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Snow Geese Explosion! Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

  • Nov 20, 2016 · 1:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

Snow Geese Explosion at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge! A Newbie Friendly, Very Easy, and Flat 8 Mile Hike (with Bailouts) and Optional Post Hike Meal

Note: There will also a supply of binoculars on loan for this special trip if you do not have a pair of your own. Loaner binoculars are on a first come first serve basis once you are at the park and not able to be reserved in advance.

In one of the greatest animal migrations on the planet, every fall, a multitude of birds migrate through the Eastern Shore of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Raptors, Canada geese, tundra swans (yes, swans), and ducks of every sort pass through the area gathering in increasing numbers as autumn gives way to winter. But one event dwarfs them all – the arrival of tens of thousands of snow geese by the end of November when their cacophonous gaggles darken the winter skies over the Delmarva Peninsula.

Arguably the best place to witness this migration is Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. A low marsh landscape tucked in a remote corner of bay tidewater just north of Dover, every winter Bombay Hook plays host to as many as 200,000 snow geese.

As impressive as seeing tens of thousands of brilliant white snow geese at one time, nothing compares to watching them suddenly explode into flight in unison, an event known as “liftoff.” And understandably so, as it arguably compares in excitement to the launch of a rocket ship bound for space and I lived in Florida for 18 years and saw many! Without warning, an entire flock will explode into the air, with the sound like a shotgun blast of several thousand wings suddenly beating at once. As the flock wheels through the sky overhead, their awe-inspiring number can even block out the sun. The snow geese tend to congregate in several large flocks scattered throughout the refuge. While we know their favorite hangout, Raymond Pool, and Bear Swamp Pool, the flocks don’t always stay in one place. 

The best times to view liftoff are at sunset, which is why we are enjoying the rest of the refuge first and ending it with the highlight of the trip, followed by an optional meal before returning home. We learned the hard way many years ago, that going out there when it is the most convenient for us as humans, such during the middle of the day, was a flop. This is because the geese randomly fly away to feed in nearby farmers’ fields, but later return to the refuge to spend the night. As a result, their numbers are the greatest from late afternoon to early morning. We plan to arrive at least two hours before sunset to hopefully experience what you see in the upper photos above, taken by Ian Plant, who also took all photos on this page…thanks, Ian. If the birds cooperate, then it will be a most special experience. This truly is a heart-pounding event—you may even feel the urge to take flight yourself, but will find that breaking the earth’s gravitation pull is rather difficult—so stay to watch as many liftoffs as you can.

Hike Pace

This is a nature enjoyment hike and not about elevation change or how fast we are hiking. If you are looking for a different type of hike, please sign up for one of our other events today. This truly is a bird/wildlife hike, hence a fantastic social hike as well.

Trail Information

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Dover, DE
Length:
Up to 8 total miles with several bails out options as we will be on several shorter trails throughout the refuge.
Elev. Gain:
Pretty much none 
Trail Type:
Loop
Skill Level:
Very Easy
Season:
Mid-Late November for Snow Geese Migration

Local Contacts: Refuge Manager, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
Local Maps:
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Loop Topo Map USGS Bombay Hook, Delaware;

Weather Information
We hike rain or shine. Click here to see an up to the minute forecast for where we will be hiking and enjoying the birds and other wildlife.

Carpool Suggestions and Information

Note that you are responsible for knowing how to get from carpool locations to the venue. Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group is not responsible for transportation to and from events or carpools. Suggested carpool times and locations are provided as a courtesy because many members are either new to the area or unfamiliar with a particular hike or venues location. Please use the Comments section below, or reach out via e-mail to make arrangements for carpooling needs and offerings.

Baltimore Area Carpool Suggestion - Savage Station
To carpool or caravan from the Baltimore area, people can arrange to meet at Savage Station. Click Here for directions and additional information regarding carpooling from the suggested Savage Station location.

If you can drive or want to carpool from any particular location, please post your offer to help those in need of a ride, and those looking for a ride, in the comment section below. Click Here for a list of suggested carpool locations, each complete with a physical address, GPS coordinates, driving directions and additional carpool information.For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment — by just offering a ride!

Directions to the Trailhead 
Click Here for Directions to Where We Meet for this Hike

Meet & Greet and Sign-In — 12:45-12:55 p.m.

The Hike is at 1:00 p.m.

Carpool Time from Savage Station — 11:00 a.m

Please remember we are a volunteer supported organization that values fellowship and camaraderie while practicing good hike etiquette and Leave No Trace principles. Our hikes are led by generous, dedicated, and qualified MAHG members who volunteer as leaders for Mid-Atlantic Hiking Groups volunteer leadership team. Hikes also have a volunteer “sweeper” to help ensure that no hiker is left behind. MAHG volunteers and members are very supportive, encouraging, with a focus on safety while enjoying the excellent camaraderie and benefiting from the many health benefits of hiking and unplugging from the stress of day-to-day life. Sharing what we know and learning from each other is an important part of MAHGs core values, as is our dedication to the conservation of our natural resources and our commitment to the organization's mission. Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group is a volunteer supported tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, and donations ARE tax deductibleTax ID: [masked].

A Well-Mannered, Leashed Fido is Welcome on this Hike!

Let’s have good times out on the trails and see you there!

Mike:[masked]

Chuck:[masked]

• Click Here to Chip In Now and Help Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group in Serving our Mission.

• Donations to Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group are Tax Deductible: Tax ID[masked]. Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charitable organization. 

• Click Here to Learn more about Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group’s Mission. 

• 100% of Every Dollar Goes Directly to the Expenses of Serving our Mission.

Join or login to comment.

  • Kellie C.

    Thanks so much!

    1 · November 24

  • Loan P.

    Great hike. Great people. Thanks for organizing the event. We saw a small group of snow geese about a dozen, lots of ducks, and a blue heron. Special thanks to Penny who lead and ensure we stay safe. Thanks Judy for letting me borrow your hat!

    3 · November 23

    • Penny L.

      Loan, thank you for coming out and for sharing pics.

      1 · November 23

  • Amy

    Chilly weather but great people and great hike! Fantastic sunset!

    2 · November 21

  • Chuck

    Thanks Mike for leading the brave souls who despite the wind and chill came and conquered Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge! Nice meeting all of you new folks and glad you could make it today! Mary and Pat very nice seeing you lovely ladies again, as always! Hope to see each one of you on another great MAHG adventure very soon! Don't forget to rate the hike and upload those pictures!

    November 20

  • Mary E.

    Beautiful fall day, if a little bracing! Too bad there weren't any snow geese.

    1 · November 20

  • Pat

    very nice place.

    2 · November 20

  • Pat

    Great day. Even the birds were having trouble fighting the wind

    2 · November 20

  • Loretta

    Great walk! Amazingly beautiful and stunning sunset!

    2 · November 20

  • Danny

    Very good hike even though we didn't see the snow geese.

    1 · November 20

  • Pat

    Brrr - it sure is windy out here

    1 · November 20

  • Danny

    Hello, I will meet at the Savage Park & Ride at 11am, and am willing to drive also.

    November 19

    • Danny

      I left from the Savage car pool at 11.

      November 20

    • Nancy

      Seems like I cannot make it today.

      November 20

  • Sue

    Unfortunately, not able to make it. My daughter came down with a really bad cold. Have a great time.

    November 20

  • Chuck

    Going to be windy and chilly tomorrow! Come prepared folks. It's also going to be a blast....or explosion rather! (:

    1 · November 19

    • Nancy

      What is the address if I drive there.

      November 20

  • Nancy

    I need car pool. But when will the group leave? I live in Catonsville . Please text or call me at:4434166974. Thanks.

    November 20

  • Ed

    Sounds like a wonderful and creative event, good job, organizers.

    November 20

39 went

Your organizer's refund policy for Snow Geese Explosion! Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Refunds offered if:

  • the Meetup is cancelled

Additional notes: This special event is non-refundable. Visit midatlantichikinggroup.org to learn about MAHG's story and our important mission. On Meetup, click the 'Pages' tab for hiking and policy information. MAHG is a mission-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.

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