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Parkers Marsh Natural Area Preserve
© DCR-DNH, Gary P. Fleming

Parkers Marsh Natural Area Preserve


The Parkers Marsh Natural Area Preserve incorporates Chesapeake Bay beach habitat, low marsh, high marsh and shrub and forest vegetation. The wetland communities provide habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, including migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. The extensive saltmarsh is by far the most notable feature within this area, comprising approximately 75% of the site. A maritime shrub community supporting species such as marsh elder (Iva frutescens) and black cherry is found on old dune ridges in the marsh and on the bay shore. Narrow bands of forest dominated by loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and black cherry (Prunus serotina var. serotina) occur along the tops of old dunes. Some of the low primary dunes support grassland species such as saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens) and beach panic grass (Panicum amarum var. amarulum, = Panicum amarulum). The salt marsh at this site provides ideal habitat for marsh nesting birds. One rare marsh nesting species, the sharp-tailed sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus), has been observed here. Peregrine falcons have successfully nested here as recently as 1998.

The beach strand here supports one of the largest and most viable populations of the federally threatened Northeastern beach tiger beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis). The adults are active along the intertidal zone (the area between high and low tide) during the day and rest under the sand along the back beach at night. The larvae inhabit vertical burrows within the intertidal zone, capturing food items washed ashore by waves.

The marsh has been designated an Audubon Important Bird Area as part of the Delmarva Bayside Marshes IBA, which extends from Saxis WMA to just north of the Northampton County line.

This preserve has no public access facilities. Access is by boat only, no docking or other public facilities are available. Please call before visiting.

759 acres
Dot Field, Eastern Shore Region Steward
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Natural Heritage
Melfa, VA