Edward S. Brinkley Nature Preserve/ Seaside Walkway

Edward S. Brinkley Nature Preserve

If you go... 



  • Location: 20190 Seaside Rd, Cape Charles, VA 23310
  • Open Dawn to Dusk
  • Northampton County has established a nature preserve at the site of the landfill outside of Oyster, which features an approximately 3/4 mile hike along a mowed trail, to a path and boardwalk through a small wooded area, the 1/4 mile boardwalk terminates at an overlook platform with a gorgeous view of the barrier islands and seaside lagoons.
  • Parking for the trail is located on the east side of Seaside Road, .2 miles south of the intersection with Cobb Station Road, or .3 miles north from the landfill truck entrance on Seaside Road. 
  • For larger groups school bus parking or parking closer to the boardwalk for accessibility are available by prior arrangement. 
  • Dogs are allowed on leash only, no fires, no hunting, no overnight camping
  • There are no restroom facilities.

The overlook at the Seaside Walkway is a serene place to connect with Nature. A deer came out of the woodland marsh and bobbed up the shoreline while we watched quietly. Zoom in to see the deer more clearly . 

Stay on Path
A wide grass path leads through meadows and into the woods where the trail picks up on a broad boardwalk that ends at the Seaside Overlook. 

It's interesting to take a look at  the history of the Northampton Preserve (Seaside Park)  which was conceived in 2003.   A great overview of the conception of the Seaside Park was written by Pat Smith for the Virginia Coastal Management magazine Summer/Falll 2003 issue titled, Seaside Program Highlight: Increasing Public Access - Seaside Park is a Rare  Opportunity in Northampton  which can be found on page 11.  (See below for the entire article)

Trails were created but not well maintained. Over the years the walkway deteriorated and was too dangerous to use. The idea of the Seaside Park was revitalized by local birding enthusiasts who saw a great opportunity to re-establish the Northampton Preserve. With the help of many agencies pitching in to help the Seaside Walkway/ Northampton Preserve is open for visitors to explore and will be maintained by the Master Naturalists of the Eastern Shore. 


Partners for the Project Nesting and Habitat Signage
Signage provides information about the kinds of animals you may encounter and a map of Brockenberry Bay. 

One such group that has been instrumental in restoring the walkway is Birding Eastern Shore and it's partner agency, Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Programs, Inc. which "provides and promotes educational programs and events to enhance the appreciation and conservation of birds, wildlife and the natural environment of the Eastern Shore of Virginia." 

Member Martina Coker addressed the Northampton County Board of Supervisors on July 13, 2020 to update them on the newly completed project. 

Presentation to the Board of Supervisors given by Martina Coker on July 13, 2020 about the newly renovated Seaside Walkway.  

Ramp to Seaside overlook


In addition to the Seaside Walkway, there is a birding blind for birdwatching on the pond. Slits are placed at varying heights to allow visitors to peek at the waterfowl without disturbing them. 

Bird blind at the pond.  Slits in the birding blind are placed at varying heights for birdwatching.


Funded by


Edward S. Brinkley Nature Preserve 

The following was written by Roberta Kellam, petitioning the Northampton County Board of Supervisors to rename the preserve in honor of Edward S. Brinkley, an esteemed Northampton County resident who passed away suddenly in 2020. The preserve was renamed in his honor on April 13, 2021. 


Edward S. ("Ned'') Brinkley, who passed away suddenly in November 2020, was a beloved member of the Northampton County community since he moved to the Shore in 2000. He was born in 1965 and adopted by Clifton Stan worth and Catherine MacDonald Lee Brinkley of Norfolk, Virginia. He graduated from Maury High School as Salutatorian in 1983 and then  completed two Bachelors of Arts degrees in Germanic Language and Literatures, and Comparative Literatures at the University of Virginia in 1987, graduating Summa Cum Laude as an Echols Scholar, Jefferson Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa.

From 1987 to 1993, he attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he earned both Masters of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Comparative Literature and Film, and also taught Field Ornithology. During the next 6 years, while working as an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Film at the University of Virginia, Ned also pursued his second career leading birding tours for Field Guides, one of the pioneering ecotourism companies.

In addition to being a published scholar, Ned was a prolific researcher and writer in his amateur
ornithological career, authoring dozens of scientific articles with original research and serving as Editor of the North American Birds journal for 16 years. In this role, Ned reported and analyzed bird sighting data from the entire North American continent, as well as authored the quarterly column, "The Changing Seasons. " In 2007, he wrote the "National Wildlife Federation's Field Guide to Birds of North America, " a comprehensive guide to identifying 750 bird species in North America. He also co-authored "Virginia's Birdlife: An Annotated Checklist, " Fourth Edition (2007), which provided detailed descriptions of 466 species of birds found in Virginia. Ned's skill and talent for synthesizing vast amounts of research into a readable format made him widely sought after by numerous publishers, and he is cited as a contributor in many of the leading bird books of today.

Ned's profession enabled him to live anywhere that he wanted; he chose Northampton County so that he could fully immerse himself in the unique environment of the Eastern Shore in order to study the incredible phenomenon of migratory birds here that many of us take for granted. Ned found himself immersed as much in our community as he was in the study of birds, living in Cape Charles for many years while he worked at a number of jobs, including operating the Sterling House Bed and Breakfast,managing the Hotel Cape Charles, and overseeing production  at New Ravenna. Most of the time, Ned worked these jobs concurrently with his bird tour leading, ornithological writing, and his own field research.

What sets Ned apart from others with a distinguished education and internationally renowned expertise was his love and generosity in sharing his gifts with others. He was a natural teacher  and mentor, never failing to respond with kindness to emails and phone calls from anyone; from beginning birders to those at his level. He alone has been the reservoir of all knowledge on Eastern Shore avifauna for the past 20 years, and the full extent of his body of research is only becoming apparent after his passing. He has seen the most bird species in Northampton County of anyone on record (nearly 4001). He was planning to write a book, yet left that work unfinished in his untimely passing. Nevertheless, his decades of birding on the Eastern Shore and his global circle of birding friends allowed him to be the most notable voice promoting the Eastern Shore of Virginia as a premier birding destination It is our hope that renaming the Northampton County Nature Preserve to honor Ned would help to raise global awareness of the Eastern Shore of Virginia's birding life and allow his friends to carry on his birding outreach, research and education.

The current Northampton County Nature Preserve is located on the Northampton Landfill property, which is not only a popular spot for local birders, but draws people from across Virginia and beyond. Much of the birding lore associated with the landfill relates to the pond, which attracts a plethora of migratory birds, as well as various vagrants - including some truly extraordinary species, such as the Gray Heron that was photographed in November 2020, only the second record of this European species for the Lower 48. Ned himself put the landfill pond on the birder's map, amassing a number of first sightings as well as recording rarities such as  Lucy's Warbler, a Southwestern species never previously recorded in Virginia, and only recorded a handful of times east of the Mississippi!

It was through Ned's encouragement that the Eastern Shore of Virginia Birding and Wildlife Programs, Inc., became involved in promoting the use of the landfill property as an official birding spot. He was involved in helping to design the observation platform signage, reviewing the photography blind plans and locating the best spots for placing the blinds. There is much work to be done and on behalf of the Board of Eastern Shore of Virginia Birding and Wildlife Programs, we ask that this project be continued in Ned's honor, by naming the preserve after him.  


Virginia Coastal Management Summer/Fall 2003
Seaside Program Highlight:
Increasing Public Access - Seaside Park is a Rare Opportunity in Northampton by Pat Smith


Northampton County is converting a seaside landfill to a new park. Already popular with bird watchers, the county is working with the Virginia Coastal Program’s Seaside Heritage Program, government, and other groups to create a park with room for not only natural habitat, but also play space and renewable energy resource projects. It is located on waterfront property off Seaside Road north of Oyster, Virginia.

Seaside Park offers a rare opportunity. The County plans to open a regional-scale park on land once reserved for landfill expansion. This property includes access to coastal waters along Brockenberry Bay, a coastal climax forest, a large freshwater pond, open fields, and an overlook to uninhabited Barrier Islands offshore.

In a broader context, this waterfront park and trails will be an important link in the Seaside Heritage Program’s Water Trail.

Over 200 acres were purchased to use as a landfill in the 1970’s. After using about 40 acres for landfill activities, the county resolved to close its landfill, restore the property, and return the land to the people and visitors of Northampton County for ecotourism and recreation. "We have the opportunity to turn a detriment into an asset to enjoy," commented County Administrator Lance Metzler. The county is working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers to assure the site restoration is adequate for safe reuse.

The Seaside Park mixes access to nature with the community’s need for group recreation and exercise. About 45 acres of climax forest, now rare on the East Coast of the US, provide haven to migrating birds traveling through the Delmarva Peninsula, natural buffer for shallow seaside waters, and inviting woods for nature lovers. An onsite freshwater lake of about 15-20 acres when full is a magnet for waterfowl and wildlife amid saltwater surroundings. The mixed habitat setting of Seaside Park is prime migratory bird habitat, rounded out with plentiful open fields and saltwater marsh.

The county has plans for trails around the lake, up on top of the closed landfill overlooking the Barrier Islands, and through the woods to the marsh The Coastal Program is funding construction of the first nature trail, through the woods to the marsh. Plans are to make the trail wheelchair & stroller friendly, and provide some protection from ticks and snakes for casual birdwatchers, walkers, sightseers, and classes, by providing a boardwalk. High use, core facilities will be centrally located, distant from the sensitive coastal buffer.

The property extends from the Seaside Road Scenic Byway (VA 600) on the west, to the marshes and protected bays behind the Barrier Islands of the Atlantic seaboard to the east. The Norfolk-Virginia Beach area is within a 40-minute drive of the park. From there, take highway 13 across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel to the Eastern Shore, turn right at highway 636 after Cheriton, right onto Seaside Road and look for the high ground on the left. From the North, take highway 13 south past Eastville, and turn left on highway 636, following the rest of the northbound directions. The park should be open by 2005. 

Source: Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program

Virginia Coastal Management Summer/Fall 2003
Seaside Program Highlight:
Increasing Public Access - Seaside Park is a Rare Opportunity in Northampton by Pat Smith


Seaside Park conceptualization

A 2003 conceptualization of Seaside Park or the Northampton Preserve/ Seaside Walkway.