North Branch (C&O Canal)


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This is the best shorebirding spot in Allegany County. The shorebird tarps are on private property so it is important not to trespass. The birds can be viewed without trespassing by viewing from outside the fence along the road or even from the C&O Canal towpath (park on the Canal Side across from the center gate of the treatment facility and walk up onto the path). In the fall, birds start showing up in late July and are typically present in good numbers until mid-September especially when they are grounded by a storm. When a summer storm occurs, I often head to North Branch as soon as the rain stops. This strategy works pretty well and some birds may stick around for a while. When the skies have been clear for several days, all the birds that have eaten well tend to move on. Birds that can be found here regularly are Least, Semipalmated, Solitary, and Spotted Sandpipers, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plovers, and both Yellowlegs. Baird’s Sandpipers are annual here in late August. Special treats are White-rumped, Western and Stilt Sandpipers, Sanderling, Black-bellied Plover, and Wilson’s Phalarope. Ray Kiddy found a Whimbrel here May 25th(2002). From I-68 in Cumberland, take exit 43b (Industrial Boulevard) south. Go about 4.5 miles +/- and look for a brown sign for the North Branch C&O Canal access. Turn right onto PPG Road and make the first left turn onto River Road. You can park in the lot and walk down or drive on back (but don’t block access to the facility during business hours and never trespass by going behind the gates).

39.58596823 N, 78.74457389 W
The Tarps
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Site Location: 
Location Name: North Branch
United States

39° 35' 9.4848" N, 78° 44' 40.4664" W