On Wednesday, May 13, 2020 we launched at Roger C Fisher Park in Laurel, DE on Broad Creek. We were headed 7 miles downstream on Broad Creek to Phillips Landing where we’d parked a second car. Even though we were surrounded by the buildings of Laurel, the trees along the water presented us with a façade of wilderness and beautiful reflections in the still creek waters. Our trip today was timed to begin at high tide which allowed us to ride the outgoing flow and access many of the side guts off Broad Creek.
On this bright sunny day the turtles were out in full force taking advantage of the heat. Virtually every dead tree poking out of the water was festooned with reptiles. Normally turtles are very skittish and dive into the water as soon as we get within 10-15 feet. These turtles seemed loathe to give up their sunny spots and many of them ignored us as we paddled past.
After a brief paddle downstream we spotted a woodpecker (uncertain of the species) flying materials of some sort to a dead tree with a hole in the trunk. Once the woodpecker landed on the tree we heard the loud squawking of what may have been babies inside the hole.
Very quickly we saw the first of many ospreys along the creek banks. This osprey was just sitting in a tree and scanning about. While most of the other ospreys we spotted were busy working on nests or sitting on eggs.
In a small gut we found an osprey nest with a pair of ospreys working hard to fly up lining materials in an effort to refurbish it. They were very industrious and taking turns. One would stay in the nest and the other would fly off to return with a piece of moss or similar greenery.
Continuing downstream we saw more and more osprey nests occupied by egg sitting ospreys. Many of them were on wooden platforms built especially to serve for this purpose.
Shortly past Bethel we passed the site of a small heron rookery. The loud racket made by the herons announced the presence of the rookery long before we saw the birds.
Turning into a small gut on the right hand side of the creek we saw a beaver busily swimming back to his beaver house. Then, to our astonishment a wood duck couple appeared. We have looked in vain for the elusive wood ducks while kayaking. Here at last was a male wood duck in all his glory.
The rest of our paddle was not so eventful. We saw some additional osprey couples and of course several bald eagles but eventually we came to Phillips Landing and our parked car.
This trip was special not only because of seeing the beaver and the wood ducks but because it gave us a chance to get outside and see the beauty of nature. During this Covid19 pandemic we have had far too few opportunities to do just that.
Directions: Roger C. Fisher Park is on 6th Street in Laurel. Phillips Landing is approximately 15 minutes away and located on Phillips Landing Rd.
Services: No port a john at Laurel Park or Phillips Landing as of 5/16/2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. Several restaurants in the area, the Laurel Coffee Shop receives excellent reviews.