Birders on the dunes of Ocracoke for a Wings Over Water field trip. Gil Randell, a raptor migration expert, is third from right. Photo: P. Vankevich

Editor’s note: The Portsmouth Island field trip is full, Ocracoke has three openings as of yesterday (Sept. 14). 

Since its beginning 20 years ago, the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival has grown so much it now describes itself as the one of the East Coast’s premier wildlife festivals.
Taking place Oct. 17 to 22 and again Dec. 9 and 10, the event will feature 99 trips and programs. It was developed in large part to attract visitors to the Outer Banks during a time when tourism activity is slower and the weather is cooler though still mild.

Semipalmated Plover on Ocracoke. Photo: P. Vankevich

In addition to numerous birding field trips and workshops, there are also sunrise and sunset kayak tours and photography forays. A new activity will be Bear and Bird Photography with Mark Buckler, Oct. 20.
The festival events take place primarily on the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, on Hatteras Island and at the Alligator
River National Wildlife Refuge on the Dare County mainland.

Two birding trips–on Ocracoke, Oct. 20, and Portsmouth islands, Oct. 21–will be led by Peter Vankevich, the Christmas Bird Count compiler for these two islands.

Wing Over Water leaders are professors, top birders, well-respected botanists and biologist, authors and award-winning photographers and artists.  As in the past, the Ocracoke trip will include Gil Randell, a long-time member of the Hawk Migration Association of North America, meeting with the group on the dunes to give an orientation on raptor migration.

The fees for these trips are usually $20 to $25. Portsmouth Island is $40 to cover the boat fee.
For more information, including the schedule of events
and registration, go to, or call 252-216-9464

A Peregrine Falcon soars over Ocracoke. Photo: P. Vankevich