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Cape Charles Beach and Harbor

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWT: Be Safe While OutdoorsDWR encourages you to be safe while outdoors. Before heading out, first check with individual sites on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail to find out whether they are still open to the public. Information regarding closures is typically posted on a site's own website. Be advised that some sites, even if still open, may have certain public facilities closed during this time. If a site is still open, maintain CDC social distancing guidelines while enjoying the outdoors.

Description

Several birdwatching opportunities are available in the Town of Cape Charles, with the beach and harbor being the highlights. Visit all the birding spots by following the recommended driving route below.

Recommended Driving Route for Birding the Town of Cape Charles:

Marina Villages – From US 13, turn west onto SR 184 toward the town of Cape Charles. After 1.9 miles, turn right onto Fig St. Continue north on Fig St. for five blocks where you will come to the entrance of Marina Villages. There is marsh area to the right as you drive into the Villages, and access to the boat dock overlooking Kings Creek. Clapper rails and shorebirds can be found in season. During winter storms, many species of waterfowl take refuge here.

Washington Ave. Lake – After leaving Marina Villages, turn right onto Washington Ave. to observe the lake on your right. Migrant waterfowl and gulls can often be seen here.

Cape Charles Beach – Continue on Washington Ave to Bay Ave. Turn left onto Bay Ave and park along the shore of Chesapeake Bay. To your right are pilings, the remains of an old seaside restaurant, now used by many roosting gulls and terns in the evening. A short walk up the boardwalk, wooden overlooks offer a vista scanning the flats at low tide for shorebirds, gulls, and terns. About 18 species of shorebirds have been recorded here, including American oystercatcher. On higher tides, look for bay and sea duck species in the cooler months. The occasional bottlenose dolphin may also be spotted.

Cape Charles Harbor – Bay Ave ends in 0.1 miles at Mason Ave, where a fishing jetty and pier at the harbor’s mouth offers a great walk for viewing oldsquaw and purple sandpiper among other species. Gulls, including the very occasional lesser black-backed, roost here through the day, being most numerous in morning and late afternoon. In mid-March, migrating brant appear on the flats. Watch the swallows here; in addition to a few pairs of northern rough-winged swallows nesting around the harbor, there are many tree and barn swallows, and purple martins also nesting nearby.

From Bay Ave, turn left onto Mason Ave, and at 0.6 miles, bear right onto Rte 642/ Old Cape Charles Rd. After passing over the “hump” overpass, turn right onto Bayshore Rd/ Rte 108. In 0.2 miles, Rte 1108 becomes Marina Rd, which forks to the right. Turn right here and continue 0.4 miles to the Harbor, where gulls, loons, and diving ducks often abound, including sometimes oldsquaw in small numbers.

Directions

Physical Address for Cape Charles Beach: Bay Ave, Cape Charles, VA 23310

Physical Address for Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center: 814 Randolph Ave, Cape Charles, Virginia 23310

To the Start of the Full Driving Route through the Town:

From US 13 in Cape Charles, turn west onto SR 184/ Stone Rd and follow the recommended driving route described above.

 

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Town of Cape Charles: 757-331-3259
  • Website
  • Access: Daily, Free

10 Most Recent Bird Observations Added to eBird

  • Common Eider
  • Surf Scoter
  • Bufflehead
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Rock Pigeon
  • American Oystercatcher
  • Purple Sandpiper
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Great Black-backed Gull

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Visitor/Nature Center
  • Information
  • Lodging
  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Boat Ramp