SATURDAY, March 24 - GREAT DISMAL SWAMP NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Meet 8:00 AM
A March visit to the swamp is one of our annual field trips in which we expect to walk down Jericho Ditch Lane to see flowering Dwarf Trillium. This year will be different.Unfortunately, Jericho Ditch is closed for the foreseeable future because of road damage.While we will miss the Trillium in its spring splendor, we will enjoy the morning by meandering down the boardwalk and road of Washington Ditch.
Migration seems to have started a little early this year with birds like Golden-winged Warblers showing up in Florida. While we don’t expect such a bird to be here by any means, you never know what might just come our way.Some of our early arrivals include Louisiana Waterthrushes, White-eyed Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Black and White Warblers, and more.Signs of nesting Woodpeckers are already being spotted and we have a good chance of seeing Hairy, Downy, Pileated, Red-headed, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Flicker.
Birds are not the only creatures we look for in the Swamp. With the recent rains and snow, there should be some wet areas along the boardwalk.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 past Jericho Ditch Lane for another 5 – 6 miles and turn on Washington Ditch.
We will meet in the parking lot and walk the boardwalk first. Bring snacks to munch on while we walk.Wear layers of clothing that can be peeled off as the sun warms the day.
SUNDAY, April 8 - DISMAL SWAMP CANAL TRAIL, CHESAPEAKE Meet 8:00 AM
Mid-April is prime time to see and hear many species of migrant and breeding birds in the Great Dismal Swamp. The City of Chesapeake’s Dismal Swamp Canal Trail is an easily accessible sample of the swamp’s habitat and features many of the birds that we most want to find in the swamp. Yellow-throated Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Northern Parula, Black and White Warbler, Ovenbird and Louisiana Waterthrush are all here. Lingering wintering birds and year-round resident birds will help fill the list.Morning Cloak and other butterflies are abundant and a variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals can be seen, as well. Utilizing the paved road bed of old Rte. 17, now closed to vehicular traffic, the Canal Trail is a safe spot to enjoy outdoor exercise and view exciting wildlife at the same time.
After walking down the trail, we may get into the vehicles and drive to Douglas Rd. Often, good birds show up along this secluded roadway.At the end of Douglas, the road intersects with the Canal Trail, so it’s all a good birding area.
Bring snacks and drinks for the walk. It’s always good to be prepared for mosquitoes, but we’ll hope for just a slight breeze and a sunny day.
The north trailhead parking lot is located at the intersection of Dominion Blvd. and Old Rte. 17 (George Washington Highway), about 3.5 miles south of Deep Creek. There should be ample parking early, but car-pooling is recommended since the trail is also popular with walkers, bicyclers, and horse-back riders and the lot could fill up fast.
SATURDAY, May 19 - OWL HOOT AT THE DISMAL SWAMP CANAL TRAIL, CHESAPEAKE Meet 7:00 PM
Last year, this trip was a great success. We learned about the stealth of an owl and listened to its evening serenade which at times, was a bit spooky. A Strix varia kept us quite entertained. We listened to their typical conversation with David asking who is cooking for whom. Eventually, the baritone voices (David and the owl’s) turned into ascending monkey-like chattering. The Bubo was a no-show, but we heard at least five of the robin-sized owls with ear tuffs. What owl species are we talking about? If you don’t know or remember from last year, you need to join us again.
We will be on the look-out for other creatures great and small as well. Maybe a bear, bobcat, or fox may visit as we meander down the road. A warm evening will treat us to the sounds of singing frog, and a bat flying overhead would be a welcoming sight.
To help ensure your safety, bring a flashlight with you to use for walking down the trail. However, do not use these lights to shine on the Owls or animals. Even though we’ll be starting the field trip near sunset, still bring your binoculars as they pull in the light. May evenings can still be quite chilly, so consider bringing some layers of clothing. You might want to bring a snack and water along on the hike with you.
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.