When our daughter came to visit last month, she had only a few requests: she wanted to visit a winery and she wanted to go to the beach. Fortunately, in Williamsburg, Virginia, both requests can be met quickly because there are wineries all around us and the beach is just over an hour away. We set the GPS for Virginia beach and went on our way. After one of the best breakfasts I have had in a while (beachside no less!), more on that another day, we walked the boardwalk and visited some shops along the way. It was a windy day and we decided we wanted to see more than the typical tourist beach stuff so we drove further down the coast to the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.
The Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, is about 30 minutes from the main drag on the beach and it features multiple trails and activities. The trails lead to the bay and the beach. You can also launch boats, canoes and kayaks here as well as travel by bike. Since we were on foot, we took the Charles Kuralt trail. It was cool out but sunny and breezy and we wandered all over. The walk from the trail to the dunes was easily negotiated along the raised boardwalk. Until you hit the base of the last dune, you can see the footprints that lead up over it to the beach and it was impossible to do without getting sand in our shoes!
Along the way, I spied what almost looked like a champagne cork sitting on top of the sand. A closer inspection revealed that it was a mushroom. Imagine that-a mushroom growing on the sand, the mycelium was actively fruiting and we saw many of them around us.
At some point, I hope to get this identified but it will be tricky, we did not bring it with us because you cannot remove things like this from a refuge. The color of the gills was a rosy red, almost a purple tint to it. If anyone has a clue as to it’s identity, please, leave a comment.
We walked to the beach and found it nearly deserted. Swimming is not allowed here but fishing is and the only other people we saw had multiple lines in water.
It was a beautiful day with a deep blue sky, and the visibility was very good.
Walking along the trail we passed a marsh where migrating birds will stop to hunt. Can you see the Great Blue Heron near the center of the photo? We have seen many of these birds all around the country. Although this is part of a birding trail, this guy was the only bird we were able to spot!
The trails around the Visitors center are interpretive and they are also at water level. What this means is that at high tide, some areas are flooded. We couldn’t take the one trail because it was about 6″ underwater in one area and neither of us had on waterproof boots. The marsh that the path cut through was almost like a corn maze at times and we could not see anything but the plants on either side of the walkway. This wet area with its tree roots and grasses was eye-catching. It was nearly impossible to see where the water stopped and the plants started. The only clue was the rings on the surface of the water.
A shot from further away of the reflection pond.
When you visit a wildlife refuge, you hope to see the wildlife. Aside from a bunch of seagulls and a heron, we only say this snake. Actually, it is a cottonmouth and it is not a snake you want to mess with. Luckily for me, he wasn’t threatened by my presence and let me take his picture.
You can see how well he blends in, we walked past him the first time. A teacher leading a group of students on the trail pointed him out to us in warning and we were grateful.
Do yourself a favor, visit the refuge and take in the sights and see what wildlife inhabits the area . There are multiple activities from bird walks to whale watches available.
Winter waterfowl walks
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