Back Bay NWR

Along the Atlantic Flyway, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, at the Southern end of Virginia Beach just behind the Atlantic coast beaches is one of the areas unique wilderness locations. Although there are sometimes only a thousand feet of sand separating the Atlantic Ocean from Back Bay, the two do not meet until Oregon Inlet, 65 miles south in North Carolina. Consequently Back Bay has very low salinity, and is not affected by moon tides. We can actually launch into a brackish water marsh looking very similar to a salt marsh and in less that an hour paddle into a freshwater Cypress Swamp. From Horn Point we launch into the open waters of North Bay but quickly enter the shelter of Asheville Creek. We paddle through an extensive Phragmites marsh and you can see how this aggressive invasive species has dominated the indigenous Black Needle Rush. As we weave our way up the Creek the salinity decreases and the Bald Cypress become more prolific as Cattail begin to appear. As the Cypress begin to dominate the marsh grasses give way to a fully covered Cypress Swamp with Maples, Pines and Water tupelo, Wax Myrtle and a variety of ferns. 

We have occasionally seen Deer swimming across the creek and River Otter playing.

In the Spring the Osprey return to their nests, the Prothonotary Warbler and other migratory song birds pass through, more Egrets and Herons come into the area. Blue-eyed Grass and Common Blue Violet will bloom. The Turkey Vultures are always there but the Belted Kingfisher may appear. Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk may pass through.


In the Summer the young Osprey are hatching and it is common to see adults with a fresh catch in their talons. The Snowy and Great Egret as well as Great Blue Herons are common. Red-winged Black Birds are prolific. There is a nesting pair of Bald Eagles near by. The Swamp Hibiscus, Cardinal Flower, Arrowhead, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Pickerelweed and VA Rose will all bloom.

In the Fall we begin to see the Prothonotary Warbler and other migratory song birds pass through again. The Double-crested Cormorant and various ducks will become more common. The Cypress needles will turn brown and fall. The marshes will turn light brown, the Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk will pass through following the song birds south. Some Canada and Snow geese as well as Tundra Swans will begin to arrive.


"Thanks for the great trip in the Back Bay last Wed. All 6 of us had a great time.  Keep up the good work."
        --The Gifford Group, Medina Ohio

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