Winter Wildlife Festival

presented by Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries​

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​January 25 - 27, 2019​​ | Princess Anne​​ Recreation Center

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​. Learn what it takes to properly observe and identify wildlife in their natural settings​​.

Registration Information

All Ages  In order to participate in excursions, you must first register for the Winter Wildlife Festival main registration​. Once registered, you can sign up for the sessions listed. (Additional costs apply.) Recreation Center Membership card not required.​ Register online​, by mail with the registration form, or in person at a recreation center.


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Friday Schedule: Excursions, Workshops & Keynote

NEW! Birding Tour of the Southern Eastern Shore

18 & up The southern tip of the Eastern Shore offers many exciting opportunities to view a variety of wintering coastal species including waterfowl, sea birds, and shore birds. Visit the 4th Island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Magothy Bay and Pickett's Harbor Natural Area Preserves and Kiptopeke State Park. Additional registration form​ required by January 11. Recommended for experienced birders. Lunch is not included in price. This day trip will require walking a total of approximately 3 miles; please wear boots as some areas may be muddy.

Friday, January 25  8 am - 3 pm​ | Bayville Farms Park (4132 First Court Road)
$45, lunch is on your own

Birding Basics Workshop & Field Session

10 & up Are you just starting to get into birds? Do you enjoy watching them in your backyard and wish you knew what they were? Then this class is for you! This workshop will introduce you to the pastime of birding and will cover all of the basics: how to identify birds, tips for finding birds, and the materials and equipment you need to get started. There will be an indoor presentation, followed by an outdoor nature walk to practice your new birding skills! A limited supply of binoculars will be available for loan during the class, but if you have your own, it is recommended to bring them. Recommended for new birders.

Friday, January 25  9 am - 12 pm | Brock Environmental Center (3663 Marlin Bay Dr.)
$5 - Adults, Free - Ages 10 - 17


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NEW! Virginia Coastal Birds Workshop

16 & up  Join national award-winning nature photographer, Bob Schamerhorn, as he discusses a wide variety of species typical to the coast through beautiful photography and entertaining stories. Learn information about shorebirds, their habitats, migration patterns and challenges. This program covers the gamut of our coastal birds and is perfect for new birders or those new to coastal birding.Marzluff.jpg

Friday, January 25  2 - 3 pm | Brock Environmental Center (3663 Marlin Bay Dr.)
Free

Festival Keynote: "Welcome to Subirdia" with John Marzluff 

12 & up  John Marzluff is a James W. Ridgeway Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington where his research is focused on the intriguing social behavior of ravens, crows and jays and the effects of urbanization on songbirds. In Welcome to Subirdia, Marzluff gives us something to celebrate as he reveals that suburbs are often remarkably rich in bird diversity while showing that the effect our interactions have is increasingly relevant to their futures, and ours, on both local and global scales. Book sale and signing to follow.

Friday, January 25  7 - 8:30 pm | Old Donation School (4633 Honeygrove Rd.)
Free; Registration Required


Saturday Schedule: Excursions & Workshops

Chesapeake Bay Birding Boat Trip

16 & up View the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands up close and personal! This boat trip offers 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. Meets at Dockside Marina. Recommended for experienced birders.

Saturday, January 26  8 - 11:30 am | Dockside Marina (3311 Shore Drive)
$40

NEW! North Landing River Boat Tour

10 & up Join Moore to See Expeditions for an in-depth eco-tour of the marshlands that surround the North Landing River. These areas provide a critical habitat for many species of wintering waterfowl including snow geese, tundra swans and a variety of ducks. This trip will provide many unique opportunities for taking nature photos. All experience levels welcome. Boat is open air; please come dressed for weather.

Saturday, January 26  8 - 10 am, 11 am - 1 pm, 2 - 4 pm | Pungo Ferry Boat Launch (2272 Old Pungo Ferry Road)
$35


Waterfowl Walk​

10 & up ​ Thousands of waterfowl visit the Back Bay every year to rest and feed during the winter migration. This one-mile walk will be led by local expert birders and focus on identification of the various ducks found at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Binoculars and cameras are highly recommended. A spotting scope will be available but participants may bring their own if desired. Recommended for experienced birders.​

Saturday, January 26  8 - 10 am | Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (4005 Sandpiper Rd.)
$5

Fisherman's Island: A Wildlife, Nature and History Walk

10 & upFisherman's Island has been a marine hospital (1890), an artillery site (1942), part of Back Bay (1973) and the Eastern Shore of Virginia (1984). Additionally, it is critical habitat for royal terns and brown pelicans. Join us as we walk along sandy trails through maritime forest, swales, secondary dunes, and beach areas. Migratory birds and a variety of flora and fauna are also part of this walk. Don't miss out on the spectacular views this location offers of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel! All experience levels welcome.

Saturday, January 26  8 am - 12:30 pm | Bayville Farms Park (4132 First Court Rd.)
$15


NEW! Edge of the Bay

5 & up ​ Visit First Landing State Park and explore the shore at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Then move inside to the new Bay Lab and investigate the many influences the bay has on us and we have on it. 

​Saturday, January 26  8:30 - 11:30 am | First Landing State Park (2500 Shore Drive – meet at the large Chesapeake Bay Center sign in front of the main office)
$10

Pleasure House Point Birding

16 & up This 188 acre site at Lynnhaven Inlet encompasses Maritime forest, beaches, marshes and mudflats and was recently added to the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail. 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 preservation of this space possible. Recommended for experienced birders.

Saturday, January 26  8:30 - 11 am | Pleasure House Point Natural Area (3957 Marlin Bay Dr, please park along roadway)
$5

Intro to Nature Photography

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.

Saturday, January 26  10:30 - 11:30 am | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
$5

Back Bay/False Cape Terra-gator and Tram Tour

All Ages 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 1-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.​

Saturday, January 26  12:30 - 5 pm | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
$15


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Urban Birding Tour

12 & up Did you know that there are many "birdie" places right in the heart of the city? This trip will take you to some of Virginia Beach's prime urban bird spots where a surprising variety of birds can be seen. Some of the sites are so easy to bird, we may not have to leave the bus! This trip focuses on acquainting you with various places to go birding in Virginia Beach. Recommended for new or casual birders, but all experience levels welcome. **A limited supply of binoculars will be available for loan during the class, but please bring your own if you have them.**

Saturday, January 26  1:30 - 5 pm | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
$15

Macro Photography

16 & up G. Michael Brown will discuss macro-photography and telephoto lens techniques in a lecture format.  Lens selection, from 10mm 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.

​Saturday, January 26  1 - 2 pm | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
$5

Whales & Wildlife Sea Adventure

All agesJoin the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, the longest running and most experienced whale watching entity in Virginia, in an immersive encounter with some of the ocean's most magnificent creatures. Specialized educators will share a program built upon the Aquarium's scientific research and almost three decades of experience connecting guests with the area's marine mammal visitors. Trips take place on a spacious and stable catamaran that boasts one of the most comfortable rides in Virginia Beach, and has been outfitted especially for conducting dolphin & whale watching trips.  Experience spectacular views from the outdoor covered seating areas, or from cushioned seats inside a heated cabin. This ~2.5 hour adventure is an exploration in search of whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds. Marine mammal sightings are not guaranteed. All experience levels welcome.

Saturday, January 26  2 pm - 4:30 pm | Virginia Aquarium Dock (717 General Booth Blvd.)
$25 - Ages 12 & up; $20 - Ages 3 - 11; Free - Under 3

First Landing Nature Walk

5 & up Experience firsthand the amazing habitats that exist within First Landing State Park. Discover what makes the park's environment so unique that it has been made a national natural area. The 2 mile hike will take participants across swamp overlooks and through maritime forest in search of wildlife and natural phenomena found within the park. All experience levels welcome.

Saturday, January 26  2 - 4 pm | First Landing State Park (2500 Shore Drive – Trail Center)
$5​​

Owl Prowl

10 & up ​ Explore the night time woods looking and listening for their nocturnal hunters. Barred and screech owls as well as other creatures of the night are all possibilities for these trips. All experience levels welcome.

Saturday, January 26  7 - 8:30 pm | West Neck Natural Area (2249 North Landing Road)
Saturday, January 26  7 - 8:30 pm | Great Neck Park (2513 Shorehaven Drive)
Saturday, January 26  7 - 9 pm | ​ ​NEW! ​​False Cape State Park (Meets at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 4005 Sandpiper Rd.)
$10​

Owls and S'mores Campfire Program

5 & up Join park rangers around the campfire to enjoy this traditional nighttime outdoor activity complete with S'mores! Listen and look for nocturnal animals of First Landing State Park, especially the park's owl inhabitants.

Saturday, January 26  7 - 8:30 pm | First Landing State Park (2500 Shore Drive) meet at the large Chesapeake Bay Center sign in front of the main office
$10

Sunday Schedule: Excursions

Chesapeake Bay Boat Trip

16 & up  View the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands up close and personal! This boat trip offers 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. Recommended for experienced birders.

Sunday, January 27  8 - 11:30 am | Dockside Marina (3311 Shore Drive)
$40

NEW! North Landing River Boat Tour

10 & up  Join Moore to See Expeditions for an in-depth eco-tour of the marshlands that surround the North Landing River. These areas provides critical habitat for many species of wintering waterfowl including snow geese, tundra swans and variety of ducks. This trip will provide many unique opportunities for taking nature photos. All experience levels welcome. Boat is open air; please come dressed for weather.

Sunday, January 27  8 - 10 am, 11 am - 1 pm | Pungo Ferry Boat Launch (2272 Old Pungo Ferry Road)
$35


Mackay Island Birding

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 makes 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.​

Sunday, January 27  8 am - 12:30 pm | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
$15​


Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area Birding

12 & up This trip will visit the Beasley and Whitehurst Tracts of Princess Anne WMA.  The WMA is a patchwork of marshes, weedy fields, narrow freshwater impoundments and pine woodland. This area is known for plentiful winter waterfowl, including impressive numbers of snow geese. Raptors, wintering songbirds, and wading birds can also be found in the varied habitats here. Recommended for experienced birders. **Please note that some of the trails may be wet this time of year; comfortable waterproof shoes or rubber boots are required.**

Sunday, January 27  8 am - 12 pm | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
$15

Back Bay/False Cape Birding

12 & up Take a scenic ride through Back Bay NWR on the "Blue Goose Express" observing wintering snow geese, swans and other wildlife. Journey to the heart of False Cape State Park for a chance to further observe and photograph the abundant wintering waterfowl. Scopes and cameras are allowed and encouraged. Due to refuge policy, no stops will be made while traveling through Back Bay NWR. Recommended for experienced birders.

Sunday, January 27  8 am - 12:30 pm | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
$15

Whales & Wildlife Sea Adventure

All ages ​ Join the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, the longest running and most experienced whale watching entity in Virginia, in an immersive encounter with some of the ocean's most magnificent creatures. Specialized educators will share a program built upon the Aquarium's scientific research and almost three decades of experience connecting guests with the area's marine mammal visitors. Trips take place on a spacious and stable catamaran that boasts one of the most comfortable rides in Virginia Beach, and has been outfitted especially for conducting dolphin & whale watching trips.  Experience spectacular views from the outdoor covered seating areas, or from cushioned seats inside a heated cabin. This ~2.5 hour adventure is an exploration in search of whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds. Marine mammal sightings are not guaranteed. All experience levels welcome.

Sunday, January 27  10 am - 12:30 pm | Virginia Aquarium Dock (717 General Booth Blvd.)
$25 - Ages 12 & up; $20 - Ages 3 - 11; Free - Under 3


Walk-up Workshops: Princess Anne Recreation Center​

All workshops are free and last approximately one hour. Pre-registration is preferred. ​

Hometown Habitat: How Native Plants Support Bird Diversity

10 & up Insects are a critical part of the food web that birds and other wildlife depend on for survival. In this session we'll watch an excerpt of Catherine Zimmerman's Hometown Habitat film, which beautifully illustrates how our landscape choices directly impact insect and bird diversity.  The film features Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of the book Bringing Nature Home, who explains the incredible value of native plants to insects and how you can make a difference in your own yard and community.  Following the film there will be a Q&A led by Carol A. Heiser, Habitat Education Coordinator of the DGIF.

Saturday, January 26  10:30 - 11:30 am

Concepts and Misconceptions: Wildlife Myths and Old Wives' Tales 

10 & up  Learn the truth about local wildlife rumors, myths, and stories; what to do and what to avoid. DGIF Biologist Pete Aker will discuss alligators, bears, mountain lions, wolves, and more!

Saturday, January 26  12 - 1 pm

Back Bay Bass

10 & up Learn the history of Back Bay's largemouth fishery from folks who work and fish on the bay. The highlight of the workshop will be a showing of the award-winning short documentary Back Bay. This film tells the history of this area's Bass Fishery through commentary from several lifelong local fisherman and experts. The film will be followed by a Q&A session with film maker, Cory Routh, and DGIF Fisheries Biologist, Chad Boyce. 

Saturday, January 26  2 - 3 pm

Sea Watch Station

All ages ​ Stop by to see what birds are flying over the waves, feeding, or resting on the water. You are likely to see Surf & Black Scoters, Buffleheads, Northern Gannets, Double-crested Cormorants, and an assortment of gulls (Ring-billed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed, & Great Black-backed). Red-throated & Common Loons, Red-breasted Mergansers, Laughing Gulls, and Forster's Terns are also possible. And if you are really lucky, you might see a Common Eider, White-winged Scoter, Horned Grebe, or Bonaparte's Gull. Bring binoculars if you have them. If not, we'll have birding scopes set up. Dress warmly!

Saturday, January 26  1:30 - 3:30 pm | Boardwalk at Rudee Inlet
No registration required
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