Bird and Wildlife Trail Monitoring Project Background and Update for Headwaters Master Naturalists 2022
From project coordinator Sandy Greene
What’s Not To Like?
It’s an approved project statewide, with our HMN chapter an early adopter of our three loops in Augusta and Rockingham Counties. The goals of the 2004 project, the first statewide program of its kind in the U.S., “celebrates our diverse natural habitat, with 400 species of birds, 250 species of fish, 150 species of terrestrial and marine mammals, 150 species of amphibians and reptiles and a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates”. Then-Governor Mark Warner introduced the project by saying it “will truly open the door to the Commonwealth’s exquisite natural wonders.”
Our overall charge: “to update, maintain and improve the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail”
Monitoring one or more sites on the VA Bird and Wildlife Trail is a Covid-proof project, with plenty of volunteer hours possible, but only a suggested minimum 10 minute visit each quarter.
It’s one click to report your volunteer hours on Better Impact.
Even if you are already a monitor, and you want to stay with your site, you can sign up for a year at a time, so you can do different sites each year.
You can go out when it suits you within each seasonal quarter.
We will provide the training and patient support (as we are learning ourselves!) for learning how to use eBird and iNaturalist, and the new CitSci reporting tool.
One Website has all the info we need:
The VMN Website has all the Scoop, the training videos, and all the links. Here is the path:
Documents and Resources
VA Bird and Wildlife Trail Adoption
I have clicked on some of those links for you, just to give you a taste of the rich resources available.
If you click on dwr.virginia.gov:
Where to View Wildlife
Discover Our Wild Side!
It’s easy to discover Virginia’s wild side with The Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail (VBWT), an organized network of outdoor sites highlighting the best places to see birds and wildlife in the Commonwealth. Walk a nature trail, paddle a river, or enjoy a scenic overlook to experience Virginia’s wealth of natural diversity, ranging from brown pelicans and bottlenose dolphins along our Atlantic Coast to bald eagles and black bear in the Appalachian Mountains. With 400 species of birds, 150 species of mammals, 150 species of amphibians and reptiles, 250 species of fish, plus hundreds of butterfly, dragonfly, and other invertebrate species, you’ll soon see why Virginia is a premier destination for birding and wildlife viewing.
As of January 2022, you can also find the blog post by Meg Raynes about her visits to the Lost Shoe and North River Loops. This is the first of her posts about all of Virginia’s BWT sites.
If you click on Mountain Region, and then North River Loop:
North River Loop Description
Heading west out of the Shenandoah Valley into the Allegheny Mountains reveals the towering white pines and hemlocks of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. As the mountains rise to meet West Virginia, the visitor encounters a series of reservoirs created from several tributaries of the Shenandoah River, where the North River eventually ends. These small lakes add to the diversity of habitats found along the loop and make for excellent wildlife watching. Traveling these quiet back roads could expose wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and perhaps black bear as they cross roads or come to lakes for a drink. The hills host numerous nesting wood warblers in spring while fall brings raptors cruising south along the ridgelines high above the Shenandoah Valley. The numerous small lakes require extra special attention during migration when a number of unusual species of waterfowl may appear.
If you click on Todd Lake:
- Todd Lake Recreation Area
|COVID-19 & the VBWT: Be Safe While OutdoorsDWR encourages you to be safe while outdoors. Before heading out, first check with individual sites on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail for any COVID-19 policies or closures. This information is typically posted on a site’s own website. Remember to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines while enjoying the outdoors.|
Elevation: 1968 ft.
Todd Lake Recreation Area has a few more facilities than most of the sites along this loop, making it an ideal spot to pitch a tent or park the trailer. The park has a bathhouse and a beach where visitors can take a refreshing dip in the lake or just relax on the beach and watch the clouds pass by overhead. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound around the lake, which hosts a variety of waterfowl and wading birds. Be on the look out for great blue heron, wood duck, blue-winged teal, spotted sandpiper and belted kingfisher. Bald eagle and osprey may also drop in from time to time. The neighboring woodland is worth searching for Appalachian songbirds such as eastern wood-pewee, blue-headed and red-eyed vireos, wood thrush and the exquisite scarlet tanager. Check the lakeshore for dragonflies, especially eastern amberwing, widow skimmer and common green darner. Butterflies are more widespread and may include pipevine and eastern tiger swallowtails, silver-spotted skipper, red-spotted purple and great spangled fritillary.
Location: Leading Ridge Rd, West Augusta, VA 24485
Coordinates: 38.3653900, -79.2086799
From Harrisonburg, VA: Travel south on State Route (SR) 42 passing through the town of Bridgewater. Continue for 3.2 miles to the intersection of SR 42 and 809/747 (at sharp left-hand turn). Turn right onto SR 809/747 and continue for 3.4 miles to a four-way stop sign in the town of Mt. Solon. Continue straight on SR 747 (Freemason Run Road) for 2.3 miles to a three-way stop sign. Continue straight on SR 747 (Freemason Run Road) for 1.0 miles to the intersection with SR 730 (Stokesville Road). Continue straight on SR 730 (Stokesville Road) for 1.3 miles to the intersection with SR 730 (North River Road. Continue straight on Route SR 718 (Stokesville Road) for 1.1 miles to the intersection of FR 95 and FR 101. Turn left onto FR 95 and travel 3.1 miles to Todd Lake Recreation Area on the right.
- Trail Loop: North River Loop
- Site Number: 09
Location & Directions
- Site Contact: U.S. Forest Service, North River Ranger District: 540-432-0187, email@example.com
- Access: Admission Fee ($5.00 per walk-in or vehicle), Open Daily Mid May – Mid October
Seasonal Bird Observations
- Bike Trails
- Hiking Trails
If you click on the Seasonal Observations Submitted to eBird:
|Date Range: |
Updated ~20 hr(s) ago.
KEY:| = insufficient data | = rare to widespread
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Now you go click on a site that interests you! Then sign up to monitor, and really go there!
Extra Credit for a Snow Day
If you are ready to sign up to monitor for 2022, then you can also click on CitSci.org for an advanced taste of our new reporting model. There are two video links at the original VMN website to start off our training. But don’t worry, all in due time!
We are a global citizen science support platform. We streamline citizen science so you can focus on designing and implementing projects for greater impact.
On CitSci, thousands of people engage in science through projects created by folks just like you. New projects are created all the time. Many gain insight and inspiration from your work and others. Have an idea for a new citizen science project? At CitSci, you’ll find tools to support your entire research process, from creating projects to managing participants; building custom data sheets; collecting data; sharing and analyzing data; and gathering feedback. We don’t just host citizen science projects; we transform citizen science into action.
– Sandy Greene, Cohort I, Bird and Wildlife Trails Monitoring project coordinator, January 2022
Take a Sampler Tour of our Bird and Wildlife Trail sites here:
It is split into three parts to accommodate Google slides file limit.
Thanks to Sandy Greene for creating this slide show!
Project history and overview from the VMN website:
About the Project
The Adopt-A-Trail (AAT) project is a way for the Virginia Master Naturalists to partner with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to update, maintain and improve the Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail (VBWT). The VBWT is a statewide driving trail composed of 65 loops connecting the best sites in Virginia for watching birds and other wildlife. It was established in three phases between 1999 -2004, with the goal of increasing awareness, appreciation and conservation of Virginia’s wildlife and native habitats. When it was completed in 2004, it was the first statewide trail of its kind in the country! All sites are marked with signage and a guide to the trail is available in print and electronically on DWR’s website at http://www.dwr.virginia.gov/vbwt/.
The last major update to the trail guide was completed in 2007, which means it is time for another update, but with 637 trail sites located throughout the Commonwealth, DWR could sure use some help! DWR is inviting chapters of Virginia Master Naturalists to “adopt” loops of the VBWT through the Adopt-A-Trail project.