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“Great Birding Spot for Waders and Ducks”

Ranked #1,539 of 2,377 things to do in Virginia
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Owner description: A favorite spot to spot snow geese during winter.
Reviewed May 30, 2013

Sad to say, on our "VA" Birding Trip we saw the best/most birds in NC! (See my VA reviews). MacKay Refuge on Knotts Island was The Best. It is only about 40 minutes on back roads from Sandbridge (where we were staying). If you take the ride, notice all the tiny cemetery plots in people's yards along the way! (we don't see that in PA) Now on to MacKay.

In ditches along the Marsh Causeway Rd. on the way look for Common Moorhens. Turn in the Entrance Rd. and drive back to the park office. Flycatchers, etc. in fields along the way. Shortly before the office on the left is a pullover and walk up to a viewing platform. Saw an American Bittern, and glossy Ibis, among others. Drive back out and continue on 615, turn left on MacKay Island Road at the park sign. Drive back as far as you can and park by the restrooms and viewing platform (road is blocked at this point). Check out ducks from the viewing platform! Continue walking on MacKay Rd. past the barrier. Large numbers of waders and sandpipers are to be found further back near where the Cross Dike road turns left.

This is mostly distance viewing. GOOD binoculars, a spotting scope and/or long lens camera are helpful.

3  Thank Khiori
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5 - 6 of 6 reviews

Reviewed January 30, 2012

Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge (pronounced Mackie by locals) is about 90 minutes from the Virginia Beach Resort area, 60 minutes or less from Sandbridge and from the NC Outer Banks you can easily take the free Currituck Ferry to Knotts Island as Mackay Island is adjacent to KI. This location is a stopover for migratory birds and home to others. I visited with a wildlife group in January and was lucky to have 50 degree, sunny weather. Our guide said to avoid July/August due to biting flies that will carry you away, I trust him. The refuge has basically a circular road of about 5-7 miles, certain times of the year it is open to cars but usually at least a portion is closed although hiking and biking is allowed. Before visiting, check with the refuge office to verify access. On the day we went, there were hundreds of snow geese, tundra geese, coots, several eagles, ibis, heron, egrets, and all close enough to get good looks even without binoculars. The sheer numbers of birds are stunning, and the variety is wonderful. Check the brochure for birds that may be seen during the time of your visit. If you have an interest in NWR facilities don't miss this one. There is also a Friends of Mackay Island organization that provides great support to the refuge and has knowlegable people, you'll be fortunate if you encounter one of them. I don't think there is an entry fee but donations would be gratefully accepted.
Here is a link to their detailed brochure:

6  Thank goneagain2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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