Birding Adventure in the High Country

Birding Adventure in the High Country

6 kids went on a gravity-defying adventure in the high country participating in BRDC’s inaugural Ornithology Camp. For four days and three nights, the kids camped out and honed their ornithology skills, searching for bird species that inhabit the diverse appalachian ecosystems of southwest Virginia.

Searching for Big Red

Searching for Big Red

For the Spring Naturalist Rally, Austin Thomas and I set out with a group in search of Big Red- a very large red spruce that is the second largest of that species recorded in Virginia. The rain cleared out and we had partly cloudy skies when we set the GPS coordinates for Big Red. With measurements of 77 inches circumference, 108 feet height and crown 26 feet recorded in 2010, our group was excited to stand at the base and take current measurements to update the tree's current status. 

Mount Rogers Spring Naturalist Rally

Mount Rogers Spring Naturalist Rally

Although the weather kept some away, the 43rd annual Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally drew a large crowd of enthusiastic participants during the second weekend in May.  Field trips on Saturday included several new opportunities such as Caving, Intro to Birding and Ecology of Grassy Balds, while many of the tried and true trips from the past also remained popular.  With the rain giving way to cloudy skies and even a little bit of sunshine, conditions were wet but good for the hearty naturalist who didn’t mind a little mud.

The Appalachian Forest, A Search For Roots and Renewal

The Appalachian Forest, A Search For Roots and Renewal

For May, the BRDC Book Club read The Appalachian Forest, A Search For Roots and Renewal by Chris Bolgiano.  "Steeped in history, the Appalachian wilderness has been profoundly affected by the people who have lived and worked there. This volume traces the natural history of the Appalachian forest while taking into account the people and politics that have shaped its development. Bolgiano is well qualified to write about this area, as she and her husband make their home on 100 acres of the old-growth forest. 

Galax Middle Visits Grandfather Mountain

Galax Middle Visits Grandfather Mountain

On May 6th, students from Galax Middle School took a trip up 5,946’ to the top of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. There they had the opportunity to learn about the various flora and fauna that inhabit the mountains’ 16 distinct ecosystems.

Wilderness Backpacking Camp June 27-July 1

Wilderness Backpacking Camp June 27-July 1

One of the most rewarding opportunities of the summer is discovering more of the Blue Ridge in the company of exceptional guides on this multi-day backpacking expedition. On the trail, you’ll observe and document the wildlife we encounter along the way, including unique birds, trees, plants, insects, mushrooms, salamanders, and many others.

Still time to apply for an Ornithology Camp Scholarship!

Still time to apply for an Ornithology Camp Scholarship!

BRDC's Ornithology Camp, for kids ages 9-12, offers 4 days and 3 nights all about birds: eagles, warblers, herons, wrens, woodpeckers, owls, thrushes and more!! The camp, which is funded through the William Roberts Memorial Fund and volunteer support, runs Wednesday-Saturday, June 7-10, and includes all meals and snacks.  

Explorers Go Underground

Explorers Go Underground

BRDC's Explorers Club recently travelled to Speedwell to explore underground with expert caver Bill Grose. When the group climbed down into the cave entrance, they found themselves in a wild, seemingly uncharted world. The air was immediately cooler (which is why everyone dressed in layers) and all natural light disappeared. Stalactites hung above like chandeliers.

Early Spring Wildflowers on the New River Trail

Early Spring Wildflowers on the New River Trail

On Easter Saturday, 23 people joined Blue Ridge Discovery Center’s Explorers Club for our annual wildflower walk on the New River Trail. The 57-mile trail is the state’s “most narrow state park,” and the section between Low Water Bridge near Fries and Fries Junction, where a 12-mile spur trail heads to Galax, is a special spot for early spring wildflowers. Hike leader Carol Broderson briefly discussed the history of botanizing in Virginia and the fate of the “great forest” that covered the Appalachians. 

Mt Rogers Spring Naturalist Rally May 12-14!

Mt Rogers Spring Naturalist Rally May 12-14!

Three days of exploration & discovery for all ages!  

Bring your family and celebrate Mother's Day in the most beautiful place on Earth.  There is something for the entire family to enjoy with an expert speaker Friday Night, trips Saturday and Sunday, and nighttime programs at the campground. Topics include salamanders, wildflowers, geology, birding, cultural history, mammals, medicinal plants, natural history and much, much more! 

Species Spotlight: Sassafras

Species Spotlight: Sassafras

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is blooming now in the Blue Ridge.

Sassafras is a member of the Lauraceae family. This family is characterized by having woody stems, simple leaves, and actinomorphic (star-shaped) flowers that are typically bisexual. A a rather small tree, it is commonly found in early successional habitat such as fence lines and field edges all throughout Virginia.

Learning about Amphibians & Aquatic Insects

Learning about Amphibians & Aquatic Insects

BRDC has been busy with education programs, working with Galax Middle School, Fries School, Fairview Elementary, Grayson Highlands, Independence Elementary.

Grayson County's fourth grade students participated in the Natural Heritage Program with an emphasis on salamanders, toads, and frogs. Students learned about salamanders commonly found in the Blue Ridge.