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

Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival has something for everyone

Nature, history, entertainment — it's all wild on the Outer Banks of North Carolina!

The 15th annual Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival, Nov. 8-13, in addition to birding, paddling and photography programs, also includes a number opportunities that will appeal to those who want to know more about the yesteryears of the area or look to the stars.

Sit back and relax in the Lost Colony's Waterside Theatre for a tour of the night sky with astronomer Woodrow Grizzle of the Elizabeth City State University ECSU Planetarium as your a guide. The stars are the same ones that helped guide The Lost Colony to these shores 20 years before Jamestown was settled. Discover the stories in the sky and explore the constellations and bright stars that have fascinated humankind for ages. New knowledge will transform the vast sea of stars overhead into a readable map of the cosmos. And it is family- friendly — two children 12 and under may accompany paying adult for no charge.

Portsmouth Island village, established by NC's Colonial Assembly in 1753 and maintained by the National Park Service since 1976, 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, the site of the first attempt at English colonization of the New World (20 years before Jamestown), visit The Island Farm established in 1783 by Jesse Etheridge, and 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! 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.

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.