Everyone who has
explored Blackwater Refuge has special memories about their visit. If you would like to submit your comments
about Blackwater, please send them to our webmaster at . We will be happy to include them in the Journal.
My 10 year old grand twins were here from Baltimore and they always ask to visit Blackwater. It doesn't matter the season, they just want another visit. We loaded four bikes on the back of the Yukon and off we went. We rode the Wildlife Drive from beginning to end and back! They love visiting the Refuge and our day on Wednesday was just beautiful. The wind kept the bugs at bay and kept us cool. We saw an elusive red fox scurrying into the brush but didn't get a glimpse of the Delmarva Fox Squirrel. Lots of birds were seen, eagles, egrets, cranes, white swan, young osprey with their wings spread in anticipation of the first flight! There was the terrapin sunning on a log, as always. The improvements to the drive are marvelous. We picnicked on the grounds out front of the Visitor Center. What a great place! Our thanks to all the staff and volunteers.
July 15, 2009
I visited Blackwater for my first time this past Sunday, May 6, on a very, very windy
and chilly morning. Although I only birded this morning for about 3 hours, it was one of
the most memorable outings I have had in recent experience. I began a walk down the
Wildlife Drive with a sighting of a Bald Eagle soaring over the marshes. I shortly
thereafter observed a few Great Egret and Great Blue Heron involved in various morning
activities. As I continued my walk along the road through the wetlands, I observed
several Least Sandpiper and Semipalmated Plover feeding in the mudflats, a Common
Tern who would hover in the air for a time and then suddenly dive and plunge into
the water in an attempt to catch a fish, a Laughing Gull who apparently found my
presence there quite amusing, and also a Pine Warbler. The highlight of my walk this
morning though would have to be the time I sat along the road and watched the Osprey
at their nest site. The female remained on the nest hunkered down against the wind
while the male would come around from time to time but otherwise was out fishing; I
actually had the amazing experience of seeing the male with a fish in it's talons.
He carried it to the top of a dead tree and perched there while feeding. It was amazing
to see and share this moment with this incredible raptor. Other species I observed here
this morning included Glossy Ibis, many Canada Geese and Red Winged Blackbird, Black
Capped Chickadee, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Mallard, and Northern Cardinal. The
grand finish of my excursion this morning was when I took a walk along the Woods Trail
before leaving for the morning where I observed a Carolina Wren, a species I had never
seen previously. Overall, my morning spent at Blackwater was one of the most enjoyable
birding outings I have had and the bird life and behaviors I was priveleged enough to
witness this morning have assured that I will be returning to Blackwater as often as
possible. A truly wonderful place.
Bloomsburg, PA - Sunday, May 6, 2007
This is my most memorable experience while visting Blackwater. It was a Saturday in late October, 2001; our bird watching group had
scheduled a walk through the Refuge. However, due to surgery on my right foot, my
walking was limited. Instead of missing the trip, I decided to find a nice
spot, set up my camera and catch whatever went by. As I was on my way back
to the car for the last of my needs, there was a rustling in the trees above
me. I looked up and there were the talons of a beautiful bald eagle, just
above my head. I tried to raise my camera to capture the moment, but of
course I had just attached the zoom and all I got was the memory! The photo
was a great shot of the sky and leaves of the tree, but alas the eagle was
gone. I will never forget the size of the talons or the spread of the wings.
It was a wonderful day!
Baltimore MD - Tuesday, October 31, 2006
My family decided to visit the refuge after watching your Eagle Cam on the website. We're so glad
that we did! It was wonderful seeing eagles from the Wildlife Drive and also seeing the eagles live
on the Eagle Cam monitor at the Visitor Center. What a treat! We plan to return to see the ospreys live
on the Osprey Cam monitor.
The Sanders Family
Virginia - Sunday, March 12, 2006
I recently went kayaking on your new paddling trails. I had a wonderful time and was especially happy
to see a different side of the refuge -- one I could only see from the water. Thanks for the trails!
Maryland - Saturday, June 4, 2005
While spending time on the Wildlife Drive recently, I was amazed to see bald eagles hanging out on the Osprey Cam platform. While I was watching them, a family came up the Drive on bikes. They stopped to look at the eagles, and one of the youngsters said aloud that he had never seen a bald eagle in the wild before. He was awestruck and stared at them in amazement for some time. I realized then what an important role refuges play, not only for wildlife but for people too - they give people like that young man a memory that will last a lifetime. I felt fortunate to be there, too.
Maryland - Monday, November 24, 2003
A few years ago, I discovered that a co-worker was a birder. As a beginner myself, I was full of questions. He recommended that my husband and I visit Blackwater. We skeptically decided to go and see if we could spot a bald eagle. Were we EVER in for a suprise. The staff was so helpful by instructing us how and where to look for the eagles. We saw eleven that day. Considering we had never seen one before, this was fantastic. We've come back in the spring to see the fledglings. What a treat that was. I strongly recommend anyone to drive the surrounding areas after leaving the refuge. On the side roads we were able to observe many species of birds. We are grateful for all the help that the staff was able to provide for us.
Westville, NJ USA - Monday, May 26, 2003
We’ve been coming to Blackwater NWR for many years. We come for the great birding and also because you get to see some interesting animals. We’ve seen black snakes, whitetail deer, turtles, muskrat, Delmarva fox squirrels, and many butterflies. I think the refuge is especially magical during the fall migration when there are so many geese in the fields and on the water. Blackwater is a very special place, and I hope we do all we can to ensure its future health.
Annapolis, MD - Saturday, February 01, 2003
On November 2, two friends and I visited Blackwater for a day of birding. What a day! We spotted over 40 species in a few hours, including Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed hawks, a Rough-legged hawk, a Cooper's Hawk, a Merlin, several Kestrels, black vultures and turkey vultures, Dark-eyed Juncos, Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, A green-winged teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwalls, Wood Ducks, a Belted Kingfisher, and too many Great Blue Herons to keep track. The Eagles were so cooperative that we managed to frame a pair in the spotting scope at such close range that we could see their pupils! It was a wonderful day of birding for us.
Washington, DC USA - Friday, November 08, 2002
A few members of the Friends of John Hienz NWR Photo Group visited Blackwater at the end of April and had a great time. We lost count of the number of egrets, great blue heron, red-winged blackbirds and eagles we saw. Great job on the Visitors' Center! Keep up the good work.
Boothwyn, Pa. USA - Wednesday, May 08, 2002
Thank you for the wonderful chance to view nature at it's best. Blackwater is beautiful every season of the year. I hope it lasts forever.
Dundalk, Md. USA - Sunday, November 25, 2001
My family has been making up to 20 trips a year to blackwater,the sites we have seen over 40 yrs. will forever live in our mem. the young eagles and foxes stand out the most,our children learned a lot about nature.Thank you.
David A. Malkus
Dundalk, Maryland usa - Sunday, November 25, 2001
We just returned from our visit to the area and we had the most spectacular time at Blackwater. My husband, 8 year-old and I spent an entire day driving and hiking around. We saw so many birds and animals and took a million pictures. The pictures will never convey to others the excitement of watching nature at its best. What a wonderful place and a truly wonderful way to share it with humans! We've already planned our trip to return and see the migratory birds.
Baltimore, MD - Friday, April 20, 2001
As a student and later as a school teacher in Dorchester County I had the opportunity to work in the Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) at Blackwater during several summers. A lifelong memory for me is a warm July day a group of students and myself went to work on replacing boundary markers at the far edge of the refuge. On entering the woods from a irrigation dyke we encountered a large immature bald eagle on the ground. Obviously injured and unable to fly I notified the refuge and staff came out to capture the wild yet still majestic bird. Expecting "fancy" equipment of wild life biologists they came packing their burlap sacks. With help of the kids we were able to capture the bird in about 30 minutes of 3 stooges antics. Now calm we were able to look at a bald eagle up close. A beak and talons only seen from afar but now up close were to be respected. In my mind forever will be the eys of that terrified bird.... large round and the most beautiful shade of brown I have ever seen. Clearly befitting the majesty of our national symbol. The bird was safely transported to Patuxent and we later learned multiple wing injuries would prevent its rerelease to the wild. The memory of that hot afternoon and the capture has remained a "teachable" moment forever in my mind. I hope the students I worked with realize the opportunities we had those two summers.This but one. Our experiences will remain with me always. How fortunate to be in our own backyard. To the staff of Blackwater past and future.....thank you for you guidance and sometime patience in teaching myself and the others in the YCC program about our environment.
Ocean City, Md USA - Tuesday, January 09, 2001
I recall one November afternoon when we visited the refuge to see the Canada geese migration. It was a crystal clear day and we could hear geese calling from almost every stop on the Wildlife Drive. As we approached the end of the Drive, we got out of the car to watch the geese fly in from the adjacent fields and we're treated to the sight of a sunset in front of us and a moonrise behind us. The beautiful sky and the abundant wildlife made it a very special day.
Annapolis, MD - Wednesday, December 13, 2000
I have many fond memories of Blackwater Refuge, but the one that I remember most vividly was the time I took a friend to Blackwater for his very first visit. My friend wasn't much of a birder, but he was excited about his chances of seeing a bald eagle and so was I.
We had chosen a beautiful day to visit the Refuge and as we drove around the Wildlife Drive we spotted many herons, geese, and ducks. However, about a mile into the Drive we noticed two bald eagles circling overhead, so we pulled our car over and got out to watch them. As we studied their dark forms, one of the bald eagles suddenly lowered his altitude and, with talons outstretched, dove toward the water. As we watched awestruck, he snatched a large fish from the river and then proceeded to take it to a nearby mud bank where he tore it apart with his large, powerful beak. My friend and I both commented that we felt like we were watching a nature show on TV, but, amazingly, we were there in-person to see this wonderful spectacle.
Although my friend has made many trips to the Refuge over the years, to this day he still talks about his first trip to Blackwater and the time he got to see a bald eagle in action. It was a day we'll always remember.
Germantown, MD - Tuesday, November 28, 2000