed by the park’s entrance road, consists mostly of hardwood forest. There are several small pull-offs on the entrance drive, where one may park the car to scope the waters of Mill Creek and Furnace Bay to the north and east. The park’s wooded areas and tree-lined shores are a magnet for land-birds, particularly during migration. Even the open areas near the ball fields host a surprising number of passerines.
There is a soft canoe/kayak launch (bring your own) on the eastern shore of the park, providing access to the calm waters of Mill Creek and Furnace Bay.
Perryville Community Park shares the Perry Point peninsula with the Perry Point Veterans Administration Medical Center, and in fact the park land was previously part of the VA Medical Center. A Loop Trail encircles the entire Community Park and VA Medical Center, enabling the birder to sample all the habitats in the park on foot or bicycle; see the trail map at the link at left for the route of the Loop Trail, which is approximately 3.5 miles long. Note that you must carry a government-issued ID card (e.g., a driver’s license) to use the section of the trail that goes through the VA Medical Center; see http://www.perryvillemd.org/parks-recreation/pages/trails.
The Loop Trail connects to the paved Canning House Run Trail at the northwest corner of the VA Medical Center; see https://www.perryvillemd.org/parks-recreation/pages/trails. The Canning House Run Trail goes north for just under a mile along the shore of the Susquehanna, from historic Rodgers Tavern (it’s a museum, not a restaurant) to the Perryville Community Boat Ramp just north of the bridge that carries US Route 40 over the Susquehanna. This pleasant walk provides excellent views of the waters of the river and is a good spot to check for waterfowl, gulls, and terns. A small marsh behind Rodgers Tavern is usually filled with birds; the town’s Ferry Point Park and Pier provides an excellent overlook over the marsh and river; see http://www.perryvillemd.org/parks-recreation/pages/lower-ferry-park-pier.
The number of species reported on eBird for Perryville Community Park is approaching the 200 mark. Spring and fall provide good viewing of migrating passerines, including a variety of warblers, vireos, flycatchers, tanagers, and orioles. Migrating swallows are abundant in late summer.
Perryville Community Park is famous for its winter waterfowl, arguably being the best place on the Upper Bay to view waterfowl. A total of 31 waterfowl species have been reported; these can be found in Mill Creek and Furnace Bay during the winter, as long as the water is ice free. A particularly good area to check with a scope is the rip line at the mouth of Mill Creek, where its waters mix with water from the much larger Furnace Bay to the northeast. There is usually a line of waterfowl feeding along that rip line. Also check the open waters on the Susquehanna Flats, south of the park, for diving and sea ducks, including Red-breasted Mergansers, scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and scaup. Grebes and loons are also usually present during the winter. Brown Creepers are usually relatively easy to find rom September through April in the huge River Birches that line the shoreline at the southwest end of the park, adjacent to the VA Medical Center grounds.
Summer nesting birds include both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and a wide variety of other passerine species, including flycatchers, vireos, warblers, and sparrows. Woodpeckers are abundant. The late summer sees an influx of terns, including Black Terns, which can usually be found feeding far out on the Susquehanna Flats (spotting scope needed).
Bald Eagles are present year round and several nests can be viewed with a spotting scope from the park. Ospreys are abundant during the warm months.
Several pull-offs along the park entrance road; also several paved lots in the ball-field area at the point and near the soft launch for canoes/kayaks. Do not park on the grass or in other spots that are signed “No Parking.”
Because most of Perryville Community Park can be birded from or near the car, it is an excellent spot for those who are mobility-impaired. ◾ A fishing pier is located off the cliffs at the south end of the park; a valid fishing license is required. ◾ A free (no license needed) fishing area is located on the Susquehanna River at nearby Ice House Park, reachable on foot/bicycle via the Canning House Run Trail or by car via Roundhouse Road, ◾ 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.
From I-95: take Exit 93 for MD Route 222 (Perryville Road, aka Perrylawn Drive) south for about 3.0 miles into the town of Perryville. In Perryville, turn left (east) at the T-intersection onto MD Route 7/Broad Street. Go 0.4 miles and then turn right (south) onto MD Route 327/Ikea Way. Go just 0.2 miles, crossing an overpass over the railroad, to Marion Tapp Parkway, on your right immediately after the bridge. Turn right to go through the gate onto Marion Tapp Parkway, which is the entrance road for Perryville Community Park.
The park entrance road goes through woods for just under a mile before emerging at the open area containing the ball fields. Along the way, there are pull-offs on the left to allow you to look out (when trees are not in leaf) toward Mill Creek, and then, farther on, you can look out over the mouth of Mill Creek and Furnace Bay. Stop often to look and listen for birds. Upon entering the open area near the ball fields, follow directional signs to bear right at a fork. The will enable you to drive in a counter-clockwise direction around the point area. Stop at any likely spots to observe birds on the land or water. Be sure not to park on the grass or in spots signed “No Parking.”
Octoraro Creek Trail at Conowingo Park; Woodlawn Wildlife Area/New Beginnings; North East Community Park; Elk Neck State Forest; Elk Neck State Park-Turkey Point; Tydings Memorial Park & Havre de Grace City Marina; Conowingo Dam/Fisherman’s Park (Harford County Side); Susquehanna State Park.
Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseUrban or Small Town Landscape Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & Streams
Ball Fields or Other SportsBeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Birding By CarBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Chesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreCommunity and Urban ParksDriving Tours (Birding By Car)Hiker-Biker Trails (Paved)The Rivers of the Eastern Shore