At a Glance
Hours: 24 hours/day.
Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ Dress more warmly than you think necessary in winter. The wind off the water can be quite chilling.◾ Waterfowl hunting takes place in designated areas of Sinepuxent Bay. The hunting activities are safe for people on land but if you’re birding by boat, be aware of hunting seasons and plan your visit accordingly ◾ Portable restroom.
Best Seasons: The birds are great year-round, but the vacationing crowds are problematic during the summer.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: South Point itself is in Tingles Island NW, but is adjacent to the borders of Tingles Island NE, Tingles Island CW, and Tingles Island CE. Many of the birds observed on or over the water will be in one of the latter three blocks, while birds on land around the boat ramp will be in Tingles Island NW.
5820 South Point Road, Berlin, MD 21811
County Recreation & Parks: (410) 632-2144 x2521
South Point offers one of the best wide-open views of the waters of Sinepuxent Bay south of Ocean City. South Point is, as its name implies, at the southern tip of a peninsula of land: The waters of Newport Bay lie to the west of South Point, and on the east side, Sinepuxent Bay joins Chincoteague Bay at the Point. Across Sinepuxent Bay is Assateague National Seashore and State Park. This is an area that offers rich feeding grounds for a wide assortment of water birds and shorebirds as well as hosting interesting land birds.
Public access at South Point is provided by a county-owned public boat ramp at the end of South Point Road. The approach to the boat ramp is through a residential area, and features some large private estates that occupy the point itself. The boat ramp is not at the point per se, but is located a little way up the east shoulder of the point and faces east and slightly north, looking into Sinepuxent Bay.
This humble little 1.5-acre spot – simply a paved parking lot and a bulkhead on the water, with a couple of wooden next to the boat ramp – can provide you with looks at a great selection of water birds. Be sure to check the pilings of an old abandoned offshore structure visible to the right (south) from the boat ramp; also carefully check the waters under and around the structure, as it is a favored hiding spot for waterfowl and grebes. And don’t forget to scope out over the water toward the distant shores of Assateague – often you can spot flying lines of scoters, shorebirds, and other goodies. In addition, the neighboring patches of marsh and other vegetation offer opportunities for land birds, so don’t ignore them.
Please be aware that all the surrounding land is privately owned and take care not to trespass.
There are two eBird hotspots at South Point:
- South Point Area, with 223+ species, covers the on-shore vicinity as well as the waters;
- South Point Boat Ramp, with 119+ species, focuses more on the water birds.
The combined total for the two hotspots is 227+ species.
Waterfowl top the list with 29 species reported, including occasional rarities such as Ross’s Goose. The list includes dabblers, diving ducks, and sea-going species such as Brant, all three scoters (White-winged, Black, and Surf), and Long-tailed Duck. Breeding species include Canada Goose and probably Mallard, Wood Duck, and American Black Duck.
Northern Bobwhites probably bred on South Point in the past, but have not been regular since 2010 or earlier. Every once in a while, one still turns up. Wild Turkey might also be found in some of the fields along South Point Road.
Three grebes are regularly seen: Pied-billed (fall), Horned (October through April), and Red-necked (February-March). Eared Grebe is occasional in November. Common Loons are abundant from October through May; Red-throated Loons move through in February and November.
Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons are expected year-round, though the pigeons are more scarce. From 2006 through 2009, a Eurasian Collared-Dove was frequenting the South Point area, as well as across the bay on Assateague Island, but the species is not regular here. There are rare springtime reports of three caprimulgids: Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, and Chuck-will’s-widow. Chimney Swifts are common during the summer, along with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Occasionally a Virginia Rail will be found in the nearby marshes, mostly in fall. American Coots also come through in fall. The regular shorebirds in the area are Killdeer, Dunlin, Wilson’s Snipe, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and Willet, with about a dozen other species spotted from time to time, some of these in flight over the waters toward Assateague.
The usual gulls are Bonaparte’s (fall), Laughing (April through October), and Ring-billed, Great Black-backed, and Herring (year-round). There are decent chances of finding a Lesser Black-backed Gull in fall. The tern show is very good from April through November, with opportunities for Least, Caspian, Common, Forster’s, Royal, and Black Skimmer.
Northern Gannets can occasionally be seen in winter over toward Assateague. Double-crested Cormorants are always around, and a Great Cormorant might appear in fall or winter (practice your cormorant flight identification skills before visiting). Brown Pelicans can be spotted from late summer into fall. American White Pelicans are not regular in the area, but one turns up from time to time.
There are good opportunities to see wading birds: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron (becoming more reliable here), Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Glossy Ibis, and very rarely, White Ibis or White-faced Ibis. The Great Blues are present year-round but the season for the other waders is generally March or April through October. The Night-Herons might overwinter somewhere in the area.
Both Black and Turkey Vultures are almost always visible. Ospreys are numerous from March through October, and Bald Eagles occur year-round. Both species breed locally. Other local breeders include Red-tailed Hawks. Winter brings Northern Harriers, Red-shouldered Hawks, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks. Eastern Screech-Owls, Great Horned Owls, and Barred Owls have all been found in the vicinity. American Kestrels, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcons can all be seen during migration; a kestrel or Merlin might persist through winter.
Belted Kingfishers are common from September through April. The nearby woodlands hold Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (winter), Red-headed (sporadic May through October), Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy (less likely than Downy), and Pileated Woodpeckers, and Northern Flickers. Other woodland birds include flycatchers: Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian (spring), Eastern Phoebe (more likely fall through spring), Great Crested, and Eastern Kingbird. White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos turn up in spring and fall, along with Blue-headed (more likely in spring) or Philadelphia (more likely in fall).
Possible swallows in summer include Purple Martins, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, and Barn. This is a good spot to watch for possible Cliff Swallows in August and Cave Swallows in October or November.
Blue Jays, American Crows, and Fish Crows are abundant year-round residents. On the smaller side, other residents are Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. Other small woodland birds that can be found in winter include Golden-crowned and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, and Brown Creepers. Brown-headed Nuthatches breed locally.
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers breed in the area and are present April through early September. House and Carolina Wrens also breed in the area, and Winter Wrens can be found from November through late winter. Marsh Wrens are absent. Gray Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds, and Brown Thrashers are all common. Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins are year-round residents. Hermit Thrushes are scarce but present in winter. Wood Thrushes do not breed in the area but migrate through in spring and fall. Cedar Waxwings are common year-round.
In irruption years, this is a good place to check for winter finches: Evening Grosbeak (rare), Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, Red Crossbills (rare). American Goldfinches and House Finches are here year-round.
The possible sparrows are:
- Wintering ꟷ Fox, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated, Savannah, Swamp.
- Breeding ꟷ Chipping, Field (possible breeder), Song, Eastern Towhee (possible breeder).
- Migrants ꟷ Grasshopper, American Tree, Seaside, Nelson’s, Saltmarsh.
Check the fields along South Point Road for possible Horned Larks and American Pipits. European Starlings are numerous all the time. Bobolinks can be overhead during fall migration (learn their flight calls). Eastern Meadowlarks are easy to find year-round. Orchard and Baltimore Orioles can be found locally. Year-round residents include Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and Common Grackles. Boat-tailed Grackles might not be seen on every visit but are present almost year-round, and might breed locally. Rusty Blackbirds occur in late winter- early spring.
There is a good list of warblers, with 24 species reported. The list of possible local breeders includes Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Pine, and Yellow-throated. Yellow-rumped Warblers are abundant during winter, living on bayberry fruits.
Both Summer and Scarlet Tanagers are found in spring and fall and might breed in the area. Northern Cardinals, Blue Grosbeaks, and Indigo Buntings are confirmed breeders.
Pets are allowed on leash; be prepared to pick up after your pet and be aware that there is no trash receptacle at the boat ramp.
The paved parking lot provides good access for wheelchair viewing or viewing from the car. The boat ramp and its piers are not ADA-accessible.
South Point lies within the Maryland Coastal Bays Important Bird Area (IBA), as designated by the National Audubon Society. This large IBA encompasses the entire inland bay area along the Atlantic Coast of Maryland, and adjoins IBAs in Delaware and Virginia.
Obviously the South Point Boat Ramp can accommodate large boats, but there is no soft launch for canoes and kayaks at South Point (the shoreline at the parking area is entirely bulkheaded). It would be possible to launch from the end of the concrete boat ramp if you don’t mind scraping your boat. Otherwise, there is a soft launch at the Sunset Avenue boat launch facility, which provides access to Sinepuxent Bay and the Ocean City Inlet; the facilities include lighted, paved parking, 6 paved boat ramps, and a restroom. There are multiple options for launching a canoe or kayak at Assateague National Seashore. See the MD DNR Public Water Access Interactive Map for details. ◾ If you don’t have your own boat but want to get out on the water, check out water sports rental and outfitter information at the Beach & Beyond Worcester County Visitor website.
Shoreline fishing is available from the bulkhead at the South Point Boat Ramp. Fishing and crabbing are excellent throughout Sinepuxent Bay. There are numerous other fishing spots around the areas; consult the MD DNR Public Anglers Access Interactive Map for details. ◾ Ocean City and West Ocean City have a large selection of restaurants, ranging from little locally-owned casual places and take-outs to chain restaurants and up-scale dining rooms and nightspots. There are also a couple of fresh seafood markets in the Wests Ocean City area, selling fish and shellfish fresh from the boats.
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Tri-County Bird Club, serving Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties, and offering field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
Large paved parking lot with capacity for up to 15 cars and boat trailers.
South Point is located on the mainland (west) side of Sinepuxent Bay south of Ocean City, and is accessed via MD Route 611 south of US Route 50.
From the south end of Ocean City (such as the Ocean City Inlet area): Take US Route 50 west out of Ocean City and in about 1.4 miles, turn left onto MD Route 611/Stephen Decatur Highway. Go south on Route 611 for 6.3 miles, to a fork where Route 611 makes a sharp bend to the left to approach Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore (road sign). Instead of following Route 611 to the left, bear right onto South Point Road. Follow South Point Road for 3.8 miles to its end at the South Point Boat Ramp.
From the north end of Ocean City (above 62nd Street): Use Philadelphia Avenue/Route 528/Coastal Highway to go south. In winter, take US Route 50 west out of Ocean City and follow directions above. In summer, when traffic is heavy, use Route 90 instead. At 62nd Street, follow signs to turn right onto westbound Route 90. In 5.5 miles, turn left to go south on MD Route 589/Race Track Road toward Ocean Pines. In 2.7 miles, turn left to go east on US Route 50/Ocean Gateway for 2.4 miles. Turn right to go southeast on MD Route 707/Old Bridge Road for just ¾ of a mile, then turn right to go south on MD Route 611/Stephen Decatur Highway. Drive south on Route 611 for 6.0 miles, to a fork where Route 611 makes a sharp bend to the left to approach Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore (road sign). Instead of following Route 611 to the left, bear right onto South Point Road. Follow South Point Road for 3.8 miles to its end at the South Point Boat Ramp.
From points north, such as Delaware: Use US Route 113 southbound toward Berlin and Ocean City. Passing the interchange for US Route 50 at Berling, continue south on Route 113 for another 1.5 miles. Turn left onto Bay Street/Assateague Road and continue southeast for 4.1 miles. At the intersection with MD Route 611/Stephen Decatur Highway, turn right to go south for 2.3 miles, to a fork where Route 611 makes a sharp bend to the left to approach Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore (road sign). Instead of following Route 611 to the left, bear right onto South Point Road. Follow South Point Road for 3.8 miles to its end at the South Point Boat Ramp.
From points south, such as Snow Hill, MD or Virginia: Use US Route 113 northbound toward Berlin and Ocean City. On the outskirts of Berlin, turn right onto Bay Street/Assateague Road and continue southeast for 4.1 miles. At the intersection with MD Route 611/Stephen Decatur Highway, turn right to go south for 2.3 miles, to a fork where Route 611 makes a sharp bend to the left to approach Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore (road sign). Instead of following Route 611 to the left, bear right onto South Point Road. Follow South Point Road for 3.8 miles to its end at the South Point Boat Ramp.
From points west and north such as Salisbury, Easton, or the Western Shore: Use US Route 50/Ocean Gateway eastbound toward Ocean City. At Salisbury, follow signs for the Salisbury Bypass, picking up the continuation of US Route 50 eastbound on the east side of the city. Travel another 19 miles and at the interchange with US Route 113 at Berlin, follow signs to take Route 113 south for 1.5 miles. Turn left onto MD Route 376/Bay Street/Assateague Road and continue southeast for 4.1 miles. At the intersection with MD Route 611/Stephen Decatur Highway, turn right to go south for 2.3 miles, to a fork where Route 611 makes a sharp bend to the left to approach Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore (road sign). Instead of following Route 611 to the left, bear right onto South Point Road. Follow South Point Road for 3.8 miles to its end at the South Point Boat Ramp.
Worcester County: Assateague Island National Seashore & Assateague Island State Park ◾ Castaways RV Resort & Campgrounds ◾ E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area ◾ Heron Park (formerly Berlin Falls Park) ◾ Isle of Wight Park & Wildlife Management Area ◾ Ocean City Inlet & Sunset Park ◾ Ocean City: Skimmer Island (4th Street Mudflats) ◾ Pocomoke State Forest – Hickory Point Cypress Swamp Natural Area ◾ Truitts Landing & Other Bayside Landings ◾ West Ocean City Park-n-Ride & Homer Gudelsky Park ◾ West Ocean City Pond
Wicomico County: Cedar Hill Marina & Park ◾ Ellis Bay Wildlife Management Area ◾ Nanticoke River Wildlife Management Area – Nutter’s Neck ◾ Pemberton Historical Park ◾ Roaring Point & Nanticoke Harbor ◾ Tyaskin Park & Wetipquin Park ◾ Ward Museum & Schumaker Pond
Features and Amenities:BeginnersBirding By CarBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHuntingParkingPets AllowedRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Atlantic Ocean and Intercoastal WaterwaysAudubon Important Bird AreasCounty Parks