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Willis Wharf


Willis Wharf is famous for the whimbrels that pass through on their way to and from their southern wintering grounds. These shorebirds stop for several weeks during migrations in spring (April – May) and fall (July – September) to congregate on the extensive tidal flats located here. At the peak of migration flocks of several hundred birds may be seen. In addition to the whimbrels, semipalmated sandpipers are abundant here during their migratory passages.

While scanning the tidal flats, look for black-bellied plover, marbled godwit, short-billed dowitcher, dunlin, red knot, willet, and semipalmated plover. Summer birds include black skimmer, American oystercatcher, and a rich variety of gulls, terns, and long-legged waders. Check the marshes in winter for saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrows.

Tip: For the best birding experience, visit this area at low tide (starting at least 2 hours before high tide).


Observation Platform Location: off of Willis Wharf Rd., Exmore, VA 23350 (just north of 5179 Willis Wharf Rd.)

Coordinates: 37.509019, -75.805509

From US-13 in Exmore, travel east on Rt 178/ Main St at Exmore Stop Light. Continue 0.6 miles as Rt 178 becomes US-13 Business. Turn left (east) on Rt 603/ Willis Wharf Rd and travel 1.8 miles. Turn left into Willis Wharf Harbor parking lot. Walk to the observation platform.

Location & Directions

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Site Information

  • Site Contact: Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism: 757-331-1660; and Northampton County Dept. of Public Works: 757-678-0414
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Birds Recently Seen at Willis Wharf (as reported to eBird)

  • Canada Goose
  • Mourning Dove
  • Clapper Rail
  • American Oystercatcher
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Whimbrel
  • Willet
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Laughing Gull

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Observation Platform
  • Boat Ramp