At a Glance

Hours: Homer Gudelsky Park- 6 am to dusk. Park-n-Ride – open for bus service 6 am to 2 am (hence OK to park) during the summer season; use your judgment at other times since hours are not posted.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Bring a scope. ◾Homer Gudelsky Park is trash-free; if you bring any snacks, take your trash with you. ◾ Portable restroom at Homer Gudelsky Park; availability might be seasonal. Restrooms are available at the Park-n-Ride only in summer. The nearest permanent public restrooms are in the Ocean City Outlets, on the north side of Route 50 at 12741 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City, MD 21842. The restrooms are located at the northeast corner of the shopping center, down a long walkway that goes behind the stores. There is also a restroom at the West Ocean City Public Boat Ramp on Sunset Avenue just east of Golf Course Road.

Best Seasons: The birds are great year-round, but the vacationing crowds are problematic during the summer.

Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Park-n-Ride is situated on the boundary between Ocean City NW and Ocean City CW; Homer Gudelsky Park: Ocean City CW

Local MOS Chapters: Tri-County Bird Club

West Ocean City Park-n-Ride & Homer Gudelsky Park

Park n’ Ride: 12848 Ocean Gateway, West Ocean City, MD 21842 | 410-723-2174
Homer Gudelsky Park: 13055 Old Bridge ROAd, West Ocean City, MD 21842 | (410) 632-2144

The West Ocean City Park-n-Ride and Homer Gudelsky Park are mainland bookends to Ocean City Inlet and Sunset Park. These four spots, plus the 4th Street Mudflats/Skimmer Island and West Ocean City Pond, make a traditional grouping for birding around Ocean City.

You’re probably thinking: birding at a Park-n-Ride? But the West Ocean City Park-n-Ride has its own marsh, along with a boardwalk and viewing platform, and offers a handy place to pick up some birds that you won’t see at the Ocean City Inlet or other nearby spots. The Park-n-Ride is located on the mainland, in an area of West Ocean City known as Shantytown, where the working fish fleet docked in the days when Ocean City had a bustling working port. There are still a few docks here used by commercial fishermen, but these days, Shantytown is an up-scale area with pleasure boat marinas, modern houses and condos, and nice restaurants. The Park-n-Ride is a hub for bus shuttle service to the resort areas of Ocean City during the busy summer season. Between September and May, it’s a quiet spot where you can find marsh-dwellers such as waterfowl, rails, shorebirds, gulls and terns, herons and egrets, and wetland sparrows such as Seaside, Saltmarsh, and Swamp.

The city-owned Park-n-Ride has two sections: a small rectangular section with a Transit Center/Bus Stop building located immediately adjacent to the south side of US Route 50, and a larger section with a triangular parking lot that is south of Inlet Isle Lane (may be marked Shantytown Lane on older maps). This large triangular lot is where the boardwalk and observation platform are located (see area map at link at left). The parking lot also features a reconstructed drive-through railroad bridge with small constructed wetlands on either side. Park anywhere in the triangular lot and head for the observation platform at the south end. Here you will have an excellent overview of the 33-acre marsh. At any time of year, be sure to check the woody vegetation on the south and west edges of the marsh for roosting herons and egrets, including Black-crowned and Yellow-Crowned Night-Herons. Also check the tops of the tall trees for perched raptors, especially during migration. You might want to stop in after dark or in early morning to try for rails – both Clapper and Virginia are regular.

Homer Gudelsky Park is right around the corner from the Park-n-Ride. From the triangular parking lot, go south on the unnamed access road that runs along the west side of the lot to Old Bridge Road, and turn left to go east. Homer Gudelsky Park is located where Old Bridge Road ends at Sinepuxent Bay, with the inner mouth of the Ocean City Inlet within easy view to the south. As the road name implies, this is where a railroad bridge crossed the bay in former times; the other side of the railroad bridge is where Sunset Park is now located. Veteran birders will remember that not so long ago, Old Bridge Road was lined with humble wooden cottages and fishing shanties. Times have changed and the area has been gentrified, with tall multi-level homes supplanting most of the little cottages.

Homer Gudelsky Park is just an acre with a little spit of sand and some native vegetation at the end of Old Bridge Road. In the old days, this was a good spot to find shorebirds and waders, as well as to look for loons, grebes, and waterfowl in the waters of the bay, under the Route 50 bridge, and at the inner mouth of the Ocean City Inlet. These days, beach-goers, dog-walkers, and fishermen, as well as boaters moored at the beach, keep the little strip of sand busy, and the shorebirds are a little harder to come by, but especially in winter, this is still an excellent spot to scope the quiet waters of the channel for waterfowl, loons, grebes, gulls, and terns. Remember to check the grasses and shrubs for sparrows and other passerines. You can peek under the Route 50 bridge to get a glimpse of Skimmer Island on the north side of the bridge, a roosting spot for gulls, terns, shorebirds and others. Note that the county-owned public park does not extend the full length of the sand spit; the north end, with its rocky bulwark at the water channel, as well as the marsh behind the sand spit, are privately owned. Please obey any “No Trespassing” signs.

Birdlife:

The eBird hotspot for West Ocean City – Park & Ride lists over 115 species, while the hotspot for West Ocean City – Homer Gudelsky Park lists over 120 species.  The birdlife at the two locations is a little different; we’ll describe the Park-n-Ride first.

About 14 species of waterfowl have been observed at the Park-n-Ride; the true sea-going species such as Brant, eiders, scoters, Harlequins, and Long-tails do not occur here, but that still leaves a nice assortment of birds from Tundra Swans through Ruddy Ducks.  Reported rails include Virginia and Clapper. Shorebirds regularly found at the Park-n-Ride marsh include American Oystercatcher, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, and Willet. The usual gulls include Laughing, Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed; be sure to carefully check the visible pilings at the adjoining marinas in order to check for any rare gulls, which do turn up in the area. The regular terns are Least, Forster’s, and Royal – given the size differences between these three, identification should be a snap, but be aware of other possible terns such as Sandwich and Gull-billed, as well as Black Skimmer, that occur nearby on Skimmer’s Island in the Sinepuxent Bay.

Double-crested Cormorants are common for most of the year. Brown Pelicans may drop in or fly over during late summer. Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Green Herons, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and Glossy Ibis are all likely to be seen, though not all species at one time. The marsh may hold a Tricolored Heron or White Ibis, both of which are becoming more common in the area.

Osprey are numerous in the warm months, and may be present up through November. Other likely raptors include Cooper’s Hawk and Bald Eagle.

Belted Kingfishers are found, mostly in late winter. It would not be unusual to find a woodpecker out in the marsh or in the small stand of trees west of the access road; Downy Woodpeckers, in particular, like to work the sturdy stems of Phragmites reeds.

House and Carolina Wrens breed in the vicinity, and Marsh Wrens may turn up in spring or early summer. Gray Catbirds and Northern Mockingbirds are common. Also expect American Robins, House Sparrows, and House Finches. Song Sparrows and Eastern Towhees are regular in the marsh, and Swamp Sparrows overwinter. There have been rare sightings of Seaside and Saltmarsh Sparrows.

Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks might come through in summer, joining the more common Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles. This is a good spot to look and listen for Boat-tailed Grackles – you’ll probably hear their distinctive calls before you see them.

Common Yellowthroats breed in the marsh at the Park-n-Ride, and Yellow-rumped Warblers over-winter. Other possible warblers include Yellow, Blackpoll, Palm, and Pine. Northern Cardinals breed in the woodier vegetation on the edge, and Blue Grosbeaks perch up high to sing their hoarse songs.

The bird selection at Homer Gudelsky Park is different than at the Park-n-Ride because of the simpler habitat – sandy beach, open water, and some pilings for perching. The waterfowl species show more diversity, with Brant, Lesser Scaup, Common Eider, Surf and Black Scoters, and Long-tailed Duck among the 21 species of waterfowl. You can also expect Horned Grebe and Common and Red-throated Loons.

If you time your visit when the beach is devoid of people, you could find an American Oystercatcher or a Willet or another of about 10 species of shorebirds. Or a Clapper Rail might turn up in the little marsh.

The gull selection is similar to that at the Park-n-Ride, and the park is another good spot to carefully examine every gull for a possible rarity, such as the Glaucous Gull seen from here in February of 2019. For terns, you might see Common as well as Least, Forster’s, Royal, and Black Skimmer. The area around the Route 50 bridge seems to be especially favored by Least Terns. You might catch glimpses of Northern Gannets if you scan out toward the Ocean City Inlet or to the open ocean beyond the north tip of Assateague Island.

The vegetation at Homer Gudelsky Park might hold some good passerines during migration or during winter. Birds seen here include American Pipit, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Nelson’s Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and Swamp Sparrow. Four warblers are more or less expected, mostly in late fall: Orange-crowned, Common Yellowthroat, Palm, and Yellow-rumped (all winter).

Pet Policy:

Pets are allowed on leash at both locations; be prepared to pick up after your pet. Expect other dogs at Homer Gudelsky Park.

Wheelchair Access:

The observation platform at the West Ocean City Park-n-Ride is wheelchair-accessible and there is handicapped-designated parking near the platform. Homer Gudelsky Park is not wheelchair-accessible.

Special Designations:

Both the West Ocean City Park-n-Ride and Homer Gudelsky Park lie 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.

Special Features:

The West Ocean City area has a large selection of restaurants, ranging from little locally-owned casual places and take-outs to chain restaurants. There are also a couple of fresh seafood markets in the area, selling fish and shellfish fresh from the boats. ◾ If you’re looking for a spot to launch your kayak or canoe, that’s possible using the sandy beach at Homer Gudelsky Park. There is also a large public boat launch a couple of blocks south on Sunset Avenue, just east of the intersection with Golf Course Road. The Sunset Avenue boat launch provides access to Sinepuxent Bay and Ocean City Inlet; the facilities include lighted, paved parking, 6 paved boat ramps, and a restroom. 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.

The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Tri-County Club, serving Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties, and offering field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.

Parking:

Huge lot paved lot at the Park-n-Ride with space for hundreds of cars. Small paved pull-up lot at Homer Gudelsky Park with space for about 6 cars.

Directions:

West Ocean City Park-n-Ride and Homer Gudelsky Park are located on the mainland west of the Ocean City resort area, just south of US Route 50.

From Ocean City: Take US Route 50/Ocean Gateway west out of town and cross the bridge over Sinepuxent Bay. Turn left to go south on MD Route 626/Golf Course Road at the second traffic light after the bridge. At the first intersection, in 0.3 miles, turn left to go east on MD Route 707/Old Bridge Road. Go to the end of the road and the parking area for Homer Gudelsky Park will be on the left in 0.6 miles. After birding the park, return to your car and drive west on Old Bridge Road; in a ½ mile, turn right to go north on the unnamed access road for the Park-n-Ride. There is a small green sign for the Park-n-Ride at this intersection. (If you reach Golf Course Road, you’ve missed the access road and will need to turn around and go back). Drive north on the access road and the large triangular parking area will be apparent on your right (east side of the road).

From points north, such as Delaware: Use US Route 113 southbound toward Berlin and Ocean City. Upon reaching the interchange for US Route 50, follow signs for US Route 50 east toward Ocean City. In 5.0 miles, as you approach Ocean City, watch for MD Route 707/Old Bridge Road and turn right to go east. Stay straight on Old Bridge Road to its end at Sinepuxent Bay in 1.8 miles. The parking area for Homer Gudelsky Park will be on the left in 0.6 miles. After birding the park, return to your car and drive west on Old Bridge Road; in a ½ mile, turn right to go north on the unnamed access road for the Park-n-Ride. There is a small green sign for the Park-n-Ride at this intersection. (If you reach Golf Course Road, you’ve missed the access road and will need to turn around and go back). Drive north on the access road and the large triangular parking area will be apparent on your right (east side of the road).

From points south, such as Virginia: Use US Route 113 northbound toward Berlin and Ocean City. Upon reaching the interchange for US Route 50, follow signs for US Route 50 east toward Ocean City. In 5.0 miles, as you approach Ocean City, watch for MD Route 707/Old Bridge Road and turn right to go east. Stay straight on Old Bridge Road to its end at Sinepuxent Bay in 1.8 miles. The parking area for Homer Gudelsky Park will be on the left in 0.6 miles. After birding the park, return to your car and drive west on Old Bridge Road; in a ½ mile, turn right to go north on the unnamed access road for the Park-n-Ride. There is a small green sign for the Park-n-Ride at this intersection. (If you reach Golf Course Road, you’ve missed the access road and will need to turn around and go back). Drive north on the access road and the large triangular parking area will be apparent on your right (east side of the road).

From points west and north such as Salisbury, Easton, or the Western Shore: Use US Route 50/Ocean Gateway eastbound toward Ocean City. At the interchange with US Route 113, stay straight on US Route 50 but start counting miles. In 5.0 miles, as you approach Ocean City, watch for MD Route 707/Old Bridge Road and turn right to go east. Stay straight on Old Bridge Road to its end at Sinepuxent Bay in 1.8 miles. The parking area for Homer Gudelsky Park will be on the left in 0.6 miles. After birding the park, return to your car and drive west on Old Bridge Road; in a ½ mile, turn right to go north on the unnamed access road for the Park-n-Ride. There is a small green sign for the Park-n-Ride at this intersection. (If you reach Golf Course Road, you’ve missed the access road and will need to turn around and go back). Drive north on the access road and the large triangular parking area will be apparent on your right (east side of the road).

Nearby Sites:

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)Ocean City Inlet & Sunset Park ◾ Pocomoke State Forest – Hickory Point Cypress Swamp Natural Area ◾ Truitts Landing & Other Bayside Landings ◾ 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

Habitats:

Urban or Small Town Landscape Sandy Beach or Dunes Jetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuarySalt or Brackish Marsh

Features and Amenities:

BeginnersBoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry FeeObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Atlantic Ocean and Intercoastal WaterwaysAudubon Important Bird AreasCommunity and Urban ParksCounty Parks