Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

June 28. Sunday.   After several miserable humid rainy days, the sun came out with a slight breeze and Doug said “It is such a nice day, we need to do something.”  A friend had mentioned Back Bay several days ago, so I suggested we ride out there.  My, my…I lived in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA, all my life until we we sold the house 6 years ago to go full-timing.  In all that time I NEVER visited Back Bay! Now that we are only visiting here, we decided to see it!  Go figure!  The drive takes you close to the coast, and some portions are right along the beachfront through an area we used to use to go to the beach.  The Sandbridge area is really popular with locals, and being the weekend, the place was packed.  Sandbridge is just an area of hundreds of beach cottages.  Only at the start of Sandbridge Road do you find only one place to eat at a quick-stop with parking lots.  Of course, signs were out saying all the lots were full.  There are a couple more parking lots at the very end of the road just before reaching the refuge.

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Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is in southeastern VA and is in Virginia Beach.  Established in 1938 in an isolated portion of the former Princess Anne County, it is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. . The Visitor Contact Center is accessed via Sandpiper Road from Sandbridge Road, which is the southernmost area of development on the Atlantic Coast of Virginia.  After entering the refuge, it is a pleasant drive through sand dunes and beach brush.  The dunes are so high that you can’t see the ocean.  

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Most of the 9,062.45 acre fresh water refuge is on the Currituck Banks Peninsula, which borders the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Back Bay of the Currituck Sound on the west. As part of Virginia's Outer Banks, the refuge's barrier islands feature large sand dunes, maritime forests, fresh water marshes, ocean beach, and large impoundments for wintering wildfowl. The majority of refuge marshlands are on islands contained within the waters of Back Bay. It is considered by conservationists to be an important link along the Atlantic Flyway for migratory birds such as snow geese.

It was a gorgeous day with nice breezes, and it was nice and quiet out there. There are trails through the marsh and dunes.   I don’t think the turtle was too happy about us disturbing his pond!  We saw him on a trail and as soon as he heard us coming, he took off back to the pond so fast, I  couldn’t get a decent picture.  Pretty big dragonflies were all over the place!  I played with my camera and was able to get these good pictures that even captured their wings. 

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There piers out over the water on the bay side. 

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After we explored the bay side, we took the trail over to the beach, which is still part of the refuge. 

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Ah, it was so nice out there on the beach with few people, blue sky, breezes, rolling waves, and pelicans flying low over the water.  Locals enjoy fishing, but there is no sunbathing allowed.  Just very relaxing. 

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A great way to spend a few a few hours roaming around.

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