Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MIO02: Fenwick Mines
Elevation: 1407 ft. Offering a wheelchair accessible trail that winds through woods and across wetlands, Fenwick Mines is a pure treat to visit. This easy walk takes the wildlife watcher first into relatively young woodland that has grown back since the area was cleared for mining. This area rings with the sounds of woodpeckers with pileated, red-bellied and downy rarely staying quiet. Red-eyed vireo and wood thrush are also vocal members of the community. Forest undergrowth is smothered with fallen leaves making it difficult for anything to move around unnoticed. This makes finding eastern box turtles very easy as they plod along in the forest. After a few hundred yards the woods give way to a series of shallow ponds with a tremendous diversity of dragon- and damselflies. Here, common green darners, slaty and widow skimmers, blue dasher, eastern pondhawk, common whitetail are joined by less common species such as yellow-legged meadowhawk and Carolina saddlebags. Eastern phoebe can be seen patrolling the ponds, often perching on the railings of the numerous bridges, while brown thrasher stalk around the denser bushes. Be sure to carefully search the vegetated edges of the ponds for both eastern painted turtle and snapping turtle. These reptiles can be found sunning themselves or at least sticking their heads above water for a quick breath. The trail climaxes at an overlook of the marsh. This spectacular view presents a good example of how nature can return from a strained to a growingly stable ecosystem. Additional trails that are not handicap accessible continue down Mill Creek.
From the Craig's Creek Recreation Area at Oriskany, VA, return west on Rt. 817 to Rt. 615. Turn left and travel south 6.8 miles to Rt. 611. Turn right and go 0.1 miles to Rt. 685. Turn right and continue 1.3 miles to park on the right.