Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: Albemarle County Parks & Recreation Department; (434) 296-5823, ext. 3338
- Site Access: Free, open daily
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Site PJR04: Howardsville Boat Landing
The boat landing at Howardsville not only provides access to the James River, it also supports an exciting patch of woodland virtually teeming with birds. Upon arrival, check the river for roosting herons, egrets and waterfowl. Wood ducks are likely to show up year-round, while hooded and common mergansers, common goldeneye and other diving ducks could appear in the winter months, depending on how iced-up the river is. The small creek that opens into the James, just upstream from the boat landing, is a good spot to search for eastern phoebes. The boat landing area is usually alive with American crows and their typical antics, occasionally joined by the bigger and hoarser common raven. Check the larger trees around the boat landing for red-bellied woodpeckers, and in winter, yellow-bellied sapsuckers. In addition to their inherent grandeur, these trees are worth giving particular attention to during migration when scarlet tanagers, American redstarts and a variety of other neotropical migrants stopin to join the resident northern cardinals and Carolina chickadees. With its location on the water, the area is also worth searching for dragon- and damselflies, such as American rubyspots and eastern amberwings. Also check for butterflies such as pearl crescent, red-spotted purple and the confusingly similar question mark and eastern comma.
From James River WMA, return to Rt. 626/Howardsville Road and turn right. Follow Rt. 626 for 7.0 miles to Howardsville. Turn right on Rt. 602/Howardsville Turnpike and proceed 0.1 miles to the boat landing.