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

October 14, 2011

Look to the stars during Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival!

The 15th annual Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival, Nov. 8-13, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina offers new programs this year plus the favorites that draw folks from around the nation.

Due to recent damage from Hurricane Irene, a tour of Chicamacomico Life Saving Station and a tram tour around North Pond on Pea Island have been cancelled, but there are many more trips to enjoy. The best way to help the residents and businesses of the Outer Banks to recover is by visiting the area.

Whether a day-time or night-time person, there's a program that's sure to interest you.

Tour the night sky with an astronomer as your guide at The Lost Colony's Waterside Theater. Discover the stories in the sky and explore the constellations and bright stars that have fascinated humankind for ages. Before you know it, new knowledge will transform the vast sea of stars overhead into a readable map of the cosmos.

History-lovers won't want to miss a trip to Portsmouth Island village. Established by NC's Colonial Assembly in 1753 and maintained by the National park Service since 1976, the site is a step back in time. Although the last resident left in 1971, the village and its remaining buildings, on the National Register of Historic Places, are a living testimonial to a once-thriving and vibrant coastal community.

On Roanoke Island, visit The Island Farm, established in 1783 by Jesse Etheridge, his grandson built the restored two-story house around 1850 using hewn and pit-sawn timbers and bricks believed to be from ship's ballast. Come stroll the grounds - view grazing sheep and preserved outbuildings and stop at stations that recreate the vibrant life of the 1850's from hearth cooking where you can try your hand at making a cornmeal Johnny cake, to children's toys and games where you can give the games the Etheridge children played a try, like Hunt the Slipper, England and France, plus many others.

As always, there are many programs that focus on birding, paddling, photography and other wildlife adventures.

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!

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.

Todd Pusser, award-winning photographer, author and biologist, will be this year's keynote speaker at the annual reception dinner held at North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island on Nov. 12.

There just can't be a better way to end the day than taking a leisurely stroll through the Aquarium while enjoying a relaxing drink and then having dinner right in front of the shark tank. And when dinner is over, enjoy Pusser's presentation. He has traveled to more than 30 countries and into every ocean basin on earth. His photographs have appeared in hundreds of publications around the world and have been featured in prominent magazines such as BBC Wildlife, National Wildlife, National Geographic Kids, and Ocean Realm. NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Social 6 p.m., dinner 7 p.m.

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.