Explore Virginia Beach’s Nature Areas

While Virginia Beach prides itself on having calm beaches, a lively boardwalk with restaurants and shops, we shouldn’t forget about the Seashore to Cypress Birding Trail! With 130,000 acres of natural land, this place draws in nature and wildlife lovers alike.

Father and son hiking on First Landing State Park.

Courtesy VA Beach Tourism

Among the cool nature spots within the Seashore to Cypress Birding Trail, First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park are prime areas for birding, hiking and biking. And what better companion than the Virginia Pocket Ranger® App to guide you along! With the app you can mark and record the coordinates of plant life, animal species, or landscape views with the photo waypoint feature. Make use of the advanced GPS Maps, which allows you to access trail data, record tracks from hikes, runs, or bike rides, and view elapsed time and distance traveled.

That’s not all! The Seashore to Cypress Birding Trail links other areas, including Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Start from the northern part of the trail at Chesapeake Bay where you’ll find thousands of sea ducks gathered around the rock islands. We hear winter is the best time to see them. Also be on the look out for scoters, long-tailed ducks, scaups, red-breasted mergansers, cormorants, and the rare harlequin ducks. And don’t be surprised if you see Northern Gannets driving for baitfish!

Image: www. wpmedia.o.canada.com/2014/09/gannet.jpg?w=660

Northern Gannets [Image: www. wpmedia.o.canada.com/2014/09/gannet.jpg?w=660]

First Landing State Park is definitely worth a visit. It’s both seashore and cypress, with ample birding, diverse habitats, from dunes to beaches. If you take the Cape Henry Trail, you’ll pass through the Cypress swamp and maritime forest, then the ancient dunes, and lastly the waters of Broad Bay.  Want to do birding on a bike? Cape Henry is also a bike trail, so hop on. There are birding opportunities all year round, including warblers in the maritime forest and ospreys in the salt marsh near Broad Bay. They typically arrive in March and stay until fall. Tanagers, thrushes and other songbirds appear during spring and fall migrations.

Already feeling overwhelmed with the number of birds? Use the Pocket Ranger® Bird Feed App to  keep track of bird sightings at Seashore to Cypress Birding Trail. Complete with advanced GPS mapping features, a photo/video sharing community, where you can post your findings, add notes, leave comments and tips, as well as view other users’ sightings on one map, record and share tracks of your favorite nature trails, and mark waypoints of locations.

Kayakers in Back Bay National Refuge.

Kayakers in Back Bay National Refuge. [Courtesy VA Beach Tourism ]

If you want to explore a remote public park in the state, False Cape State Park is the place! Head for the elevated platform to view waterfowl and songbirds in the myrtle thicket. Along the ocean coastal forest there’s a cemetery, church site, and remnants of a village from the early 1900s. This spot is also popular with waterfowl hunters. Picnic tables are also available here, so be sure to take a lunch break here.

Download our free Virginia Pocket Ranger® App, to explore more of Virginia Beach. And if you want to record your bird sightings try our new and free Pocket Ranger® Bird Feed App.

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