Saturday, May 13, 2017: BACK BAY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, 8:00 A.M. Meet in the parking lot of the Visitors Center
Established in 1938 with 4,589 acres, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge now encompasses 9,250 acres which protects the watershed and habitat for wildlife. It is equally important that the land acquisitions buffer development and is reducing erosion and runoff of fertilizer and other chemicals. This protection has resulted in better water quality which resulted in an increase of the number of ducks and geese using the refuge.
The refuge staff and volunteers support numerous programs to include year-around bird surveys, Loggerhead Sea Turtle nest protection, wetlands management, environmental education, and more. For additional information about Back Bay NWR see https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Back_Bay
Our field trip will begin at the Visitors Center. There are several trails – the Charles Kuralt Trail, the Bay Trail and a trail over the dunes to the beach - that will take us through scenic areas of the refuge in search of birds and other wildlife. The Refuge is host to a number of breeding species to include Yellow-breasted Chat, Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Marsh Wren, Least Bitterns and others. We should also see a variety of shore and marsh birds in the impoundments (i.e. King Rails) and on the beach (possible Red Knots). The graceful Brown Pelican flying by; the excitement of spotting a dolphin; the Cottonmouth sunning himself are all part of the Back Bay experience.
To reach Back Bay NWR in southern Virginia Beach, follow Sandbridge Road to the oceanfront and turn right (south) onto Sandpiper Road. Follow it, about 4 miles, all the way to its end, just past Little Island Park. Turn left, enter the Refuge gate, and follow the paved road 1 mile to the Visitors Center. There is no entrance fee to the refuge if you arrive before 8:00 a.m. If you are late, a Duck Stamp or Senior Pass will cover the fee. There is an honor system if no attendant is at the gate.
Field Trip Inclement Weather Policy
Since the Cape Henry Audubon Society outings have no scheduled rain dates, we try to conduct all of our field trips…rain or shine. For most weather conditions, this has worked well and will continue to be our goal. However, if on the night before a field trip, severe weather i.e. torrential rain, heavy snow, dangerous wind, flooding, etc. is forecast, and you have doubts about the trip being held, call 484-7398. If the field trip chair doesn’t answer, a recorded announcement will inform you of any changes or cancellations.