Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Smyrna, Delaware 1

There are two reasons to visit Bombay Hook. Either you like wildlife, but aren’t able to hike or you would like to see a concentration of shore birds and other critters all in one place. Now that I’ve covered everyone with any interest in wildlife… Seriously, though, Bombay Hook is wonderful. You can literally drive around the loop and see tons of birds, a fox, a rabbit and a few deer. If you are at all mobile and can get out of the car, you can sit on benches to enjoy the view at several spots or you can park at stopping points and walk closer to the water. If you don’t have any problems hiking, there are several easy trails to observation tours that let you see even more birds and animals.

Common Yellow Throat

Bombay Hook Has Bugs

Along with all the exciting critters I observed, there are some less exciting friends on Bombay Hook. This year, ticks are especially bad. Discussing birds while walking up one of the short trails was difficult because of the gnats. There was a healthy fly population. (The kind that bite) And I was practically devoured by mosquitos! If you are distressed at the thought of dealing with creepy crawlies, you might want to stay in your car during your visit. I just made sure I wore long sleeves, jeans and boots that had been treated with the proper tick repellent a few days before my trip. I use Permethrin to treat my clothes. (Affiliate link) I also ended up having to use skin safe mosquito repellent on myself to ward off the flies partway through my trip. They were determined to bite and the tick repellent did not phase them!

Lesser Yellow Legs

Having a Successful Trip

I started my trip at the visitor center. When you are picking up maps and checking out the exhibit, ask for a cancelation for your passbook. Even if you don’t have a book, you can start collecting the cancelations on small slips of paper at each National Park, Refuge and Monument you visit. It is a fun way to keep track of where you’ve been, especially if you are traveling with children. Here are a few more tips for enjoying the day:

  • Go early to avoid baking in the heat of the afternoon sun. This also is a great way to see early morning visitors to the shoreline.
  • Bring plenty of water. Driving in a circle can be surprisingly thirsty work.
  • Have binoculars for those not traveling with a camera with a telephoto lens.
  • Bring a birding guide for on the fly identifications when you’re in a dead zone.
  • The visitor center is the best place to take a restroom break.
  • Don’t feed the animals. Many people feel that the severe mange problem affecting the foxes is from poor nutrition due to eating handouts from humans. Keep the hot dogs and peanuts in the car!
  • Put the camera down for at least a few minutes at each stop. Seeing with your eyes is a different experience than looking through the camera.
  • Swing through town to get a delicious snack from the Drunk’n Baker. We grabbed breakfast there before heading to the refuge and my breakfast pastry was amazing!

Red Wing Blackbird

For More Information

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

2591 Whitehall Neck Rd
Smyrna, DE 19977


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