Just over an hour south of Richmond, off Route 460 in Sussex county, The Nature Conservancy owns a 3,200-acre tract called Piney Grove. The pine-savanna habitat is home to the the northernmost breeding population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the U.S. The 44 or so birds at Piney Grove are also the only RCWs (a federally endangered species since 1970) in Virginia. I had the chance to go down there Monday morning to join some scientists with TNC and the Center for Conservation Biology as they attempted to band the recently-hatched chicks for further study. Piney Grove and the RCWs will be the subject of my Friday column, but I thought I’d pass this pic along now. It’s just too cool not to share.
One neat feature of Piney Grove, unlike some TNC properties, is that public has access. There’s an interpretive trail, the Constance Darden Nature Trail (open from from February through October) that anyone can use to get an overview of TNC’s work at the preserve “to restore pine-savanna habitat for the benefit of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers and myriad other plants and animals.”
It’s an easy trip down Route 460 from Richmond and absolutely worth the drive.