Photos courtesy Roberta Kellam.

Experience World-Class Waterfront Birding

Beginning birder or a seasoned spotter with a long lifetime list? Enjoy a good glass of wine, fresh seafood, and a great seaside view? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should know about “Birding on the Deck.” 

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and is an important and dynamic bird migration route impacting the entire Western Hemisphere. More than 425 species of birds have been cataloged on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and any of these could be spotted during migration. Plus, there is the off chance to spot a “vagrant,” a bird never before or seldom seen on the Eastern Shore. 

Every Tuesday until May 23 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Birding Eastern Shore hosts birders from across the Chesapeake region on the deck of the Island House Restaurant in Wachapreague, Virginia. 

The Island House’s back deck is a world-class birding location. It looks east across a broad expanse of creeks, mudflats and marshes with the barrier islands and the open Atlantic beyond. The 110,000 acres of the adjacent landscape have been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve —a living laboratory for sustainability, management of biodiversity, and harmony between social and ecological systems. This is an ideal setting to see shorebirds, herons, egrets, oystercatchers, seabirds, and the occasional hungry falcon or eagle. 

Roberta Kellam, president of Birding Eastern Shore, says, “We started Birding on the Deck to bring together experienced Eastern Shore birders, novice birders, local residents and visitors for a fun evening of viewing the exciting bird life going on right here in our community, from a vantage point that is unrivaled on the East Coast.” 

“Absolutely no experience is necessary to attend,” she adds. “We have experienced folks who will point out different birds and scopes we share with anyone interested in learning.”

A large part of Birding Eastern Shore’s mission is to provide current, accurate information about the most interesting birding sites on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and help visitors go “birding like a local.” 

“It can be difficult for visitors to identify the best places during each season to experience the rich variety of birds that live and pass through the ESVA,” Kellam says. “So Birding Eastern Shore created a website and hosts events to help bird enthusiasts tap into the local birding knowledge to make the most of their visit.”

Perhaps most impressive are the myriad suggestions for birding sites that aren’t as well-known. Kiptopeake State Park, the beach and harbor at Cape Charles, or the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are popular, but sites such as the Custis Tombs on Plantation Creek, Indiantown Park on the seaside, or Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve near Metompkin (to name a few), are just as rewarding. 

Every Tuesday until Memorial Day, Eastern Shore birders will share their experience and passion in a beautiful setting accompanied by local food and drink. Enjoying a drink while dining on seafood with top-notch bird watching in the company of other birders is a great way to learn about birding or increase your knowledge. Email [email protected] for more information.