525 Taylor’s Island Road, Taylor’s Island, MD 21669
Taylor’s Island is a true island, separated from the mainland of the Eastern Shore by several tidal creeks. Taylor’s Island is accessed by a bridge over Slaughter Creek on MD Route 16/Taylor’s Island Road. The bulk of the island consists of private land, much of it farmed. Habitats here include Loblolly Pine or mixed deciduous-pine forests, cultivated or fallow fields, scrubby areas, much open bay, and limited salt marsh. There are dispersed houses, and a densely populated campground. Also on the island are the Nature Conservancy’s Frank M. Ewing/Robinson Neck Preserve and the state-owned Taylor’s Island Wildlife Management Area. Most of the WMA can be accessed only by boat, but see below for directions to one portion that can be accessed on foot.
Birding Taylor’s Island is accomplished by slowly driving the various public roads, carefully pulling over and parking near good habitat. Be respectful of private property and don’t trespass – stay on the public roads. Start your tour at the west end of the MD Route 16 bridge over Slaughter Creek. Here there is a public boat ramp on the north side of the road, and a few parking spaces that provide a view of the creek and surrounding area. Continue west on MD Route 16 and then go left on Bay Shore Road, which first goes southwest and then turns to go northwest near the shore of Chesapeake Bay.
Before the sharp right-turn that sends Bay Shore Road to the northwest, you can go south on Punch Island Road, which will be a right turn. Punch Island Road goes south down a narrow neck of land, passing through farm lands and woods, before coming to a dead-end along the Bay. Turn around and return to Bay Shore Road, going left to follow Bay Shore Road along the Bay shore, passing through wooded areas and residential areas. At #4362 is the Taylor’s Island Family Campground; stop in at the campground store to ask permission to bird. The store carries a good variety of snacks and drinks, and there are excellent viewpoints of the Bay. Return to Bay Shore Road and continue to the intersection with Hooper’s Neck Road. You can turn left (north) to explore the north end of Taylor’s Island via Hooper’s Neck Road and North Point Road. If you instead turn right (south), Hoopers Neck Road will bring you back to MD Route 16/Taylor’s Island Road.
To explore the south end of Taylor’s Island, from MD Route 16/Taylor’s Island Road, turn south onto Robinson Neck Road. Again, this road passes through a mix of forested land and agricultural fields, with houses scattered about.
The Nature Conservancy’s Frank M. Ewing/Robinson Neck Preserve is located at 3846 Robinson Neck Road, on the left (east) side of Robinson Neck Road. You can park at a kiosk along the road and walk into the preserve along a sandy road; see the trail map. This is an out-and-back walk, so when you reach the end of the trail deep in the marsh, turn around and return to your car.
Robinson Neck Road comes to a dead-end past the Nature Conservancy’s preserve, so turn right out of the Preserve’s parking area and go north to return to the MD Route 16 Bridge over Slaughter Creek.
Continue east over the MD Route 16 bridge to access a small portion of the Taylor’s Island Wildlife Management Area that can be birded on foot; ironically, this part of the WMA is not on Taylor’s Island per se, but is on the adjacent mainland. After crossing Slaughter Creek on Route 16, turn right (south) onto Smithville Road for about 3.4 miles. There is a small parking area marked with a WMA sign on the right (southwest) side of the road, at about 3994 Smithville Road (no mailbox, but this address will bring you close via navigation system). On the Taylor’s Island WMA map at the link at left, this area is shown at the top right portion of the map. There are unmarked hunting trails here.
If you continue south on Smithville Road for another 1.3 miles, you will come to a public boat ramp and parking area at Beaverdam Creek, offering views of the water. Further south still, Smithville Road ends at Hooper’s Island Road.
Over 220 species have been reported on eBird from Taylor’s Island. It is one of the best areas in the state for Brown-headed Nuthatch, with Carolina Chickadees and Pine Warblers (in season) also common. In fall when there are cold fronts, the northwest part of Taylor’s Island, especially, is good for warblers, flickers, vireos, flycatchers, and other passerines. The same may be true for the scrub and edge habitat along Hooper’s Neck Road (right turn from MD Route 16 a short distance west of the Slaughter Creek bridge).
During the colder months look over the Chesapeake Bay from Taylors Island Family Campground (be sure to ask permission at the camp store) and the lower part of Punch Island Road. Here the Bay is narrow, often affording looks at Northern Gannets, Tundra Swans, scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and other divers, and, especially in March and April, Common Loons and Horned Grebes. Bald Eagles are tolerably common anywhere as are Ospreys (in season).
Along MD Route 16 before crossing to the island, the rather extensive Spartina saltmarsh at Parsons Creek on the mainland is worth a gander. A pair or so of Willets, Clapper Rails, and Seaside Sparrows can sometimes be seen, and, rarely, Common Nighthawk or American Woodcock are encountered.
The limited saltmarsh on the island per se is largely bereft of marsh specialties, except for a very few Marsh Wrens, Virginia Rails, and Seaside Sparrows. Slaughter Creek in winter often has a few Lesser Scaup and Canvasbacks. Chuck-will’s-widows breed in the woodlands. There are still a few Northern Bobwhite, in spite of their catastrophic decline almost everywhere. The Island is a tolerably good place for Red-headed Woodpeckers. There are occasional small flights of migratory hawks in fall (more likely) and spring.
While birding, don’t forget to enjoy the scenery at this bucolic, beautiful location.
Given that most of the birding on Taylor’s Island is done from or near the car, this is a great place for those who are mobility-impaired.
Taylor’s Island is contained within the Southern Dorchester County Important Bird Area, as designated by the National Audubon Society.
Check out the “Birding in the Heart of Chesapeake Country” brochure produced by the Dorchester County Tourism Office and MD DNR. You can also pick up a printed copy at the Sailwinds Park and Visitor Center in Cambridge. The brochure outlines five birding/driving tours through Dorchester County (including Taylor’s/Hooper Island), and also has an overview of birds and habitats in the county. ◾ There is no local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society centered in Dorchester County, so many local birders are members of the Talbot Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
Small public boat ramp on right (north side of road) after crossing Slaughter Creek Bridge; otherwise only by pulling over carefully to right side of the paved roads. Also parking at the entrance to the Nature Conservancy’s Frank M. Ewing/Robinson Neck Preserve, and at two state-owned areas on Smithville Road on the mainland, in the eastern portion of Taylor’s Island WMA.
Frank M. Ewing/Robinson Neck Preserve is located at 3846 Robinson Neck Road, on the left (east) side of Robinson Neck Road. You can park at a kiosk along the road and walk into the preserve along a sandy road. The Nature Conservancy provides a downloadable
From US Route 50 in Cambridge: Turn south or west onto MD Route 16. Follow Route 16 to the bridge over Slaughter Creek, a distance of about 16 miles; once you cross the bridge, you will be on Taylor’s Island and can follow the driving tour directions above.
Dorchester County: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Cambridge – Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Dorchester County Side) ◾ Cambridge – Great Marsh Park ◾ Cambridge – Oakley Street ◾ Cambridge – Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center ◾ Chesapeake Forest – North Tara Road ◾ Elliott Island Road / Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (Eastern Section) ◾ Hooper’s Island
Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum ◾ Choptank Marina ◾ Daniel Crouse Memorial Park ◾ Idylwild Wildlife Management Area ◾ Martinak State Park ◾ Skeleton Creek Road & Bethlehem Road ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)
Somerset County: Deal Island Wildlife Management Area ◾ Fairmount Wildlife Management Area ◾ Irish Grove MOS Sanctuary ◾ Janes Island State Park ◾ Rumbley Boat Ramp ◾ Smith Island
Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Talbot County Side) ◾ Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Claiborne Landing ◾ Mill Creek MOS Sanctuary ◾ Pickering Creek Audubon Center ◾ Poplar Island
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
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerows FarmyardLawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & StreamsSalt or Brackish Marsh
Birding By CarBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchCampingFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsWater View
Audubon Important Bird AreasChesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreDriving Tours (Birding By Car)Water Trails