On August 11, 2016, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) hosted an early evening public stroll on their Brownsville Preserve located in Nassawadox, VA. Brownsville is the headquarters for TNC’s Virginia Coast Reserve. It is a beautiful property of over 1,000 acres near the water. On the property is a 3-mile trail known as the William B. Cummings Birding and Wildlife Trail. The trail winds through marshes, forests, grasslands, and tidal creeks.
TNC Land Protection Manager, Jim McGowan led the stroll along TNC Outreach and Education Coordinator, Margaret Van Clief. Before the stroll, Jim showed participants a map of coastal Virginia and provided an overview of TNC’s extensive land holdings that provide critical habitat for birds, especially migratory species. The area is also an important fish and shellfish habitat.
TNC’s Virginia Coast Reserve has 14 barrier islands along with mainland property, and works with private landowners to promote conservation. TNC is actively protecting the Virginia coastal areas through land acquisitions and conservation easements.
During the stroll, Jim and Margaret explained the history of Brownsville Preserve. We learned about the family that used to own the land and how TNC acquired the property. We walked through fields, wetlands, and an area with beautiful trees.
When we reached the former family house, we learned about how it is now used for TNC programs.
We eventually, made it to the shore where TNC docks two boats. These boats are used to take school children and others out on educational trips.
The Virginia Coast Reserve is a great spot for birding. According to TNC, at least 380 resident and migratory species have been found on the reserve. Although birding was not the focus of the stroll, TNC had binoculars to loan out to participants.
Egrets and ibises passed over head while we walked through the Brownsville Preserve. There were also Red-headed Woodpeckers and Great-crested Flycatchers taking advantage of some of the older trees on the property.