Bald Eagles

Return to Broadkill River

Thursday, June 18, 2020 found us spending a delightful afternoon paddling 8 miles on the picturesque Broadkill River. It’s been five years since we paddled the Broadkill, starting in Milton, DE, and we wondered why we hadn’t returned to such a scenic spot. Milton Memorial Park in downtown Milton provides a free launch ramp with plenty of free parking.

Boat ramp at Memorial Park in Milton

Memorial Park features a gazebo, playgrounds, picnic tables and a children’s train. (Most of which are currently closed due to Covid-19.

Paddling downstream one quickly leaves the buildings of Milton behind. Soon we saw the first of many great blue herons. Many were juveniles making us wonder if a heron rookery was near.

Turtles were in abundance as were osprey. The osprey on the Broadkill seemed very skittish and it took some time to get a good photo. The osprey on this river are successful hunters and we spotted 4 or 5 flying over the river with a fish held tightly in talons.

Roughly two miles downstream one finds the Edward McCabe Nature Conservancy Preserve on the right bank with a nice kayak dock. There are hiking trails from the dock which we avoided due to the abundance of ticks this season.

The view down river from the McCabe Preserve dock
Taking a break on the very nice kayak dock at the McCabe Preserve. Another mile downstream is the Smith Landing Campground.

A great blue heron strolling the mudflats and hunting for food

Our original plan was to paddle to Rt 1 and then turn around but at about 4 miles down stream the wind and waves picked up and made the going more difficult. We decided to turn around one mile short of our goal and let the wind and waves push us home. About this time some tall and beautiful white clouds began to roll

While our wildlife viewing had been excellent (including seeing a raccoon swim across the river) we began to wonder why we hadn’t seen any eagles. There were copious stands of pine trees along the shore and they looked like prime eagle habitat. Seconds after complaining we spotted an immature bald eagle sitting in a tree. The eagle went on to fly upstream in front of us and we saw him on three different occasions.

An immature bald eagle eyeing the river for fish

Eventually we came upon a heron that had caught a very large fish and was having problems trying to eat it. It began to try to swallow the fish whole and we wondered if the bird would be successful. At this time the heron grew tired of an audience and it flew off with half of the fish dangling from its mouth.

Closer to Milton we had one final surprise, a green heron hopping from branch to branch.
Returning to Milton

Launch Ramp is located in Memorial Park behind the library. Signage to the ramp is on Union Street. Port a Potty in parking lot. On weekdays plenty of parking next to ramp.

Numerous restaurants in Milton, including Irish Eyes just across the foot bridge.

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