Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Seasons: All
- Site Contact: County Naturalist, (804) 318-8735, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Daily, 8 a.m. - sunset
- Visit Website
Site CAP03: Henricus Park/ Dutch Gap Conservation Area
The park entrance road follows along the shoreline of Aikens Swamp where two observation platforms provide easy wildlife viewing. From late fall through late winter, visitors can observe a diversity of waterfowl such as northern shovelers, ring-necks, gadwalls, widgeons and blue-winged teals. In early spring, the songs of chorus frogs, spring peepers, cricket frogs, and American toads erupt from the swamp. Green and gray tree frogs follow the chorus into summer. Early spring brings osprey and yellow and prothonotary warblers. Rare sightings include the least bittern and gallinule. Throughout the year, visitors can view bald eagles, barred owls and red-shouldered hawks. Common mammal sightings include muskrats and beavers. Rarer sightings include river otter and mink. Snapping, painted, mud and spotted turtles can be viewed as well. Visitors can also hike or bike the Dutch Gap Trail that starts next to the Henricus Visitor Center. The first half-mile takes visitors along a tidal wetlands and meadow. American goldfinches, eastern bluebirds, blue grosbeaks, eastern phoebes and sparrow hawks can be observed in the meadow and along the fence line. Many aquatic species such as kingfishers, great blue herons and great egrets can be observed in the wetlands. At the half-mile post, the trail splits to form a 3.5-mile circuit trail that circumnavigates the entire Tidal Lagoon. Many other aquatic species, such as gulls, terns, cormorants, and red-wing blackbirds, can be observed in the Tidal Lagoon. Between mileposts 3.4 and 3.5, a heron rookery can easily be observed in the tidal lagoon before the trees leaf out. Ospreys are common from spring through summer, and bald eagles can be observed year-round. Almost the entire section of the 3.5-mile circuit passes through a bottomland forest where turkey and white-tailed deer forage. During the summer, tiger swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail and silver-spotted skippers can be viewed. Zebra swallowtails can be seen around the patches of pawpaw. Dragonfly species such as eastern pondhawks, common whitetails, golden-winged skimmers and eastern amberwings can been seen throughout the summer and early fall.
Exit Pocahontas State Park via Beach Road; drive to SR 10/Hundred Street and go east/right for 7.4 miles. Cross I-95, turn left at the first stop signal, Old Stage Road, and travel 2.0 miles. Turn right at the stop sign and continue 0.7 miles and turn right into the entrance marked by the Henricus Park sign. Physical Address: 341 Henricus Park Road, Chester, VA 23836.