Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Seasons: All
- Site Contact: (804) 225-2303, Rebecca.Wilson@dcr.virginia.gov
- Site Access: Free, Daily
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Site CMT04: Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve
Bethel Beach is a sandy, southward pointing finger that separates the eastern side of Winter Harbor from Chesapeake Bay. The beach, actually a spit, may be walked northward, and southward as far as the tidal cut. The northeastern beach tiger beetle, a federal threatened insect that thrives in the soft sand, inhabits the beach. In addition to the beetles, over 185 species of birds have been observed here, including 25 species of shorebirds. Visitors should carefully scan the beach, offshore bay waters (where Wilson's storm-petrels fly during summer), tidal lagoons, salt marsh, shrubby swamp, and deeper channels. During fall, American golden plover and stilt sandpiper are among the shorebirds that inhabit the site; watch the marsh for rails, bitterns, and sparrows. Winter brings opportunities to encounter snow bunting, northern gannet, tundra swan, and numerous types of waterfowl. Please remember that Bethel Beach is a Natural Area Preserve and as such, contains sensitive natural communities. Respect this area by staying on designated paths, leaving pets in the car or at home, and not removing anything from the area.
From North Haven Beach, return to the intersection of Rt. 643/Rt. 645. Turn right on Rt. 643, travel 0.2 miles, and turn left on Knight Wood Avenue/Rt. 613. Proceed 1.5 miles and turn left on Rt. 611. Continue for 2.0 miles, turn left on Rt. 609, and follow it 2.0 miles to the end of the road.