Top Places For

Spotting Rare and Endangered Species

The Chesapeake is home to thousands of plants and animals. A number of these species are particularly special because they’re rare -- and some are even endangered.

Rare and endangered species can be found at dozens of spots across our region, from the mountains all the way to the Bay’s shores. When you visit these places, keep in mind that some of our most sensitive species live here. Leave no trace and respect the land and water so that these animals may thrive.

If you’ve ever explored the Eastern Shore, you’ve likely heard of the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. These large, gray ground squirrels live in peaceful mature forests in places like Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Wye Island, and Tuckahoe State Park. If you want to try and spy a Delmarva fox squirrel, make sure you stay very quiet as you walk through the woods!

Down in the Chesapeake’s southern waters, sea turtles visit seasonally to feed in the Bay’s shallows and lay their eggs on sandy beaches. The two most common types of sea turtles in the Bay are the threatened loggerhead and the endangered Kemp’s ridley. Virginia state parks like Kiptopeke and First Landing are prime spots for sea turtle viewing. But if you ever see a stranded sea turtle, report it right away to the Virginia Aquarium at (757) 385-7575.

It’s not an endangered species, but the bobcat is still a rare sight around our parts. That’s because these elusive cats are most active at night. Bobcats live throughout the region, but your best chance to see one is likely in a mountainous location like Shenandoah National Park, Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks, Green Ridge State Forest, or Hyner Run State Park.

Even at the top places for spotting rare and endangered species, it’s still a special treat to glimpse one of these animals. So if you see one, don’t approach it; just appreciate the view from afar.

Tree Lined Path at Adkins Arboretum

Adkins Arboretum

Adkins Arboretum explores the environment of an upstream Bay tributary on the Eastern Shore. This 400-acre preserve is located on Tuckahoe Creek and includes portions of one of the region's most significant forested wetlands.

Ridgely, MD

Fog Covered Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

An Eastern Shore wildlife refuge attracting vast numbers of waterfowl to quintessential Bay tidal wetlands. While primarily a tidal marsh, the refuge also includes a mature pine forest.

Cambridge, MD

Footbridge to Beach at First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is located near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay close to the spot where Captain John Smith landed in 1607. First Landing is Virginia's most popular state park with over a million visitors each year.

Virginia Beach, VA

Green Ridge State Forest

Green Ridge State Forest

Green Ridge State Forest is the second largest of Maryland's State Forests consisting of a 46,000-acre oak-hickory forest. It is located in eastern Allegany County, approximately eight miles east of Flintstone off I-68 at Exit 64.

Flintstone, MD

Hyner Run State Park

Hyner Run State Park

The stream Hyner Run carves a small valley from the surrounding steep mountains, creating a cozy, quiet place for an outdoor adventure. The park is entirely surrounded by Sproul State Forest, Pennsylvania’s largest state forest.

North Bend, PA

Sunrise at Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park's location near the tip of the Chesapeake's Eastern Shore makes the park a prime location for bird-watching. Migrating birds congregate at this point on the Delmarva before moving on to breeding or wintering grounds.

Cape Charles, VA

Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck State Park

Overlooking the Potomac River, the park is a haven for migrating bird species in spring and fall. It has hiking trails, 3 miles of paved multi-use trails, a large picnic area, a playground, a car-top canoe launch and a visitor center.

Lorton, VA

Children at Pickering Creek Audubon Center

Pickering Creek Audubon Center

With over 400 acres of forests, fields and shoreline on the Eastern Shore, Pickering Creek Audubon Center provides a natural environment for learning about the Chesapeake Bay.

Easton, MD

Robinson Neck Preserve (Image courtesy: Dave Harp)

Robinson Neck Preserve

This Eastern Shore preserve is a delight for birders. where one finds undisturbed waterfowl habitat and a sanctuary for bald eagles.

Church Creek, MD

Scenic Overlook of Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is your escape to recreation and re-creation. Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—plan a hike, a meander along Skyline Drive, or a picnic with the family.

, VA

Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area - Lonecellotheory/Flickr

Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Enjoy spectacular scenery and outstanding outdoor recreation at the headwaters of the Potomac River.

Seneca Rocks, WV

Paddler at Tuckahoe State Park

Tuckahoe State Park

Tuckahoe State Park is a great place to get a feel for part of the Eastern Shore and the beginnings of the streams that eventually flow to the Bay. The park offers fishing, boating, hiking, biking, equestrian trails and more.

Queen Anne, MD

Hunters at Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area

Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area

Located in the tidal recesses of the Chesapeake Bay between the Wye River and the Wye East River, Wye Island offers 2,800 acres of habitat for wintering waterfowl populations and other native wildlife.

Queenstown, MD

August 31, 2015

Main image: A Delmarva fox squirrel perched on a tree branch. (Image courtesy: Chesapeake Bay Program)
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