Winter Wildlife Festival

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

​​​​January 26 - 28, 2018​ | 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. | View the 2017 bird species list  

​R​egistr​ation Information​​

Register Online

Our online registration system​​ allows you to use your email address to login or create an account. Open the registration page, then c​heck to see if you already have an account, by clicking 'Sign In' then "Forgot Your Password'. If you're new, you can click on 'Create an Account'​ to get started​​. Search Winter Wildlife Festival and sign up for the Main Registration first, then you'll be able to register for individual sessions.​​​


Register by Mail or In Person

Complete the registration form and submit with payment via mail to:  Special Events - Winter Wildlife Festival, 300 Edwin Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23462​. Or​ register ​in person at any Virginia Beach Recreation Center. 


Exhibit Hall​ & Children's Activities

Saturday,  January 27 | 10 am - 4 pm

Stop by Princess Anne Recreation Center for the 2018 Winter Wildlife Exhibit Hall to check out the vendors and environmental exhibitors, walk-up workshops, live animals and raffles! Children's activities will take place at the neighboring Princess Anne Library. Local food trucks will offer delicious eats from 11 am to 2 pm. Want to become an exhibitor? Download an exhibitor application​
​    
Children's Activities at Princess Anne Library 
Join Virginia Beach Public Libraries and festival partners for puppet shows, crafts, animal encounters and a birdwatching for kids workshop. | Free and open to the public; registration not required

Special thanks to our Festival Partners:​ ​Department of Game & Inland Fisheries | Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge | Lynnhaven River Now | Virginia Aquarium​ | Virginia Beach Audubon Society Club | Virginia Beach Public Library | ​Virginia State Parks​​​


Festival Excursions, Workshops & Keynote

FRIDAY, JANUARY 26

NEW  Chesapeake Bay and southern Eastern Shore

18 & up | Spend the day exploring the CBBT and the southern Eastern Shore looking for wintering water birds and seals. We’ll begin the day stopping at the man-made islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (not accessible to visitors except by escort) and then continue on 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.  After a lunch stop at Stingray’s will visit the main Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, including Wise Point, and then head to Kiptopeke State Park. Additional registration form required by Jan 12. Recommended for experienced birders. | $45, lunch is on your own
Meet at Bayville Farms Park, 4132 First Court Rd., for transportation to locations
Friday, January 26 | 8 am – 3 pm

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. | $5 for adults; free for youth ages 10-17
Meet at Brock Environmental Center, 3663 Marlin Bay Dr​ive
Friday, January 26 | 9 am – 11:30 am

NEW Atlantic Coastal Birds Workshop

12 & up | Join 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 from Maine to Florida and is perfect for new birders, those new to coastal birding, or as a refresher for experienced birders. | Free; no registration required
Meet at Brock Environmental Center, 3663 Marlin Bay Dr​ive
Friday,  January 26 | 2 pm - 3 pm​

FESTIVAL KEYNOTE

​Festival Keynote: “Birding Without Borders: An Epic World Big Year” with Noah Strycker

12 & up | In 2015, bird nerd Noah Strycker became the first human to see more than half of the planet’s bird species in a single, year-long, round-the-world birding trip. Anything could have happened, and a lot did.  This humorous and inspiring presentation about Strycker’s epic World Big Year will leave you with a new appreciation for the birds and birders of the world. Book signing and sales will be available. | Free; registration required
Meet at Old Donation Center, 4633 Honeygrove Rd.
Friday, January 26 | 7 pm – 8:30 pm


SATURDAY, JANUARY 27

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. | $40
Meet at Dockside Marina, 3311 Shore Drive
Saturday, January 27 | 8 am – 11:30 am

Cape Henry Tour

8 & 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. | $15
Meet at Princess Anne Recreation Center for transportation to locations
Saturday, January 27 | 8:30 am – 11:30 am

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 Birding Trails. 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. | $5
Meet at Pleasure House Point Natural Area, 3957 Marlin Bay Drive (please park along roadway)
Saturday, January 27 | 8:30 am – 11 am

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. | $5
Meet at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 4005 Sandpiper Rd
Saturday, January 27 | 8 am – 10 am

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. | $5
This classroom session meets at Princess Anne Recreation Center
Saturday, January 27 | 10:30 am – 11:30 am

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

10 & up | Fisherman’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 thru 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. | $15
Meet at Bayville Farms Park, 4132 First Court Rd., for transportation to locations
Saturday, January 27 | 8 am – 12 pm

NEW Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore of Virginia History

12 & up | First we’ll visit the man-made islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel looking for winter water birds and seals.  Then we’ll head to the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge to learn about regional history including a tour of the WWII bunkers. Additional​ registration form required by Jan 12​.  All experience levels welcome. | $15
Meet at Bayville Farms Park, 4132 First Court Rd., for transportation to location
Saturday, January 27 | 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm

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. | $15
Meet at Princess Anne Recreation Center for transportation to location
Saturday, January 27 | 12:30 pm – 5 pm

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. | $15
Meet at Princess Anne Recreation Center for transportation to locations
Saturday, January 27 | 1:30 pm – 5 pm

Macro Photography

16 & up | Professional photographer G. Michael Brown will explore the often unseen in the natural world through macro-photography.  Macro, or close –up photography opens up a whole new world for nature lovers and photographers.  Topics will include equipment selection, camera settings, and compositional thoughts. He’ll share tips and techniques of how to capture the patterns, textures, and drama of insects, plants, and other macro subjects.​ | $5
This classroom session meets at Princess Anne Recreation Center
Saturday, January 27 | 1 pm – 2 pm

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. | $23 for ages 12 & up; $18 for ages 3-11; free for children under age 3​
Meet at the Virginia Aquarium Dock, 717 General Booth Blvd.
Saturday, January 27 | 2 pm – 4:30 pm

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. | $5
Meet at the First Landing State Park Trail Center, 2500 Shore Drive
Saturday, January 27 | 2 pm – 4 pm

NEW​ Build a Bluebird Box​

All ages | Join staff from Eastern Shore of Virginia and Back Bay NWR for an interpreted bird box building. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about land bird habitats and the significance of suitable habitat for them. Participants will receive the supplies needed to build a blue bird box to build and take with them. This craft activity is suitable for all ages, however registration is limited to ensure that adequate supplies are available. | $5
Meet at Princess Anne Recreation Center
Saturday, January 27 | 3 pm – 4 pm

Owl Prowls

10 & up | Choose from two locations! Explore the night time woods of Great Neck Park or Stumpy Lake 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. | $10
Meet at Great Neck Park or Stumpy Lake Natural Area
Saturday, January 27 | 7 pm – 8:30 pm

Owls and S’mores

5 & up | Enjoy this traditional nighttime outdoor activity. Listen and look for nocturnal animals of First Landing State Park, especially the park’s owl inhabitants. Then join park rangers around the campfire for special activities and of course a S’more! | $10
Meet at First Landing State Park (2500 Shore Drive) at the large Chesapeake Bay Center sign in front of the main office building
Saturday, January 27 | 7 pm – 8:30 pm

Walk-Up Workshops

All workshops are free. Pre-registration is preferred.

Snakes of Virginia: Separating fact from fiction

10 & up | State Herpetologist J.D. Kleopfer from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will give a presentation on the Snakes of Virginia. This presentation will discuss the ecology and behavior of the most misunderstood group of animals in Virginia.
Saturday, January 27 | 10:30 am – 11:30 am | Princess Anne Recreation Center

Chesapeake Bay Sea Jellies

10 & up | Jordan Salyers, Jelly Aquarist at the Virginia Aquarium, will discuss the biology and natural history of sea jellies that are present in the Chesapeake Bay during the winter months. The care and propagation of these animals at the Aquarium will also be discussed.
Saturday, January 27 | 12 pm – 1 pm  | Princess Anne Recreation Center

Trees and Wildlife

10 & up | What do trees provide for wildlife in Virginia? A whole lot! Join Department of Forestry Forester, Molly O’Liddy, as she discusses how trees are essential to the wildlife of Virginia. Learn how our native trees support animal populations.
Saturday, January 27 | 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm  | Princess Anne Recreation Center

Sea Watch Station on the Boardwalk at Rudee Inlet

All ages | Stop by the boardwalk at Rudee Inlet 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!​ | Free; no registration required
Saturday, January 27 | 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm | Boardwalk at Rudee Inlet​

SUNDAY, JANUARY 28

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, 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. | $15
Meet at Princess Anne Recreation Center for transportation to location
Sunday, January 28 | 8 am – 12:30 pm

Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area Birding

12 & up | This trip will visit the Beasly Tract of Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area, 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.​ Likely bird sightings include raptors, wintering songbirds and wading birds. Comfortable waterproof shoes or rubber boots are recommended as trails may be wet. Recommended for experienced birders. | $15
Meet at Princess Anne Recreation Center for transportation to location
Sunday, January 28 | 8 am – 12 pm

Back Bay/False Cape Birding

12 & up | Take a scenic ride through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge 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. Recommended for experienced birders. Due to refuge policy, no stops will be made while traveling through Back Bay. | $15
Meet at Princess Anne Recreation Center for transportation to location
Sunday, January 28 | 8 am – 12:30 pm

NEW​ Introduction to Map and Compass

Age 10 & up | Join L.L. Bean experts for a map and compass course where you will be introduced to the techniques and tools necessary for navigating your way through the wilderness.  You will learn to read a map and to use and trust the handheld compass. Your instructor will also discuss declination (magnetic north vs. true north), and its importance in navigating with a map and compass. This is a very hands-on, skills-based course, so be prepared to participate in a good deal of field exercises! | $25
Meet at Stumpy Lake Natural Area, 4797 Indian River Rd.
Sunday, January 28 | 10 am – 12 pm

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. | $23 for ages 12 & up; $18 for ages 3-11; free for children under age 3​
Meet at the Virginia Aquarium Dock, 717 General Booth Blvd.
Sunday, January 28 | 10 am - 12:30 pm​

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Do you have an eye for photography? Enter our photo contest!

Show off your skills by capturing unique moments during the Winter Wildlife Festival and enter to win some great prizes. Contest is open to all registered participants. Submissions due by 5 pm on Thursday, January 26. One photo per category; submissions in multiple categories permitted. View full contest rules

Photo submissions for the photo contest has now ended. ​

​2017 Photo Categories

  1. Wildlife
    • Portrait – must show wildlife during a festival excursion; animal(s) must be still.  Excludes animal ambassadors in exhibit hall, children’s activities and walk-up workshops. Winning photograph receives a pair of ZEISS TERRA ED Pocket Binoculars (8x25)!
    • Action - must show wildlife during a festival excursion; animal(s) in motion, displaying a behavior, etc. Excludes animal ambassadors in exhibit hall, children’s activities and walk-up workshops. Winning photograph receives a pair of ZEISS TERRA ED Pocket Binoculars (8x25)!
  2. Festival in Action – any picture taken during any festival activity of any subject; includes: exhibit hall, walk-up workshops, keynote, excursions, other festival participants, education animals, children’s activities, etc.
    Winning photograph receives a L.L. Bean Backpack and 4-person kayak lesson courtesy of L.L. Bean!
  3. Youth - any subject, any festival location; must be under 16 to qualify. Winning photograph receives a 4-pack of tickets to the Virginia Aquarium and a festival partner prize pack!

People’s Choice – any subject, any festival location. Photographs entered in any of the above categories may also be entered in the People’s Choice category. Winner will be chosen by followers of Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation on Facebook.  Winner of this category receives a 4-pack of tickets to The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium!

Contact Information