Every Winter in Cambridge, Maryland, a vast array of ducks gather en masse at the dead end of an unassuming residential street. You can dive right into this birding hotspot, even if you are just a dabbler.
Cambridge is a typically quiet, historical mainstreet centered town, along the southern bank of the Choptank river on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. You may have driven through or bypassed the town with a fleeting thought of “We should stop there sometime.” Let the thought not flee, navigate to the Oakley Street waterfront and witness a stunning display of over-wintering ducks waiting to put on a show.
Over 90 species of birds have been spotted from the vicinity of Oakley Street but front and center you can see much prized Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaups, American Wigeons, Redheads, American Black Duck, hybrids and more. Locals and baiting photographers feed the flock, which has conditioned them to welcome the human presence and come close. Binoculars and big lenses are not an absolute necessity to see or capture the feeders near the wall, they will be waiting for you only several feet away.
Further out and also view-able from the “wall of shame” – so called by photography purists due to the cheat like ease of access to the wildlife – congregations of Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Long-tailed ducks , Scoters, and more brave the cold slow flow of the Choptank.
Avid photographers staking out for an hour or all day, you are nearly guaranteed to get a bragging rights level bird in flight shot. For central Maryland day-trippers like myself, who want to squeeze in a quick fix after visiting Blackwater or another Eastern Shore natural area, the Oakley street ducks will keep the smile on your face all the way back over the Bay Bridge.
Late November through early March are the prime times to visit Oakley street but be sure to check E Bird for the latest counts.
Remember, this is a residential neighborhood and the good people of Cambridge take great pride in their peaceful community. If you visit, please be respectful and if you find the street quite active, consider parking a few blocks away and walking over.