Thursday, April 30, 2020

Plants and Birds at Ivy Creek Nature Center in the Spring

When moving into our house from out of town, we had no idea that a nature center was just a few miles down the road! Over the last 10 years we have watched Ivy Creek Nature Center add programs and develop its property (in a good way). Over the years they have restored a massive barn that is used for educational programs while also preserving the history of the property. They also have added a monster bird feeding station which entices so much wildlife. They have been broading the native plant area and now have a Butterfly Garden. Plants have begun to fill in and mature, giving a pretty show throughout the growing season.

Annual plant sale normally attracts tons of buyers
Various local groups meet year round in the Education Center and the annual native plant sale is housed in the barn. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has put a halt to meetings and lectures. The plant sale hosted by Jefferson Chapter of the Native Plant Society has been postponed to the Fall due to the coronavirus.

Sweet male bluebird on top of a feeding pole
Last week we strolled around the bird feeding area and native plant beds. It was so nice to sit on a bench and watch the numerous birds. Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, a few woodpecker species, bluebirds and other birds flew in and out. Squirrels and rabbits were also hopping around trying to get dropped food.

As you walk past the bird feeding station toward the Education Center, pathways are loaded with established native spring ephemerals, trees, and shrubs. If you continue to follow the path toward the open field to the right of the barn, you will find the more recently planted Butterfly Garden. Most plants are uncommon as native plants are not as widely sold by most nurseries but over the last several years there has been a mind change to plant natives to revive and attract wildlife. More nurseries are offering native plants and a relatively new nursery has opened in our neck of the woods, Hummingbird Hill Native Plant Nursery. It's located 20 miles from downtown Charlottesville in Free Union.

I feel the need to acquire some Golden Ragwort!
We usually walk the trails at Ivy Creek but it was my birthday and I wanted to take a quick drive over to monitor the Spring bloom of the plants. I actually found it quite relaxing to just sit and watch the birds and research the native plants using the provided identification guide. I realized it's a great spot for someone with a disability that can't hike or walk a long distances. One day I'm going to take a picnic as there are limitless great spots.

Go visit and consider making a donation online as funds must be diminishing now due to the stoppage of most programs.


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