Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

November 2, 2009

It's here! Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival is now underway!

The Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival, a six-day celebration of the wild side of the Outer Banks, began Tuesday and programs are scheduled through Sunday, Nov. 8. Many programs are filled but there are still lots to choose from.

Birding, natural history, photography and paddling are just some of the types of programs offered during the festival.

Participants should come prepared to be introduced to the real world of the Outer Banks where adventure is whatever folks long to enjoy. This year's offerings range from theater to kayaking, photography to birding. And photography classes include programs especially designed for families with children.

Award-winning nature photographer Mark Buckler will be this year's speaker at the festival's annual keynote event at Roanoke Island Festival Park.

He will share all the secrets about how to capture the beauty and often surprising moments in nature. Buckler also is teaching an expanded list of nature photography programs as part of Wings Over Water this year.

Before the keynote address, a reception with heavy hors’deurves and libations will be served in the Mall and inside the Museum at Roanoke Island Festival Park beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6. Advance registration required. Cost $35.

Always a favorite are the offshore birding excursions. Birders from around the world recognize the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras as one of the top sites in North America for viewing seabirds, especially the endangered Black-capped Petrel. Fall is also a great time to see shearwaters, jaegers, and other pelagic birds. This birding adventure on the safe and comfortable Stormy Petrel II with Captain Brian Patteson is an opportunity for all serious birders to add to their life lists.

Glimpses of the unique history of the Outer Banks are offered in many of the programs offered this year. The English roots of the area as evidenced by the famous Lost Colony trace back to England where Queen Elizabeth granted permission to Sir Ralegh to send a group of people to the New World to form a colony.

To celebrate and recognize that history, Wings Over Water has partnered with the professional theater company of Elizabeth R & Co. to bring the hilarious comedy "Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen" to the stage for the first-ever performance on Hatteras Island. This free performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Cape Hatteras Secondary School auditorium.

That same day Wild Times at Cape Hatteras Secondary School will be held from noon to 5 p.m. This free program will allow children to participate in some hands on projects, learn a little more about nature and to be entertained.

As always, programs include birding, paddling, natural history and art. Birding trips range from those geared toward beginners to experts who are searching for a life-list species. There are more than 400 species that can be found on the Outer Banks, of which more than a quarter of a million acres is in conservation in Dare County alone! And for those hankering to add pelagic species to their lists, two pelagic trips are being offered this year.

The region offers some of the country's best paddling for canoe and kayak enthusiasts. From tannin-fed cypress swamps to endless marsh mazes, it is possible to paddle the region for a lifetime yet still study charts at night, discovering unexplored areas.

Registration currently is open for an assortment of water trips escorted by leaders who are familiar with the various areas. Physical demands range from open water with wind exposure, to short distances with excellent wind protection.

Lighthouses, museums and area historic attractions also are hosting programs this year. These offerings will both inspire and intrigue participants with the unique heritage of the Outer Banks.

This festival is traditionally set during the "shoulder season" when rates are lower for accommodations, traffic is light and the weather is mild. To learn more about the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival call 252-216-9464 or go to www.wingsoverwater.org.

Wings Over Water is sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, Carolina Bird Club, Roanoke Island Festival Park and the Outer Banks Sentinel.