The Winged World at Pleasure House Point

June 19th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

Jane Scott NorrisOn a cool and breezy Saturday morning, I joined Audubon birder Steve Coari and a group of seven bird enthusiasts for a walk at Pleasure House Point, a 118-acre preserve on the banks of the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach.

I have walked the Beach Trail at Pleasure House Point before, but walking it again with this group gave me a new appreciation of the preserve’s value as a habitat for songbirds and wading birds. Not only was Steve constantly calling out bird species – Green Heron, Blue Grosbeak, Mallard, Chickadee, Pine Warbler, Least Tern – but so were the other participants: “Up top! Up top! Cormorant, Chimney Swift, Red-winged Blackbird!” Everyone would swing around to look and the camera shutters would start clicking.

As we walked through the pine woods and beside the ponds, the creek and the river, I noted twenty-two different birds, and heard people call out a few others that I didn’t see. Along the way, Steve provided information about the birds’ activities. “Hear that? Sounds like a squeaky toy? Chimney Swift,” he said. On the creek bank, he pointed to a pile of oyster shells: “Someone’s been feeding.”

The Yellow-Crowned Night Herons were the stars of the show for me. Fellow participant Jane Scott Norris captured this gorgeous photograph of a Night Heron reflected in the pond and generously shared it with ShoreLines. We also saw Night Herons flying, landing, ducking into the water for food, and sitting as a pair in a tree. I got close enough to get a good look at their markings so next time I’ll be able to identify them myself.

A Great Egret – white as a sheet and easy to spot against dark green foliage across the creek – was a highlight, as was a Cormorant, afloat on the river and eating a fish. We saw an osprey on its nest, feeding its young, and we heard Mocking Birds doing what they do best. When birding, Steve says he listens for the calls, looks for movement, and looks for “snags” – dead trees or branches near the water where birds perch. He visits Pleasure House Point frequently so he knows where birds like to hang out. He advised that low tide is a good time to go birding because when the water recedes, exposed food attracts birds. In addition to providing habitat for many resident birds, Pleasure House Point is a stopover for migratory birds. That makes it an ideal place for bird watching in every season, which is a reason to return often.

On the absence of an avid birder, the field guide to the Chesapeake Bay is helpful for identifying birds and their calls. The guided walk was free and sponsored by Lynnhaven River Now, an organization that educates folks about the river and contributes to its health via advocacy, restoration projects and events. All they ask is that participants pick up any trash they spot during the walk. It’s a small price to pay for a two-hour living lesson on birds and their behavior. Special thanks to Steve Coari and Trista Imrich of Lynnhaven River Now for this chance to walk in the winged world.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron photo courtesy of Jane Scott Norris

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Celebrating the 100th Fishing Blog

June 15th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Editor's Pick - Congrats to your 100th post, Capt. Mike

Editor's Pick - Congrats on your 100th post, Capt. Mike!

As I pen my 100th article for this fishing blog, it remains a pleasure to share Virginia Beach as one of the premier angling destinations anywhere in the world. Whether your preference is surf, inlet, bay or ocean fishing, our angling options are consistently world-class. From spot and croaker to striped bass, blue marlin or tuna, our waters have it all. As summer approaches, now is a perfect time to plan that Virginia Beach vacation that will offer the enjoyment, fun and challenge of a wide variety of fishing opportunities.

Surf Zone: Puppy drum in the 18- to 26-inch slot class have been pleasing anglers in the surf near the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier. Other crowd pleasers in that arena have been striped bass along with feisty bluefish, many of which have measured well over 30 inches.  The same big blues have been frequenting Rudee Inlet, apparently feasting on schools of bait fish.

Rudee Inlet: There is a good mix of fish available inside the inlet. Anglers soaking blood worms and squid are likely to encounter spot, croaker, sea trout, puppy drum, bluefish and flounder.  Many croaker have been good size of a pound or more.  Small flounder remain plentiful, with some anglers enjoying fair success in enticing keeper 16-inch flatfish.

Lynnhaven and Little Creek Inlets hold the same species, but with less likelihood of large bluefish. I just had my own brief encounter with a big bluefish in Rudee – following a line-sizzling run, the fish cut me off, happily allowing me to return to flounder fishing. For the largest flounder, try jigging white Gulp minnows or fish fresh cut strip baits.  

A Rudee Inlet flounder tags along with Lee Hughes, Sr. prior to release

A Rudee Inlet flounder tags along with Lee Hughes, Sr. prior to release

If a friendly smiling gentleman approaches and asks to “borrow” your fish, you will help the ecosystem by loaning your catch. Lee Hughes Sr. is a well-known fish tagger who has been tagging fish for years at Rudee Inlet. Lee has hundreds of tags to his credit.  He will measure your catch, record the data and then carefully release it.  The data is used to monitor growth and travel at recapture and provide information to support sustainable harvest. Best of all – it will feel great to see your fish set free. 

Chesapeake Bay: Cobia are here in force with many weighing up to 70 to 80 pounds. Try fishing the shoals, channel edges or the Bluefish Rock area. For an extra challenge, try sight fishing and tossing a bucktail lure in front of a cobia – and then hold on! Spadefish as well as sheepshead are in the bay around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel; however, neither species is on a strong bite yet. Similarly, bay flounder catches have not been as reliable as inside the inlets.  Sporadic flounder bites may be due to freshwater runoff following rain storms.  On a high note, several flounder of 7 lb. citation size have already been taken in bay waters.  Stripers remain available, although many anglers are concentrating on large cobia for now.  Croaker are the other strong bay presence.

Most red drum coming from bay shoal areas have been 46 inches or larger. This bite has remained consistent and is still one of the best opportunities for earning a release citation award from the free Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament program.  Schools of black drum are moving from the shoals to take up summer residence around the islands of the CBBT.

Offshore: In addition to large black sea bass, good size flounder are available at the Triangle Wrecks some thirty miles offshore. Also, Virginia’s offshore fishing is ready to heat up as reported by one of our best local charter captains.  His boat returned with a blue marlin release, a mahi mahi (dolphin), and a 25-lb. class yellowfin tuna.  That is the type of action local and visiting anglers can’t wait to get in on!

Drop Deep for Big Success: Deep drop enthusiasts are returning to the dock with black bellied rosefish, large seabass, grouper, and blueline and golden tilefish. On a recent 17-hour trip, one fisherman hooked and landed a 43-inch, 57 lb. golden tilefish.  That fish has already qualified for a citation award and is currently pending approval as a new state record fish.

Captain’s Tip: When planning a bay or inlet fishing trip, try to allow a few days following heavy rains for fresh tides to clear the waters. Also, incoming tides tend to provide cleaner water as we approach summer.

Tournament Trail

Military Tournament:

taclogoA free fishing tournament open to all active-duty military and dependents runs through July 20. Participants in this Tidewater Anglers Club sponsored tournament only need a Virginia saltwater fishing license.  Prizes include cash awards, youth trophies, and a one-year club membership for each winner.   For information: 757.499.1834 or visit

VBAC Banner

Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament: July 13, August 10 and September 14 on Lynnhaven Pier. Open to all with awards for croaker, roundhead, bluefish and spot. For information, call 267.994.7423 or visit or

VB tournament logo

Virginia Beach Tuna Tournament, June 25 – 28 Marina Shores, 2190 Marina Shores Drive, Virginia Beach, VA. Call (757)  496-7000 or visit

Captain’s Note: Lynnhaven Inlet beach on the western side of the inlet is closed. The beach is closed for 3 years while being used to stage construction of a new inlet bridge.    Boating anglers may continue to launch boats and park trailers.

Best Bets: Flounder and croaker (inlets), cobia (Chesapeake Bay)

Tight lines and hard strikes to all!

Capt. Mike

front cover Mike

Editor’s Note:
Capt. Mike’s book – True Tales of the Tide: An Angler’s Lifelong Quest - includes 13 true saltwater action-adventure fishing stories mostly set in Virginia Beach. The book shares stories about local catches ranging from citation “spot” up to several state record fish. I’ve read this book myself and highly recommend it. Talk about getting the story from a local’s perspective…….it doesn’t get any better than this!

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Living the Happy Life: Simple Virginia Beach pleasures, sunny days, and making time for lemonade!

June 13th, 2014 by Sherry Friel
Nathaniel manning his lemonade stand

Nathaniel manning his lemonade stand

As far as timeless childhood pastimes go, hosting a lemonade stand is probably right up there with learning to ride a bike without training wheels. It’s an unwritten rule that every kid must, at some point prior to the age of 10, run a lemonade stand featuring the ice-cold beverage and a few snacks for sale.

Now, I don’t know if it was the particularly wet, dreary weather we had this winter, but my 10-year-old son Nathaniel and his 9-year-old buddy had lots of indoor time on their hands to plan the most elaborate lemonade stand in the history of lemonade stands in our neighborhood. After witnessing the level of detail these two went into prior to having their first sale last weekend, I have no doubt these kids are going to move mountains in their future. And I don’t even want to hear my son complain about his homework because nothing he’s even done in school could rival the work he put into this stand.

Here’s a rundown of the steps leading up to the big day, based on the mountain of lists, construction paper, and posterboard I finally rifled through out of curiosity. Well, truth be told, I had to finally remove these items from my table in order to make sure the table was indeed still there.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Beach Report – June 13, 2014

June 13th, 2014 by Guest Blogger

This Week in The Beach Report, Guest Blogger Mindy Hughes serves up some Southern theatre fare in Virginia Beach – enjoy!

Pump Boys and Dinettes PR PhotoA Season of Southern Charm

After leaving my Pennsylvania birthplace and crossing the Mason-Dixon line more than three decades ago, I’ve become a bona fide Southern gal who embraces all things Southern – civility, shrimp & grits and sweet iced tea top my list.

So, it’s no surprise that I’m looking forward to the Tidewater Stage “Season of Southern Charm,” which features the hilarious country music revue Pump Boys and Dinettes June 20-29 and the award-winning Driving Miss Daisy Aug. 1-10.

My theatre-loving daughter and I enjoyed last summer’s inaugural season for this critically-acclaimed professional theatre company in residence at Regent University right here in Virginia Beach. We’re both looking forward to this summer’s performances and in true “Southern hospitality” style, we’re gathering friends to share the fun.

Pump Boys and Dinettes takes place in (very) rural, North Carolina, deep in Grand Ole Opry country, where the “Pump Boys” sell high octane on Highway 57, and the “Dinettes” serve up plenty of pie and sass at the Double Cupp Diner next door. Together they fashion an evening of country and bluegrass music with heartache and hilarity, performing the stories of their lives on guitars, piano, bass and even kitchen utensils.

Driving Miss Daisy has become a household name since the 1989 feature film adaptation staring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman won four Academy Awards. And I’m told by theatre insiders that it’s even better on the stage. The story follows Daisy Werthan, a sharp-tongued Jewish widow, in postwar Atlanta. She’s demolished her car—again. Ornery and uninsurable, she is forced to rely on the services of gentle, soft-spoken Hoke, an African American chauffeur. What begins as a hostile and suspicious pairing blossoms into a friendship for the ages.

Tidewater Stage productions feature a mix of theatre professionals alongside faculty, graduate students and alumni from Regent’s theatre department. It’s topnotch entertainment that’s added a new dimension to our region’s cultural landscape, especially during the summer when most of our local theatre companies are enjoying a well-deserved break.

Both of these productions are inspiring and fun summer attractions that complement a beach vacation.

Eric Harrell, the producing artistic director for Tidewater Stage, said it best: “Audiences will be hollering for more as we celebrate the indomitable Southern spirit. With our Southern roots, the second season of Tidewater Stage is a love song to family, friends and fried chicken!”

Learn more about Tidewater Stage.

About the author:

A resident of Virginia Beach since 1983, Mindy Hughes is a successful public relations counselor. She describes herself as an adoring roadie to a blues-rock guitarist for more than 30 years, devoted mom of two adult kids and two dogs, enthusiastic community and church volunteer, avid reader of spy thrillers and murder mysteries, brave motorcycle (backseat) rider, and connoisseur of good food and fine beverages. Mindy loves the Beach life and also enjoys traveling throughout Virginia on her quest to visit all of the state’s 200+ wineries.

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The Beach Report – June 6, 2014

June 6th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

Blogger Katherine Jackson gives us some schooling on where some of VB’s local lingo came from in this week’s Beach Report.  Enjoy!

Local Lingo

First Street courtesy of Katherine Jackson

First Street courtesy of Katherine Jackson

A few years ago, I worked for the company that put on the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on Labor Day weekend. Some of the key players had traveled from San Diego to coordinate race logistics. I stood on the Boardwalk with one of the operations guys while he talked on his cell phone to someone who was in Virginia Beach for the first time. “We’re at First Street,” he said. “There is no First Street, but that’s what they call it. It’s the south end of the Boardwalk at Rudee Inlet.” I remembered this incident the other day when I was running on the Boardwalk and turned around at First Street. (See, you’re already in the know. You already know what First Street means.) As I ran, I made a list of terms that might be helpful for newcomers to Virginia Beach. For example, locals refer to the commercial district between Rudee Inlet and 40th Street as “the Oceanfront” or “the Resort.” Although there’s an oceanfront at “the North End” (north of the Cavalier on the Hill) and in Sandbridge (the southernmost beach), that’s not where we mean when we say we’re biking at the Oceanfront. I was still thinking about local lingo as I made my way through a cluster of bikes parked outside the new Back Bay Brewing Company on Norfolk Avenue. Their brewmasters are cooking up some tasty beer with locally resonant names: Atlantic Avenue IPA and Beach Cruiser Pale Ale. But Steel Pier Bohemian Lager? You might have noticed a wooden pier at 15th Street, but when people say they surfed at “the Steel Pier” that’s not the pier they mean. They’re talking about the steel pier that used to exist near First Street. More local language: If someone says she launched her kayak at Seashore State Park, she means First Landing State Park, which was renamed not long ago to commemorate the landing of English settlers who sailed up the Chesapeake Bay to found Jamestown. Speaking of the Chesapeake Bay, sometimes we lump together all of the beaches along the Chesapeake Bay, as in “I’m going over to Chic’s Beach for a swim.” Chic’s Beach is actually the stretch of beach near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, while other sections are identified when necessary as Cape Henry Beach or Ocean Park. More lingo: “ECSC” – the East Coast Surfing Championships that happen every year in August. “The Art Center” – the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, which puts on the annual Boardwalk Art Show, this year June 12-15. “The County” – the southern section of the city, formerly called Princess Anne County, where you’ll find strawberry fields, produce stands and horse barns. And finally, “the jetty” – the rocky protrusions that line Rudee Inlet and create a surf break at First Street. Armed with these terms, you’ll find it easier to get around at “The Beach,” which is what you’ll call Virginia Beach now that you’re in the know with the local lingo.

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