Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MTJ02: Ivy Creek Natural Area
Elevation: 548 ft. Ivy Creek Natural Area is a 215-acre preserve located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Habitats vary from upland forest, pine stands, and open fields to shoreline. With 11 trails, including a handicap-accessible trail, this site offers nature enthusiasts numerous opportunities for viewing wildlife. Resident red-tailed, and red-shouldered hawks patrol these woods year-round. In the spring, look for a variety of songbirds migrating through, such as blue-winged and Tennessee warblers. Fall brings migrant blackpoll and bay-breasted warblers as well as hermit thrush. Nesting neotropical songbirds include prairie and pine warblers, indigo bunting, red-eyed and yellow-throated vireos, Louisiana waterthrush and scarlet tanagers. Along the edges, during migration, look for spotted and solitary sandpipers. Resident species include barred owl, pileated woodpecker, American crow, white-breasted nuthatch, Carolina wren and eastern towhee. Several species of salamanders, including the red-spotted newt, spring and northern red salamanders can be found beneath logs and rocks along spring-fed creeks. Upland chorus and northern cricket frogs take residence here, as does American toad and spring peeper. In addition to salamanders, several species of bats are known to inhabit these woodlands including eastern pipistrelle, evening bat, and big brown bat. White-tailed deer are abundant, and occasionally, black bear can be found rummaging through the woods. Martin's Branch is also a good place to look for mink. Dragonflies such as slaty and great spangled skimmers patrol the open water. Dancing butterflies flit about in colorful array; look for eastern tiger, spicebush, eastern black, and pipevine and zebra swallowtails, red-spotted purple, northern pearly-eye, hackberry emperor, monarch and its mimic, the viceroy.
From Ragged Mountain Natural Area, return to US 29 North. Travel north on US 29 for 5.6 miles (watch for the exit for US 29 North at the end of the bypass, 3.2 miles from I-64) to Rt. 631/Rio Road. Turn left onto Rt. 631/Rio Road; continue for 1.1 miles to Rt. 743/Earlysville Road. Turn right on Rt. 743/Earlysville Road and proceed 0.4 miles to Ivy Creek Natural Area on the left.