SATURDAY, January 19 - PLEASURE HOUSE POINT PRESERVE 3957 Marlin Bay Road, Virginia Beach - Meet 8:00 AM
We seem to have a bit of a weather challenge with this trip, but it’s going to happen this time! Right?! Once again, we will walk the salt marsh, maritime forest, and sandy trails on this winter trip. When the weather is good, hundreds of waterfowl, including American Black Ducks, Gadwall, Northern Shovelers, Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, American Wigeon, and Ruddy Ducks can be seen from the beach trail. Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Cooper’s Hawks, both Black and Turkey Vultures, may be around, as well as, Double-crested Cormorants, Pied-billed Grebes, and Great Blue Herons. Birds found in the thickets and wooded areas included Eastern Towhees, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, Juncos and more. With sightings of northern invaders, we will hope for Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, and Evening Grosbeaks.
Unrestricted daylight parking is available all along Marlin Bay Road. Park near its intersection with Mystic Cove Road, at the head of a walking trail leading through the pines to the Brock Center, where restrooms and picnic tables are usually available after our morning walk. Marlin Bay Road intersects with Shore Drive at a stop light and a sign points the way to the preserve.
SATURDAY, February 23 - WINDSOR CASTLE PARK 310 Jericho Road, Smithfield - Meet 8:00 AM in the main parking lot.
It has been a couple of years since we visited this Park. Established in 2010, and consisting of 208 acres, Windsor Castle Park provides nearly 4 miles of walking trails. The trails are wide, fairly smooth and most accommodating which meets the Americans with Disabilities Act. We will walk through mature forested ravines, along tidal marshes (some with bridges), and next to open fields. Please join us to search for the resident birds (Cardinals, Towhees, Wrens, etc), lingering specialties (Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Blue-headed Vireo), and wintering species (Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, White-throated Sparrows). We will still be on the look-out for those elusive Evening Grosbeaks!
Directions to the Park: Once you reach Smithfield, turn onto South Church Street. Drive past Smithfield Station and turn left on Jericho Road. Jericho Rd is a small brick road nestled between two large homes and is easy to miss if you’re not careful. Follow Jericho Road, passing several old buildings that appear to be part of the park system but are marked, no access. You will eventually come to a clearing, then turn right on Dan Smith Rd. which will take you to the parking lot where we will meet.
The park does have primitive restroom facilities and a water fountain for people and dogs. Bring snacks and water to carry along on the walk. The trip should end around noon, and as typical of Cape Henry, we always make sure there are restaurants nearby, and there are several on Church and Main Streets.
SATURDAY, March 23 - GREAT DISMAL SWAMP NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Meet 8:00 AM in the main parking lot at the end of Jericho Lane.
A March visit to the swamp is one of our annual field trips in which we expect to walk down Jericho Ditch to see flowering Dwarf Trillium. We missed the trillium last year because of road damage, so if the winter weather is good to Tidewater, we will once again get to see this tiny, but perfect plant, blossoming along the edges of the dirt road.
If we have had winds from the south, the migrants will be on their way. Some early arrivals may include Louisiana Waterthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black and White Warbler, and more. Woodpeckers are generally starting to look for nesting spots, and we have a good chance of seeing Hairy, Downy, Pileated, Red-bellied, and Flicker. We should also be able to find Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Red-headed Woodpecker.
Birds are not the only creatures we look for in the Swamp. A few warm spring days will help to tune-up Spring Peepers, Brimley’s Chorus Frogs and Leopard Frogs. A calm-wind will certainly award us with Mourning Cloak or Comma butterflies. Of course, we always are on the lookout for bears, otters, and bobcats!
Directions: From Norfolk/Portsmouth area, follow I-64 or I-664 to Bower’s Hill, then proceed west into Suffolk on Rte 13/58/460. After passing the SPSA regional landfill, bear right to take the local exit to Suffolk, then turn south (left) onto Rte 337 (E. Washington Street). Proceed to the 2nd stop light and make a hard left turn onto White Marsh Road (Rte 642). Drive to Jericho Ditch Lane and meet at the parking lot at the end of the lane.
Field Trip Inclement Weather Policy
Since the Cape Henry Audubon Society outings have no scheduled rain dates, we try to conduct all of our field trips…rain or shine. For most weather conditions, this has worked well and will continue to be our goal. However, if on the night before a field trip, severe weather i.e. torrential rain, heavy snow, dangerous wind, flooding, etc. is forecast, and you have doubts about the trip being held, call 484-7398. If the field trip chair doesn’t answer, a recorded announcement will inform you of any changes or cancellations.