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Outdoors & Environmental Newsletter | May 2013 | VBgov.com/Parks 
What Makes this Bird Unique? 

Brown PelicanIf you see a bird soaring over the water with a long beak and a big neck, you are looking at a Brown Pelican here in Virginia Beach. There are eight species of pelicans and they all have that neck pouch in common. The brown pelican, however, is the only one that dives for its food and it is quite a sight to see! As it dives, it tucks its head and rotates its body to the left. This protects its trachea and esophagus (which are on the right side of its neck) from the impact of the plunge. When it dives into the water, the pelican stuns the fish with the force of its impact, allowing it to collect the fish in its throat pouch. The pelican does not store the fish in its throat pouch, as many believe, but rather it is their way of capturing the fish. As the pelican eats, it drains water from its pouch and swallows the fish.
Now that you know what you're looking for, keep your eyes open this summer and you're sure to see some pelicans. Seeing these birds dive for their food is an amazing sight.
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Volunteer for Clean the Bay Day! 
Saturday, June 1 | 9 am - 12 pm | Locations Across Virginia Beach  


Clean the Bay Day Do your part in helping to keep waterways clean in Virginia by volunteering for the 25th Annual Clean the Bay Day on Saturday, June 1 from 9 am - 12 pm. Clean the Bay Day is an opportunity to get involved in saving the Chesapeake Bay from harmful and damaging debris that pollute our shorelines and waterways and kill marine wildlife, especially birds, sea turtles, and fish. Every year since 1989, thousands of volunteers of all ages have dedicated their time to clear debris from Virginia's urban, suburban, and rural shorelines and waterways. In 2012 alone, approximately 6,800 volunteers from communities throughout the Commonwealth removed more than 150,000 pounds of debris from nearly 500 miles of streams and shoreline.  


Clean the Bay Day is organized by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and we are honored to take part in coordinating a mass volunteer effort to help restore the Chesapeake Bay and encourage environmental stewardship.   


Get involved! By foot or by boat, gather your groups, friends, neighbors, co-workers and volunteer for an engaging day and worthwhile way of helping 'Save the Bay.' For more information about clean-up sites in your area and how you can help, contact Anne Marie Studds at 385-0472 or amstudds@VBgov.com.
Bio-Blitz at Pleasure House Point Helps to Identify Wildlife

Diamondback Terrapin
Diamondback Terrapin | Photo credit: Stuart McCausland
Earlier this month, Parks & Recreation held a Bio-Blitz at Pleasure House Point. Teams of citizen volunteers interested in studying wildlife combed the property to record all types of living things including birds, fish, mammals, macro invertebrates and plants that were present on the property. There were 63 bird species identified, with some interesting finds such as the Common Loon, which was most likely using Pleasure House Creek as a migration stop over site, and the elusive Clapper and King Rails that hide in the marsh grasses and are commonly heard, but rarely seen. 
The man-made ponds at Pleasure House Point do not hold many large fish species, but they do house many macro invertebrate species including: Soft Shell Clams, Muscles, fish larvae, Comb Jellies, Nettle Jellies, and Bristle Worms. Our near shore waters are home to juvenile Blue Crabs, Marsh Crabs, Spot Croaker, Atlantic Silverside, White Mullet, Blue Muscles, Mummichog as well as juvenile and adult Oysters. 
Karen Callaway, a post-graduate student with a Master's Degree in Ecology, is a current contract employee in our Planning, Design & Development division who coordinated the Bio-Blitz. She will be assisting in developing a management plan for the property. The management plan will guide our stewardship efforts for Pleasure House Point in the future. Check out some photos of the Bio-Blitz.
Learn About Virginia Beach's Urban Forestry Plan   


Urban ForestAn urban forest consists of the trees where we live, work and play and provides many benefits to our community. Broadly comprised of urban parks, street trees, landscaped boulevards, public gardens, greenways, wetlands and natural areas, urban forests are dynamic ecosystems that play an important role in our environment: they filter air, water, sunlight, provide shelter to animals and recreational area for people. They moderate local climate, slowing wind and stormwater, and shading homes and businesses to conserve energy. Urban forests are fundamental to Virginia Beach's physical beauty, strong neighborhoods, sustainable development, clean air and water, energy conservation, and economic vitality.  


You are invited to provide input on the Urban Forest Management Plan through public meetings and an online survey. The first public meeting, held Wednesday, discussed the City's northern watersheds (Lynnhaven River, Elizabeth River, Rudee, Oceanfront, and Little Creek). The next meeting will focus on the southern watersheds (North Landing River, Back Bay, Northwest River, and Sandbridge) and will take place on Wednesday, May 22 at Princess Anne Recreation Center from 6:30 - 8 pm. Learn what is in the works to improve the environmental, economic and social benefits of the city through the proper planting, maintenance and preservation of trees. 


Read more about Urban Forestry in Virginia Beach.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Purchasing a Tent


TentIt can be tricky and a little overwhelming trying to figure out what tent to buy. Heading into the camping season, you want to make sure you have the right tent so you and your family will have a comfortable and fun time. To best prepare yourself to go tent shopping, you'll want to be able to answer these questions:
1. What are you using this tent for? Are you backpacking by yourself or car camping with your family? 
2. When do you camp? Is it mostly in the summer when you'll need more vents in your tent? Or do you camp more when it is cold or snowy? If so, you will need a 4-season tent that will protect you from the cold and wind.
3. Where do you spend most of your time? If most of your time is high in the mountains you'll need a different tent than if you're in the woods or on the beach in the dead of summer.
4.  How do you go camping? Do you go with a group, a significant other, friends, or family? This will determine the size of tent you will need.
5. What is most important to you? Price, weight, or space? If you are backpacking and moving camp every night, you want a nice light tent that has an easy setup. The weight of the tent should be 2-3 pounds per person. So, if it is a two-person tent, it should only weigh about 4-6 pounds. But if weight doesn't matter as much to you, you might compromise weight for space.
6. Lastly, look at the details. Look at how many doors it has. If it only has one door, but two of you are sleeping in it, you may want to consider looking at a two-door tent. How much vestibule do you want? A vestibule is the extendable sections of a tent's rainfly to give you a little extra dry spot for shoes or equipment.
All these things are personal preference, so ask your friends what they like, but consider your own needs. Also, check out this article from REI about choosing a backpacking tent.
Please Note Our Upcoming Facility Closures 


Bow Creek Recreation Center is closed for a long-term modernization project.

All Virginia Beach Recreation Centers and Owl Creek Tennis Center will be closed on Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day. Parks will be open!

Don't forget that your membership is good at all Virginia Beach Recreation Centers! If your usual center is closed for maintenance, take the opportunity to visit another center. Use this locator to help you find one!

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation believes all of our diverse citizens have a right to participate in community recreation and we are committed to creating equal access for everyone who may have a challenge or barrier. If your child requires additional support, we can help.  Learn more about our accommodation and inclusion services.
We welcome your comments and questions.  Feel free to email us at fun@vbgov.com.
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Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA,
the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association.