Wildflower Hunting and Birdwatching

April 27, 2022
Stories , Outdoors

Quick! The weather’s getting warm, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are on their spring migration. Take advantage of this time before the trees leaf out completely to make use of your spotting scopes and cameras. Rock your nature walk by heading to these spots that boast spectacular birdwatching and wildflower hunting.

 

Wildflowers

 

 

The Shenandoah Valley is gorgeous any time of the year, but a good way to make those distant mountains pop is by getting some wildflowers in the frame. The wildflower season stretches from early spring to late in the fall. Here are some of our favorite spots.

 

The Ridgeview Park nature trails are a nice way to breathe the spring air while in the city. Cross the footbridge for a birds’ eye view of the South River and explore the paths winding through the woods. Check out this guide for detailed descriptions of the flowers you’ll encounter along the trail. You’ll also find spring blooms in the Botanical and Serenity gardens. Near downtown and next to Constitution Park, the Blue Ridge Children's Museum has built a Natural Playground, which is home to a recently planted Native Plant Learning Meadow. 

 

Shenandoah National Park’s underrated showstopper is its wildflower display, which lasts from March until the fall. You can identify over 850 different native species along the trails and in the park’s mountain meadows. Here’s a calendar of what’s in bloom. April flowers include spiderwort, moss phlox, jack-in-the-pulpit, lady’s slipper, redbud, violets, and more.

Wildflower weekend: May 14, 2022. Go on a hike with an experienced naturalist and learn the science behind spring’s beautiful displays. You’ll also learn about birds, vernal pools, and other spring ecosystems. Programs are free for adults and children who have paid park admission.

 

You get to look at the flowers and pick them, too, at Pebble Hall Wildflowers. This farm treats visitors to stunning views and lets them create their own seasonal arrangements to take home. Spend a wonderful spring day exploring over an acre of mixed flowers, eating a picnic, and watching the kids play in the fairie garden. Here’s a schedule of what’s in bloom each month.

 

A nearby spot to make your home base for your wildflower hunting adventure is Cider House Bed & Breakfast. This B&B is ideally situated on a lovely farm with plenty of room to explore, including lawn games, a young orchard with native wildflowers as landscaping, and even donkeys and alpacas to feed.

 

Peonies aren’t considered a wildflower, but we’d be remiss to leave this gem off our list. From roughly the middle of May through the end of May, peonies are in peak bloom here in the Valley, and there is a beautiful peony field just outside of town where you can pick your own, and it’s definitely an Insta-worthy photo op! Keep checking Shenandoah Peonies’ Facebook page for more information on dates and times.

 

If you don’t feel like hunting your own flowers, Jacqueline’s Fresh Cut Flowers will be a vendor at the Waynesboro Farmers’ Market!

 

Waynesboro Birding Hotspots

 

 

Spring is a great time of year to add birdwatching to your activity list. According to ebird.com, here are the best places in and near Waynesboro to channel your inner ornithologist.

 

Not only is Ridgeview Park good for wildflowers and recreation, it’s also one of the best spots around to see birds. Birders report 151 species, including recent sightings of northern harriers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, downy woodpeckers, eastern phoebes, golden-crowned kinglets, peregrine falcons, and red-tailed hawks.

 

Coyner Spring Park has wooded trails and an open meadow, and is good for seeing a variety of species. 110, in fact. Recent sightings include northern flickers, eastern towhees, ospreys, brown-headed cowbirds, red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks, winter wrens, brown thrashers, swamp sparrows, and pine warblers.

 

Make a quick stop at local secret Invista Pond to see 121 total species including recent sightings of Canada geese, mallards, great egrets, black-crowned night herons, downy woodpeckers, Carolina wrens, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and red-tailed hawks.

 

The South River Greenway and Constitution Park are great for a stroll or a bike ride. You’ll also find good birding with almost 100 species spotted here. Look for the brown-headed cowbirds, palm warblers, great blue herons, common goldeneyes, pied-billed grebes, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

 

If you’re near Mulberry Run Constructed Wetland, be on the lookout for 91 species including mallards, mourning doves, killdeer, northern flickers, fish crows, tree swallows, and European starlings. Eagle’s Nest and Ivy Street Ponds each boast 95 species including trumpeter swans and blue-winged teal.

 

You’ll see more than views at McCormick Gap Overlook in Shenandoah National Park. 61 species including golden-crowned kinglets, northern flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers, ovenbirds, and northern parula have been spotted there.

 

The Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch gets a lot of attention during migratory periods, typically September, as teams of birders watch the sky and maintain an official report. Admire the incredible view surrounding you of the valleys below. Look for the 184 species that have been spotted here including black-crowned night-herons, peregrine falcons, sharp-shinned hawks, Nashville warblers, and cooper's hawks.

 

The Humpback Rocks Visitor Center doesn’t require much hiking to explore the mountain farm exhibit and catch glimpses of some of the 125 bird species sited here. Watch for eastern phoebes, eastern bluebirds, Baltimore orioles, barn swallows, worm-eating warblers, and blue-gray gnatcatchers.

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