People are advised not to gather in large numbers this year, but bird lovers can still check out the magnificent ospreys and other bird life virtually. Downtown Colonial Beach, a historic preservation organization and VA Main Street affiliate, has a delightful; website for people to observe the ospreys and learn all about them at https://www.colonialbeachospreyfestival.org.
Colonial Beach is a cute little Virginia town about equal distance from Washington and Richmond. It boasts a long natural beach, lively arts scene, music and dining. Swallows are famous for returning to Capistrano, California and buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio each spring. Colonial Beach welcomes the magnificent ospreys every year to this historic Northern Neck community.
The town held its first annual Osprey Festival in 2019 to celebrate the birds’ return to the town located in the Potomac/Chesapeake Bay watershed, the largest osprey nesting grounds in the world. It was a great success but this year, with a pandemic raging, festival organizers were forced to adapt – and a virtual osprey festival was born. The site was made possible through the pro bono efforts of Deborah Newman of Petite Taway Inc., a Virginia website design company. Deborah Newman also designed a Colonial Beach Osprey Festival Facebook site to complement the website and receive postings.
Water defines Colonial Beach. It is located along a wide section of the Potomac a few miles before it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. It’s “Point” neighborhood has the Potomac on the east and Monroe Bay on the west, resulting in spectacular sunrise and sunsets, and a very hospitable environment for ospreys.
The Colonial Beach “Virtual” Osprey Festival offers much of what would have been offered at the live festival. There are many photos, stories, videos, and presentations on the ospreys and other birdlife characteristic of the area. New material will be coming in week by week and people can access several osprey cams through the site.
Local townspeople are urged to become “Osprey Watchers” of the osprey families nesting in and around Colonial Beach. From among these postings, a King and Queen Osprey will be chosen at the end of their season in September with a prize awarded for the observant reporters. Others further afield who feel they have something interesting to show or tell about ospreys and other birdlife are also encouraged to send in reports. Posts can be sent in directly for the website to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted on the Colonial Beach Osprey Festival Facebook site.
Birds are not the only subjects on display. Art, music, and local historic sites are featured including the birthplaces of three presidents born nearby--Washington, Madison and Monroe--and the ancestral home of the Lee family. The site also showcases the history and architecture of the Colonial Beach downtown and beachfront, a steamboat era resort at the dawn of the 20th century and an early casino gambling mecca mid-century. Donations, sponsorships, and advertising revenue raised through the virtual festival will be applied to revitalizing the historic downtown through preservation-based development and beautification in the form of landscaping and tree planting to make the town an even more welcoming and enjoyable place for residents, visitors, and our feathered friends as well.