Updates Related to COVID-19 »

Willis Wharf

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 for any COVID-19 policies or closures. This information is typically posted on a site's own website. Remember to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines while enjoying the outdoors.


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.

From the Previous Site on the Eastern Shore Loop of VBWT:

From Brownsville Preserve, head west on Brownsville Rd/ Rt 608. Turn right (north) on VA-600/Seaside Rd. Travel 4.2 miles, then turn right (east) on Rt 603/ Willis Wharf Rd  and continue to 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; info@esvatourism.org and Northampton County Dept. of Public Works: 757-678-0414
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

10 Most Recent Bird Observations Added to eBird

  • Bufflehead
  • Marbled Godwit
  • Dunlin
  • Willet
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Forster's Tern
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Canada Goose
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Short-billed Dowitcher

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Observation Platform
  • Boat Ramp