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Edward S. Brinkley Nature Preserve


This county-owned nature preserve contains diverse coastal plain habitats and is located adjacent to an old, capped landfill with a renowned birding history. A flat, 1.4-mile mowed out-and-back trail travels east through an open scrub-shrub habitat, eventually leading to a mature woodland with a hard-packed dirt trail. An elevated boardwalk winds through the woodland, terminating at a seaside overlook platform with a view of Brockenberry Bay, a marsh, and mudflats at low tide. A short spur off the main trail, near the parking area, leads to a freshwater pond with a photography blind. (Both the boardwalk and the photography blind have ramp access.)

The scrub-shrub habitat and pine woodland along the main trail are good places to find songbirds year-round. Look for woodpeckers, common woodland denizens, sparrows, and in the fall, migratory warblers. During low tide, a variety of shorebirds may be seen from the seaside overlook, including willets, whimbrels, oystercatchers, and various peeps. (For the best view of these shorebirds, use a spotting scope.)

Much of the birding lore associated with this property relates to the freshwater pond, which supports a rookery of yellow-crowned and black-crowned night-herons and attracts a diversity of migratory birds in Spring and Fall. Look for wading birds, gulls, vultures, bald eagle, belted kingfisher, and in the fall, abundant migratory warblers around the pond’s edge. During the winter, a diversity of waterfowl may be seen. The pond is also renowned for attracting the occasional extraordinary vagrant species. A gray heron was photographed here in November of 2020, only the second record of this European species in the continental U.S., and a Lucy’s Warbler, a Southwestern U.S. species never previously recorded in Virginia, was found in January 2017. In addition to the birds, the Preserve’s diverse habitats also provide viewing opportunities of butterflies, dragonflies, and other wildlife.


  • Do not attempt to use the landfill entrance. The only access to the Preserve is from the parking area at the Preserve’s entrance gate.
  • The parking area is limited in capacity to three to five cars. Access to a parking area for larger groups, a school bus, or accessible parking near the boardwalk may be pre-arranged by contacting County Administration at 757-678-0440.
  • Most of the trail is open and without shade; plan accordingly.


Physical Address: 20199 Seaside Rd., Cape Charles VA 23310

From Route 13/ Lankford Highway, turn east onto Cobbs Station Rd/VA-636 and travel 1.6 miles. Turn right onto Seaside Rd/ VA-600. In 0.2 miles, the Preserve will be on the left. Park in the small parking area at the entrance gate.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Northampton County: 757-678-0440,
  • Website
  • Access: free, open sunrise - sunset, year-round

Birds Recently Seen at Edward S. Brinkley Nature Preserve (as reported to eBird)

  • Canada Goose
  • Mourning Dove
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Laughing Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Great Black-backed Gull
  • White Ibis
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Information
  • Parking
  • Viewing Blinds
  • Observation Platform