At a Glance
Hours: Most of the public areas are open dawn to dusk. The public boat ramp and fishing pier are open 24 hours a day. The Annmarie Sculpture Garden and the Calvert Marine Museum have restricted hours; see description at right. The Visitor Center at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory has hours that vary seasonally; closed entirely in winter.
Cost: Most of the birding spots described here are free. The Visitor Center at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is free. There is a fee to launch motorized boats at the public boat ramp, but no fee for parking there, for launching kayaks/canoes or for using the public fishing pier. There are admission fees at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and the Calvert Marine Museum.
Tips: Bring a spotting scope. ◾ Restrooms are available at the public boat ramp, at Solomons Island Town Center Park on Dowell Road, at the Public Pump Out Station on Solomons Island Road, and at the Visitor Center at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory See map at link below. ◾ The town is extremely busy on weekends in warm weather; try to visit on weekdays or in the off-season.
Best Seasons: Best in winter; spring and fall are good; summer is crowded.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Solomons Island CW
14195 South Solomons Island Road, Solomons, MD 20688
Solomons Island, named for the Washington developer who first saw its potential as a resort area circa 1900, is a charming waterfront town occupying the southern tip of Calvert County. It is not actually an “island,” although it is largely surrounded by water: the Patuxent River, Back River, and the Chesapeake Bay. Located here are many marinas, restaurants, a riverwalk/boardwalk along the shore of the Patuxent River, the Calvert Marine Museum, and the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Parking spots and points of interest are marked on the “Discovery Map” at the area map link at left. There are several points of access providing water overlooks; some spots to visit are described below or just use the map and pick your own spots.
- The Solomons Island Public Boat Ramp and Fishing/Crabbing Pier is tucked into a corner near the high bridge taking MD Route 4 over the Patuxent River. Boat ramp construction is planned for Winter 2018/2019; call 410-326-3899 or 410-535-5327 to confirm status of the boat ramp. Restrooms are located here and the facility is open 24 hours a day. From here one may scan the broad waters of the Patuxent for gulls, waterfowl, loons, and grebes in winter and for terns in summer and during migration.
- As you return to Solomons Island Road from the boat ramp parking area, note the grassy field on the right, which in winter usually has Canada Geese and sometimes a Greater White-fronted or other rarity.
- Turn right and head south on Solomons Island Road, to a large parking area and pedestrian Riverwalk along the Patuxent. One may park here and look over the river from different vantage points.
- Return to Solomons Island Road and turn right again, still heading south. Solomons Island Road will become Patuxent Avenue. Just past the point of the peninsula, turn right onto Carl’s Way, which then becomes Farren Avenue, paralleling the sea wall. Drive to the end of Farren Avenue, where there is a parking lot for the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. Scan the water from here or walk back along Farren if you see something interesting in that direction.
- Return along Farren Street to Charles Street, and turn right onto Charles, which will bring you back to Solomons Island Road. Continue north to the Calvert Marine Museum (admission fee, open daily 10 am – 5 pm), where you will have a view over quiet backwaters of the Back River.
- Return to Solomons Island Road and go north past a couple of shopping centers on the right, to Dowell Road, and turn right to go south on Dowell. The Solomons Island Town Center Park at 13320 Dowell Road (not shown on the accompanying map) has ample parking, restrooms, and a wooded fringe along the shore of the Back River.
- Continue south on Dowell to the Annmarie Sculpture Gardens at 13480 Dowell Road (admission fee, open daily 9 am – 5 pm) and bird the extensive grounds.
- A marina at the south end of Dowell Road may offer some additional viewing opportunities, but this is private property, so ask permission if you want to park and look.
Over 160 species have been reported on eBird from Solomons Island. There are several eBird hotspots that cover the area:
- Solomons (this is the overall area) – 164+ species
- Thomas Johnson Bridge Fishing Piers (this is the public fishing pier and boat ramp at the foot of the high bridge over the Patuxent)- 105+ species
- Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons – 48+ species
- Annmarie Sculpture Garden – 59+ species.
Designated parking areas as described above. Also parking on-street, but watch for “Residents Only” restrictions and time limits.
The Solomons Island Water Trail, which runs along the shoreline, is described in the Calvert County Water Trails brochure. The put-in is at the public boat launch in Solomons. ◾ Lots of restaurants and sightseeing attractions make Solomons Island a fun spot for families or for birding couples dates. ◾ The Calvert Marine Museum has exhibits focused on the Chesapeake Bay and the watermen’s way of life. The museum offers cruises on an oyster buy-boat or a skipjack, both traditional working boats of the Bay, and the Museum also sponsors concerts and educational programs. ◾ The Visitor Center at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory located on the first floor of the historic Solomons House, offers exhibits highlighting the health of the Chesapeake Bay, ongoing research, and an oyster reef community aquarium. Visitors can learn about the Laboratory’s scientists, what they are researching, and why it is important. The Lab offers other opportunities for the public, including seminars, an annual open house, and campus tours. ◾ The Solomons Visitor Information Center is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society in Calvert County, but many birders participate in MOS through the Anne Arundel Bird Club or the Patuxent Bird Club; both of these MOS chapters offer field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public. ◾ In addition, the Southern MD Audubon Society serves birders in Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Prince George’s Counties.
The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory operates a live HarborCam. Get a live view of the waters around the Laboratory’s shoreline. Onscreen controls allow you to steer and zoom in on items of interest such as tall ships in the local marina, weather conditions on the bay, and of course local osprey nests!
From the Annapolis/Baltimore area: Take MD Route 2/Solomons Island Road. MD Route 4 will join MD Route 2 near Huntingtown. From that junction, continue south on the combined Route 2/4 for 27 miles. Just past the US Naval Recreation Center on the right, and just before the high bridge over the Patuxent River, bear right at the sign for Solomons Island Road; this access road will take you under the bridge, and the public boat ramp will be immediately on your right after emerging on the east side of the bridge. From there follow directions given above for various spots around town.
If coming from the east and north (Prince George’s County): Go south on MD Route 4 to the junction with MD Route 2, then follow directions as above.
From the west (Charles County): From Waldorf, take MD Route 5 south to MD Route 231/Prince Frederick Road. Take MD Route 231 east to Prince Frederick, then turn right to go south on MD Route 4. Just past the US Naval Recreation Center on the right, and just before the high bridge over the Patuxent River, bear right at the sign for Solomons Island Road; this access road will take you under the bridge, and the public boat ramp will be immediately on your right after emerging on the east side of the bridge. From there follow directions given above for various spots around town.
From the south (St. Mary’s County): Pick up MD Route 4 at California, and go north on MD Route 4 over the high bridge over the Patuxent River. Take the first right at the north end of the bridge and turn right again to go south a short distance on Solomons Island Road, to the parking area at the public boat ramp. From there follow directions given above for various spots around town.
Calvert County: American Chestnut Land Trust – Parkers Creek Preserve, Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary / Gatewood Preserve / Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm, Calvert Cliffs State Park, Chesapeake Beach, Flag Ponds Nature Park, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Kings Landing Park & Huntingtown Natural Resources Management Area, North Beach
Charles County: Indian Creek Natural Resources Management Area
Features:BeginnersBirding By CarBoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchBoat RentalsFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeGift Shop or BookstoreHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesOvernight Lodging or CabinsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsSnack Bar, Camp Store, Food ConcessionsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Chesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkChesapeake Bay Western ShoreCommunity and Urban ParksThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails