Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: Liz Peaden or Shawn Reyburn; (434) 736-2972, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Free, daily sunrise to sunset. Church property is just the clearing around the church.
Site PRM02: Briery Presbyterian Church and Headwaters of Briery Creek
The Briery Presbyterian Church has stood on this site for hundreds of years, although the springs of Briery Creek have bubbled from the ground for much longer. These waters flow north to form Briery Creek and eventually flow into the James River. The Briery Presbyterian Church was officially founded in 1755 by the Rev. Robert Henry. The building standing today is believed to have been designed by Rev. R. L. Dabney, who also designed the church at Hampden Sydney College. It was dedicated in 1856. The congregation was combined in 1980 with the Keysville church to become one united congregation under the name of Briery. The church is located in a small opening amongst the mixed deciduous forest, making it an ideal spot for wildlife. Access to the Sanctuary is available by calling ahead. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are ideal viewing times when white-tailed deer and their fawns venture out from cover to graze on the church's lawn. Also watch for wild turkeys as they lead their young carefully through the grounds, cautious of the local foxes that may be spying on them. Along the woods, the sounds of red-shouldered hawks can be heard mingled with the heavy banging of pileated woodpeckers and the tiny trumpets of white-breasted nuthatches. Spring is a fruitful time for this site, when dozens of brilliantly colored warblers pass through these woods on migration, along with striking scarlet tanagers. Check around the bubbling spring for the subtle fluttering of little wood satyrs, and check the puddles in the parking lot for eastern tiger swallowtails and red-spotted purples.
Leaving the summit, go northwest on US 15 for 1.5 miles to Rt. 654. Turn left (west) onto Rt. 654 and follow this road 0.1 miles to Rt. 747. Turn right (north) on Rt. 747 and follow it for 0.2 miles to Briery Presbyterian Church. Please remain on the church property (open areas around the church) as adjacent woodlands are private property.