9-11 June 2017 - VSO Summer Field Trip to Blacksburg

The New River Valley Bird Club will host the VSO summer field trip June 9-11, 2017, featuring some of the best birding areas in the New River Valley and Southern Appalachians. The varied topography and the river valley offer a wide variety of habitats and bird species. Field trips will be offered Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. Bill Akers and Jerry Via will be our trip leaders, and they have organized some terrific activities for us!

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak


To help us plan for the weekend, please register in advance. Provide the names of participants in your party with a telephone number and email address so we can contact you if needed. Register with Meredith Bell, trip coordinator, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824-4958.

Please bring FRS (two-way) radios if you have them to stay in contact in our caravans when calling out bird sightings.


Holiday Inn Express and Suites Blacksburg is the host hotel (This is the same hotel as the 2015 trip, now under new ownership). The special rate for the VSO block of rooms is $95/night (plus tax) for single or double. Double and King beds are available, and some suites have pull-out beds. There are microwaves and refrigerators in all rooms. Register by Friday, MAY 8, to get the special rate: (540) 552-5636. Hotel address is 1020 Plantation Road, Blacksburg, VA24060


A complimentary hot breakfast buffet is included with your stay, beginning at 6:30 AM on Friday and 7:00AM on Saturday and Sunday. You’ll need to bring lunch for Saturday. (There’s a convenient store next to the hotel.) Dinners are on your own. There are many excellent restaurants in Blacksburg.


FRIDAY, JUNE 9 (approximately 35-minute drive)

Meet at 1:30pm in the hotel lobby for departure to Mountain Lake. We’ll start at the Biological Station, where target birds include Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Black-capped Chickadee. From there we’ll go to an area of rhododendrons near Mountain Lake Lodge, where we’ll look for Canada and Black-throated Blue Warblers.


7:45 AM - Departure for Glen Alton and Kelly Flats (approximately 45-minute drive)

This is a full day trip, so be sure to bring lunch, snacks and beverages.

Once at our destination, we will divide into two groups and alternate visits to both areas. 

Glen Alton is an estate now owned by the Jefferson National Forest. It is unusual because the elevation is 2,600 feet, but some of the birds there are normally found at much higher elevations.  There are many beautiful trails along a stream, fish ponds and beaver pond. The walking is level and easy. Specialties include Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo and Brown Creeper. 

Kelly Flats includes a small bog and a walk along a fire road. This trail requires walking up a hill, but we’ll cover it at a slow pace. Highlights will be Red-breasted Nuthatch, Scarlet Tanager, Acadian Flycatcher and singing Hermit Thrush.   

After Lunch

We’ll visit other areas in the New River Valley in search of species like Golden-winged, Hooded and Kentucky Warblers.  

6:00 PM - Tally of species, 1st floor hotel conference room

Dinner on your own


7:45 AM - Departure for nearby areas in Blacksburg

Plans are still being finalized for the specific destinations Sunday morning, but they will be near the hotel for ease of checking out.

If you have any questions, contact field trip coordinator Meredith Bell at (804) 824-4958 or merandlee@gmail.com