Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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- Site Access: Free, Daily
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Site MSW10: Dan Daniel-Memorial Park Riverwalk
Elevation: 403 ft. The Dan River winds itself north out of North Carolina eventually joining the Roanoke River in the John H. Kerr Reservoir. The City of Danville straddles this river as well as derives its name from it. On the southwestern edge of city, Dan Daniel Memorial Park affords access to the woods and fields along this lovely river. The park is bisected by a riverside trail that provides access to numerous viewpoints along the river as well as some open forest and shrubby fields. The variety of open country and eastern woodland species found in the relatively small area help make this a prime area for wildlife watching. Birds in this area include mourning dove, yellow-billed cuckoo, chimney swift, ruby-throated hummingbird, red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, eastern wood-pewee, eastern kingbird, eastern bluebird, cedar waxwing, red-eyed vireo, indigo bunting, song sparrow, and eastern meadowlark. Careful observation can lead to interesting natural history. In mid-summer, once young birds have fledged and are beginning to fly, check family parties of American robins or eastern bluebirds for parasitic brown-headed cowbird chicks trying to get a free meal. The true excitement in the park is to be found on the river. Great blue and green herons stalk the shallows while purple martin and tree and barn swallows fly-catch overhead. The numerous exposed rocks on the river are outstanding for a variety of damselflies. Search for American rubyspot and powdered dancer or dragonflies such as eastern amberwing, widow skimmer and blue dasher. Carefully check the large boulders along the river's edge for retiring five-lined skinks. Butterflies are also well represented with hackberry emperor and pearl crescent filtered in among the more numerous eastern tiger and spicebush swallowtails.
From White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Area, return to the intersection of US 29 and Rt. 640. Go left on US 29 South for 10.2 miles and exit at River Park Road on the southern edge of Danville. Turn right and continue 0.4 miles to the parking area on the right. To return to a major road, return on River Park Road to US 29. From here, follow US 29 North to US 58 West and begin the Turkeycock Loop. Altavista Area Chamber of Commerce