Birding and Harpers Ferry History

Combine birding and history in this unique overnight tour to a rustic Washington family home and to Harpers Ferry.

In this overnight tour, you’ll have the unique opportunity to stay at the rustic Claymont mansion, a historic Washington family property located on a grand 400-acre estate. The property was surveyed by George Washington and owned by his grand nephew, Bushrod Corbin Washington. Claymont is a birding hotspot area as designated in eBird, a Cornell Lab of Ornithology worldwide database. Possible birds you’ll see include Wild Turkey and grassland specialists such as Field Sparrow and Eastern Meadowlark, flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, orioles, woodpeckers, raptors, owls , vireos, swallows, thrushes, and migrating Wood-Warblers.

Register in the late afternoon, have a catered dinner, and then listen to a lecture on this amazing Washington family home and what to expect the next day. An evening walk on the property to look for Barred, Great-horned Owl, and Eastern Screech-owl will be offered.

You’ll rise early to go birding (coffee and a snack will be available), return for breakfast, and bird again until lunch. After lunch in the Claymont mansion, you’ll be driven to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, for a custom tour of the town, led by expert National Park Service guides. After the tour, we’ll bus back to Claymont Court for tea and to say goodbyes to our fellow travelers.

“I am continually impressed with the meals at Claymont. Other places serve institutional food. Claymont’s is made by cooks who know how food should taste — delicious!”
—- Jackie Vergin, Retreat Organizer, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fairfax

What to Bring:
• Binoculars and/or cameras are encouraged.
• Your favorite field guide is optional (field guides will be available for your reference)
• Proper footwear, such as lightweight hiking boots and an extra pair of footwear in the event of wet conditions
• Clothing for the prevailing weather conditions
• A small pocket umbrella, in addition to rainwear, should keep you comfortable if it rains
• Water bottle or canteen that can be refilled
• Flashlight and batteries for evening owl walk
• Sunblock
• Insect repellent
• Sunhat or ball cap

Suggested reading:
Birding in West Virginia
Harpers Ferry National Park


Dates: May 8 – 9, 2018

Price: $329 per person

Activity Level:
Moderate activity. You should be in good health and be able to walk unassisted. Walking sticks are fine and encouraged if you normally use them. At Claymont, you will be walking through fields and forest terrain on unpaved informal trails on mostly level ground. You will be using stairways to access your sleeping quarters in the mansion, and in Harper’s Ferry, you will be walking on several hilly roads and climbing steps.

JOETTE BORZIK is a certified West Virginia Master Naturalist. She has birded in many countries, including Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Georgia, the Netherlands, the Mediterranean, Ecuador (including the Galapagos), Barbados, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Curacao, and Cuba. She co-leads Cuban Bird Surveys with Cuban ornithologists regularly.

At Harpers Ferry, you’ll go on a custom tour from an expert National Park Service ranger.

Harpers Ferry © Eric Drost

Shenandoah River © Nameer

Photos: Claymont Court © Jefferson County Historical Landmarks Commission, Harpers Ferry © Jennifer Boyer, Harpers Ferry © Eric Drost, Shenandoah River © Nameer