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SHANNONDALE SPRINGS WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA (Sp,S)
General Description. Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area is a large parcel of land managed for hunting and other compatible uses by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. It is bordered by the Shenandoah River on the west and the Blue Ridge Mountains on the east. The area consists of two parcels. First, a 610-acre area consisting of a large neck of the Shenandoah River and a high ridge that extends to the south. Second, an upper area of 738 acres composed of mixed hardwoods recently selectively cut. While both areas have trails, it is the area and trail along the Shenandoah River that contains the prime birding habitat.
Seasonal Variations in Birding. The best birding in Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area is in the spring and early summer. Starting in April, a large number of migrants use the area, many of which remain to breed here. The area is a favorite habitat for Prothonotary, Yellow, and Yellow-throated Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, American Redstart, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula and Common Yellowthroat, together with other warbler varieties seen with less frequency. The river is home to Great Blue and Green Herons, Great Egret, Double-breasted Cormorant, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers. Occasionally Tundra Swan and several varieties of grebes use the river from late summer to early winter. Birding during the late summer and early fall is hot and bird activity tapers off early. Winter birding along the river will produce a variety of ducks and grebes, however the trail system along the river veers away from the basin after a few hundred yards and can only be viewed again by leaving the trail and heading to the river on a side trail.
Directions. The prime viewing area is on the trail that runs parallel to the Shenandoah River. It may be reached by taking new Route 9 east to old Route 9 east across the Shenandoah River approximately 1.2 miles to Mission Road. Take Mission Road approximately 2.2 miles to a sharp right turn marked with a brown sign showing river access. After starting the turn, the sign for Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area can be observed on the left. Follow this road across a small stream to the parking area adjacent to the boat launch site. The river can be observed at this point and the trail goes off to the left. The trail is roughly a mile long.
Specifics of the Route and Caution Required. The trail that runs parallel to the river is level and easy walking. After a few hundred yards, there are benches set out by the Friends of Shannondale Springs. Near the end of the trail are the remains of an old bathhouse from when the area was a resort in the late 19th century. Friends of Shannondale Springs mow the grass along the trail. At the end of the trail is a large meadow. During spring, before the grass grows, you can continue out into the meadow and have additional views of the river.
SHANNONDALE SPRINGS IS A WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA WITH HUNTING ALLOWED IN ALL AREAS. BIRDERS SHOULD CONSULT THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES WEBSITE FOR THE HUNTING SEASONS BEFORE PROCEEDING.
Caution: There can be large numbers of ticks in the grassy areas. Please dress appropriately and use insect repellent on your pant legs, shoes, and socks to deter the ticks from attaching to your clothing. Wearing knee-high rubber boots works very well in keeping the ticks at bay. Most of the ticks found here are the larger dog ticks but deer ticks are a distinct possibility. Be sure to check for ticks once you return home.