SAVE THE DATE FOR NEXT YEAR!
January 29 - 31, 2016 | Princess Anne Recreation Center
presented with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
This is your chance to witness winter wildlife all around Virginia Beach; whether it’s following fascinating bird activity, exploring the natural areas of our community or the musings of harbor seals near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Learn what it takes to properly observe and identify wildlife in their natural settings. View photos from the 2015 event on Flickr
What was seen at the 2015 festival? View the bird species list
2015 Registration Information
Registration for the 2015 festival has now ended. Registered participants can view a schedule of activities here. Reservations for the Festival Keynote can still be made by contacting the Outdoor Programs office (757-385-4461, firstname.lastname@example.org). Stop by the Exhibit Hall or any of the walk-up workshops on Saturday, February 7 — free and open to the public.
Past participant or recreation center member:
Registration is available online through EZreg with your
client barcode and family PIN. If you do not have this information, you can visit any recreation center
or contact the Outdoor Programs office at 757-385-4461 or email@example.com
prior to the registration start date. Registration is also available in person at any recreation center or by mailing in a registration form.
For those wishing to register for the first time, registration is available in person at any recreation center
or by mailing in a registration form.
2015 Schedule of Events
Festival Keynote, Featuring Kevin Karlson
Friday, February 6 | 7:00 pm | Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library
All ages | Kevin is an accomplished birder, professional tour leader and wildlife photographer who has published numerous articles on bird identification and natural history for an assortment of magazines, journals, calendars and CD/DVDs. Join us for his inspirational presentation of his new book, Visions: Earth’s Elements in Bird and Nature Photography. | Free; contact the Outdoor Programs office (757-385-4461, firstname.lastname@example.org) to make reservations
Brought to you by Back Bay Restoration Foundation and Lynnhaven River NOW. View Kevin's work and full bio at kevinkarlsonphotography.com.
You can also join Kevin for several workshops and excursions:
- Advanced Flight & Action Photography Workshop
- Birding by Impression Workshop
- Birding by Impression at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
Saturday, February 7 | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm | Free & Open to the Public
| Be sure to stop by the Exhibit Hall at Great Neck Recreation Center
and speak with our Winter Wildlife Festival partners and exhibitors, including Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Back Bay Restoration Foundation, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Lynnhaven River NOW, Virginia Aquarium, Virginia Beach Audubon Society and Virginia State Parks. You’ll learn ways to get involved with local efforts and find out what environmental groups and businesses are up to. Other activities include:
- Children's Activities by the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast
- Decoy Carvers from the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum
- Oyster Castle Tours by Project Green Teens ( 11 am, 1 pm, 2:30 pm)
- Live Animals
- Raffle Prizes
- Delicious eats from the Wrap-N-Roll Food Truck
Interested in being an exhibitor?
Download an application
. Please submit your application no later than December 31, 2014 to be considered for inclusion in the Exhibit Hall.
NEW! Black Bears 101
Age 10 & up | Join Pete Acker, VDGIF wildlife biologist, as he discusses black bears and their history in Virginia. Learn what they do, what they think, and what they eat. Understand more about why they come into developed areas like Virginia Beach, how to keep them out of your yard, and what to do if you face a close-up encounter! | FREE
Saturday, February 7 | 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
NEW! Fisheries in Back Bay - An Overview
Age 10 & up | Back Bay is an extremely unique ecosystem; its fisheries population structure is also very unique and composition varies seasonally. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists have been sampling the fisheries community populations of Back Bay for decades, and will discuss the active life below the water in this local treasure. | FREE
Saturday, February 7 | 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
NEW! Harbor Seals in Virginia Beach
Age 10 & up | Come meet a Marine Mammal Trainer from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and learn about Atlantic Harbor Seals. The mammal staff will share information about how they care for theses playful critters, and the natural history of harbor seals and the other pinnipeds that can be found right off the coast of Virginia Beach. | FREE
Saturday, February 7 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Excursions & Pre-Register Workshops
We require you to travel with us for these excursions. Transportation provided by Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries.
NEW! Advanced Flight & Action Photography Workshop
Age 16 & up | Join Kevin Karlson as he shares advanced techniques for photographing wildlife in action, and reasons for selecting one option over others. Learn how to capture a dynamic wildlife image with the most efficient field techniques and camera settings for a variety of situations. This workshop is somewhat technical in nature, with beginners required to know their camera’s settings and basic operation. Meets at MEO Central Library. | $30
Sunday, February 8 | 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
NEW! Birding by Impression Workshop with Kevin Karlson
Age 12 & up
| Start off your festival weekend right with this interactive indoor workshop about a new slant to field identification based on Kevin’s forthcoming book with Dale Rosselet, Birding by Impression, A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds. Tips on evaluating important physical features for different bird families, and a review of difficult ID dilemmas for similar species are also highlighted in this seminar. All experience levels welcome. Meets at MEO Central Library.
Thursday, February 5 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
NEW! Birding by Impression at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
Age 12 & up
| Join Kevin Karlson for a field session on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel utilizing the basic principles of his ‘birding by impression’ approach. The CBBT islands can offer unusual or locally rare sightings, as well as plenty of our winter regulars – like northern gannets, king eider and longtailed ducks. This is a great opportunity to learn how to apply his techniques in the field to become a more effective birder. Additional registration form
required by Jan 23. All experience levels welcome. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location.
Saturday, February 7 | 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm FULL
Back Bay/False Cape Terra Gator & Tram Tour
| Take a scenic tram ride through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park to the site of the historic Wash Woods community in what is now False Cape State Park. Hike the one mile, round-trip trail to the historical site, where a church steeple and cemetery remain. Ride back along the remote beach observing shorebirds and perhaps whales while riding in our unique beach transporter, the Terra-Gator. All experience levels welcome. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location.
Sunday, February 8 | 8:00 am - 12:30 pm FULL
Beginning Birding by the Virginia Aquarium
Age 10 & up
| Learn the basics of bird identification in the aviary at the Virginia Aquarium. Let your instructor share tips and tricks in becoming a better wildlife viewer as you have the opportunity to see 55 species of birds native to Virginia. All experience levels welcome. Meet at Virginia Aquarium’s Marsh Pavilion
Saturday, February 7 | 9:30 am - 11:00 am
Sunday, February 8 | 9:30 am - 11:00 am
NEW! Cape Henry Tour
Age 5 & up
| This trip highlights two destinations in the historic Cape Henry area of Virginia Beach; First Landing State Park and the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse located on Fort Story. These locations offer views of the Chesapeake Bay where shorebirds, wintering seabirds, and waterfowl can be plentiful. In addition to wildlife viewing this trip will include historical information on the first landing of the Virginia Company and the old Cape Henry Lighthouse. Participants 16 & older are required to bring a government-issued picture ID for access to Fort Story. All experience levels welcome. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location. | $10
Saturday, February 7 | 8:30 am - 11:30 am
NEW! Chesapeake Bay Boat Trip
Age 16 & up
| View the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands "up close and personal!" The Winter Wildlife Festival is offering its first boat trip for eye-level views of birds, harbor seals and other wildlife on and around the CBBT islands. This is an excellent opportunity to view sea ducks, shorebirds and seabirds. All experience levels welcome. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location.
Saturday, February 7 | 7:30 am - 11:30 am
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel & Fisherman's Island
Age 18 & up
| Spend the morning on the man-made islands of the CBBT looking for wintering water birds and seals. After a stop for lunch at Stingray’s – an Eastern Shore local’s favorite (lunch is not included in price) – we’ll head to Fisherman’s Island National Wildlife Refuge. This Virginia barrier island is classified as “a wetland of
international importance” and, due to the critical nature of its habitats for wildlife, it is only accessible during guided tours. Additional registration form
required by Jan 23. Recommended for experienced birders. Meet at Bayville Farms Park for transportation to locations. | $40; lunch is on your own
Friday, February 6 | 8:00 am - 5:00 pm FULL
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Trip
Age 12 & up | The man-made islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel that support the bridge provide rest stops for migrating and wintering birds. The islands can offer unusual or locally rare sightings. Northern gannet, brant, king eider, harlequin duck, little gull, great cormorant, purple sandpiper and rarities such as black-tailed gull make this one of the best winter birding sites in Virginia. The presence of the occasional harbor seals and wintering whales adds to the appeal of this unique site. Additional registration form required by January 23. All experience levels welcome. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location. | $15
Sunday, February 8 | 8:00 am - 12:00 pm FULL
Intermediate Nature Photography
Age 16 & up
| G. Michael Brown will discuss macro-photography and telephoto lens techniques in a lecture format. Lens selection, from 10 mm to 500 mm, will be a topic. The use of filters in nature photography, multiple exposures, and abstracts in nature images will be included among the topics. Recommended for experienced photographers. This classroom session meets at Great Neck Recreation Center.
Saturday, February 7 | 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Intro to Nature Photography
Age 16 & up | Award winning photographer, G. Michael Brown will inspire you with his superb nature images. Learn the basics of your digital camera and how to apply them in capturing the extraordinary natural subjects that inhabit our area. Basic concepts of image composition and proper lighting will be highlighted using bird, flower, and landscape digital images. All experience levels welcome. This classroom session meets at Great Neck Recreation Center. | $5
Saturday, February 7 | 10:30 am - 11:30 am
NEW! Mackay Island and Back Bay/False Cape Birding Day Trip
Age 12 & up | This year, two of our most popular trips are combined into one amazing day-long experience! In the morning, travel to North Carolina’s Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge to explore the freshwater and brackish marshes and lowland pine forests in search of the abundant winter wildlife. After a stop at Margie and Ray’s for lunch (lunch is not included in price), you’ll continue to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. After a scenic ride through Back Bay NWR on the “Blue Goose Express” observing wintering snow geese, swans and other wildlife, you’ll journey to the heart of False Cape State Park for a chance to further observe and photograph the abundant wintering waterfowl. Due to refuge policy, no stops will be made while traveling through Back Bay NWR. Recommended for experienced birders. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to locations. | $40; lunch is on your own
Saturday, February 7 | 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Mackay Island Birding
Age 12 & up | Located in North Carolina, just one mile past the Virginia border, this National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of habitats including freshwater and brackish marshes to upland and lowland eastern pine hardwood forests. Its location on the edge of Back Bay and the Currituck Sound, make this peninsula a fascinating place to view winter wildlife including large numbers of snow geese. Refuge volunteers will provide a guided tour of the main refuge. Recommended for experienced birders. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location. |$10
Sunday, February 8 | 8:00 am - 12:30 pm FULL
North Landing River Birding
Age 12 & up | Bird Virginia's largest natural area preserve! This unique wetland community, along with the forested swamps and freshwater tidal marshes of the lower North Landing River, supports more rare plants, animals and natural communities than any place east of the Blue Ridge in Virginia. The area also provides important habitat for breeding and wintering waterfowl. Recommended for experienced birders. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location. | $10
Saturday, February 7 | 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Age 10 & up | Explore the night time woods of First Landing State Park or West Neck Natural Area looking and listening for their nocturnal hunters.
Great horned, barred and screech owls and other creatures of the night are all possibilities for these trips. All experience levels welcome. Meet at location. | $5
First Landing State Park | Saturday, February 7 | 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm FULL
West Neck Natural Area | Saturday, February 7 | 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm FULL
Pleasure House Point Birding & More
Age 12 & up | This 118-acre site at Lynnhaven Inlet encompasses Maritime forest, beaches, marshes and mudflats. These varied habitats support a wide array of birds and wildlife like songbirds, raptors, shorebirds and is home to many breeding diamondback terrapins. At one time this site was targeted for intense development, but a partnership between the City of Virginia Beach, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and The Trust for Public Land made the reservation of this space possible. In addition to birding, educators from Lynnhaven River NOW will also be on hand to discuss the importance of wetland plants and oyster reefs in this sensitive habitat. Recommended for experienced birders. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location. | $10
Saturday, February 7 | 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
NEW! Rain Barrel Workshop
All Ages | Where does all the rain go, and why does it matter to our water quality? Come learn about the importance of stormwater and take home an attractive “ready to go” rain barrel. Rain collection systems expert will be on hand for any installation questions. Hosted by LRNOW and Mike’s Rain Barrels. Price is per barrel; no per person charge to attend. All experience levels welcome. Meets at Great Neck Recreation Center. | $75 (per barrel, not per person)
Saturday, February 7 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Twilight Aviary Tour
Age 10 & up | Where's the best place to sleep if you are a duck? What do Night Herons actually do at night? Where do Turkey Vultures roost? Come find the answers to these questions and many more at the Twilight Tour of Owls Creek Salt Marsh Aviary at the Virginia Aquarium. All experience levels welcome. Meet at Virginia Aquarium Marsh Pavilion | $5
Saturday, February 7 | 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Urban Birding Tour
Age 12 & up
| You don’t have to go to a wildlife refuge or state park to see birds in Virginia Beach. There are many “birdie” places that are right in the heart of the city where you are able to see a surprising variety of birds. This trip will take you to a few of those places; some of them so easy to bird, we may not have to leave the bus! All experience levels welcome. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to locations.
Saturday, February 7 | 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Virginia Aquarium Whale & Wildlife Boat Trip
| Join the Virginia Aquarium, the longest running and most experienced whale watching entity in Virginia, in an immersive encounter with some of the ocean’s most magnificent creatures. The educators onboard will share an amazing program built upon the Aquarium’s own scientific research and 25 years of experience connecting guests with the area’s marine mammal visitors. Tours take place on a large, comfortable boat that boasts spectacular views from the multi-level outdoor decks, or from cushioned seats inside a heated cabin and a snack bar. This 2.5 hour adventure is an exploration in search of whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds. Whale sightings are not guaranteed. All experience levels welcome. *New meeting location - Leaves from Dockside Marina, 3311 Shore Drive (east of Lesner Bridge). | $22 Adults (12 & up), $17 Youth (3-11), Free for children under 3
Saturday, February 7 | 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm FULL
Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area/Whitehurst Tract Birding
Age 12 & up
| The Whitehurst Tract is a patchwork of marshes, weedy and cultivated fields, narrow freshwater impoundments and pine woodland. This area is known for plentiful winter waterfowl, including impressive numbers of snow geese. Raptors and wintering songbirds can also be found in the varied habitats here. Recommended for experienced birders. Meet at Great Neck Recreation Center for transportation to location.
Sunday, February 8 | 8:00 am - 11:30 am
Teacher Workshop: Project WET™
Tuesday, February 3 & Wednesday, February 4 | 6:00 - 9:00 pm each night
Great Neck Recreation Center
FOR TEACHERS & INFORMAL EDUCATORS ONLY
Obtain the knowledge and curriculum materials needed to teach your students about water resources during this 2-session workshop, where you’ll have the opportunity to network and share implementation ideas. Project WET is a nationally developed, supplementary water education curriculum that facilitates and promotes awareness, appreciation, knowledge, and stewardship of water resources through classroom-ready teaching aids. Designed to teach students how to think, rather than what to think, the curriculum addresses atmospheric water, surface water, ground water, cultural and historical uses of water, and contemporary water management issues such as nonpoint source pollution. Special emphasis is given to understanding the needs for water by all water users and shows that wise water management is essential to the future social and economic prosperity of our country. | $10; download the registration form. Please register by January 27.
Attendance to both sessions is required for curriculum guide/materials and professional development credit. Preapproval of credit may be required by a teacher’s administration.