March 23, 2014 · 11:00 AM
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This is a 5 mile "urban wildlife" hike.
The natural areas along the James River provide a sanctuary for a wide variety of wildlife species that one would never expect to see in a city. Bald eagles, otters, muskrats, osprey and even a heron rookery are unexpected treats in the middle of the city. The river has sturgeon over six feet long and blue catfish that weigh over 50 pounds.
In March - May anadromous fish such as the hickory shad and herring fill the river as they migrate from saltwater to freshwater on their annual spawning runs. We may be lucky enough to observe the birds prey on these fish.
From the Pipeline Rapids walkway, or Pipeline Trail, we have a view of the Great Blue Heron Rookery on Vauxhall Island. There were no nests in 2006, four in 2007 and 34 in 2008. How many will we count in 2014? The month of February saw courtship and nest building activities. In March they are taking turns sitting on their eggs. We will see them feed their young in the nests in April and May. June will find the youngsters feeding in the river with their parents. As the summer progresses, the juveniles will form feeding flocks and the parents separate. Thus, every season is peak viewing season, so bring your camera!
From our meeting point, we'll head west, then gain access to Belle Isle from the 22nd Street entrance. We will cross Belle Isle, exiting by the pedestrian footbridge to the north shore of the James. Then we will turn east, head across Brown's Island, take the Pipeline Trail past the Heron Rookery and cross the Mayo Bridge back to the south side of the river. Turning west, we'll hike along the floodwall and back to the Legend parking lot.
The terrain is dirt, gravel and paved road, with a minimum amount of rocks and boulders.
No dogs allowed on the Pipeline Trail due to the narrow walkway and five foot ladder.
Optional: Après hike lunch at Legend Brewing Co.
Contact #: I will email my cell number to the attendees one day in advance.