At a Glance
Hours: Dawn to dusk.
Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ Although there is a lot of shoreline, it’s generally less productive than the other habitats in the park. ◾ There are portable restrooms at the parking area and one or two along the trails.
Best Seasons: Spring and fall. Winter is mostly about waterfowl and gulls. Summer is relatively unproductive.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Kent Island NW
Terrapin Nature Park
191 Log Canoe Circle, Stevensville, MD 21666
Terrapin Nature Park is a 276-acre Queen Anne’s County Park located on Kent Island on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is the #1 eBird hotspot in Queen Anne’s County in terms of number of species reported. Terrapin is a fall migrant trap and can be a standalone destination or easily added to any trip across the Bay Bridge. The park has a diversity of habitats, including tidal marshes and ponds, deciduous woodlots, hedgerows, early successional habitat, a narrow beach shoreline, and views of the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay. These diverse habitats are in close proximity to one another and make for fantastic birding during spring and fall migration. Birds funnel along the Bay shoreline during migration and refuel in the park. If you time your trip right with good migration conditions, migrants will be found in abundance.
Terrapin Nature Park has well maintained trails, affording the opportunity for short birding walks or outings several hours long, without having to cover the same ground twice. A gazebo and wheelchair-accessible boardwalk, located along the beach, afford a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and park benches located along the trails provide a place to rest and watch for birds. The trails wander over several ridges, across marshlands and through woodlands, and there are two observation blinds overlooking the tidal ponds.
During migration birds can be found across the entire park, but there are several areas that attract a high diversity of birds: the sunny edge habitat surrounding the small meadow northwest of the parking area; the overgrown shrub/scrub area between the pond and the parking area; and the wooded edge along the southwest side of the pond.
Printed park maps are available at the parking area, or see at left for a link to download a geolocator enabled map that can be printed or loaded into a GPS app for on-the-ground navigation.
Over 245 species of birds have been reported on eBird from Terrapin Nature Park. A Say’s Phoebe in 2010 was a super-rarity, providing a third state record.
Spring and fall migrants can be numerous under the right conditions, though fall generally provides the best birding. Light northwest winds switching to northeast overnight are optimal for birders hoping to see lots of migrants in the fall. North or northwest winds during the fall can produce good raptor movements. Seeing over fifteen warbler species in the fall in one morning is possible, including Eastern Shore rarities such as Mourning Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, and Cerulean Warbler.
In winter, all three scoters, both of the expected loons, and a good diversity of Bay ducks can be expected when scanning the Bay in the winter from the beach or bluff. If you’re having a lucky day, you might see Northern Gannets close in to shore; they rarely venture north of the Bay Bridge, but they may be in the vicinity in years when conditions cause the waters are particularly saline.
If you time your trip to coincide with a low tide during peak shorebird migration in May-June or July-August-September, you might find a variety of shorebirds.
The pond usually hosts a small roosting flock of gulls, and terns can be seen feeding over the pond in summer. All species of Maryland herons are possible as well.
Paved lot at entrance off Log Cabin Circle.
A wheelchair-accessible boardwalk is located along the beach. The trails at the park connect to the County’s Cross-Island Trail, which accommodates both wheelchairs and bicycles. ◾ There is additional parking for the Cross-Island Trail at nearby Old Love Point Park. ◾ Two maps of the Kent Island Water Trails are available to download from the Queen Anne’s County Parks website (scroll down on the page to view the links to the maps). ◾ Terrapin Nature Park is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society centered in Queen Anne’s County, so local birders may be members of chapters in adjoining counties: the Kent County Bird Club, the Caroline County Bird Club, or the Talbot Bird Club, all of which offer field trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
From US Route 50 near the east end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge: Take Exit 37 for MD Route 8 and head north toward Stevensville. In 0.4 miles, turn left (north) into the business park on Skipjack Parkway. In 0.2 miles, turn left at the stop sign turn onto Log Canoe Circle. The park entrance and parking area will be on your left in less than a 1/2 mile. See trail map at link below for parking location and trail-head.
Queen Anne’s County: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center – Horsehead ◾ Conquest Preserve ◾ Ferry Point Park ◾ Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach / Matapeake Fishing Pier & Boat Ramp ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Queen Anne’s County) ◾ Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area
Kent County: Buckingham Public Landing & Morgnec Road Public Landing ◾ Chesapeake Farms & St. Paul’s Millpond ◾ Chestertown: Wilmer Park, Wayne Gilchrest Trail, & Chestertown WWTP ◾ Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Millington Wildlife Management Area ◾ Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area & Turner’s Creek Park
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)
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
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerows Suburban Neighborhood Old Fields, Shrubby MeadowsSandy Beach or Dunes Freshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuarySalt or Brackish Marsh
Features:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)BoardwalkFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:#1 Hotspot in County or CityChesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreChesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkCommunity and Urban ParksHiker-Biker Trails (Paved)Water Trails