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(BLOOMERY AND JOHN RISSLER ROADS) (Sp,S,W)
General Description. Bloomery and John Rissler roads run along the Shenandoah River just east of Charlestown. The river and its adjacent riverine habitat are bordered along one side by the road and woodlands and some open meadows. Much of the area is in private ownership but that does not prevent good opportunities to observe birds both on the river and in the adjacent shrubs and trees.
Seasonal Variations in Birding. Bloomery and John Rissler roads offer good birding opportunities in the Spring, early Summer and Winter. Many migrants pass through this area while a number of species stop to breed. These include many varieties of warblers, including Prothonotary, Yellow-throated, and Yellow Warblers, Northern Parula, Yellow-breasted Chat and Louisiana Waterthrush. Besides the warblers, Red-eyed, White-eyed and Warbling Vireos are found in good numbers, along with Wood Thrush, Robin, American Redstart, Indigo Bunting and other passerines. Birding in late Summer and Fall can be hot with bird activity tapering off in the early morning. The area is also a prime spot for birding in the Winter, with abundant waterfowl, including Mallard, Black Duck, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Greater and Lesser Scaup, other ducks and several varieties of grebes.
Directions. Leave Charlestown driving east on Rt 340 approximately 2.2 miles to Blair Road. Turn right on Blair Road and follow it down to the Shenandoah River. Turn right onto Bloomery road and bird along the way at the pull-off areas alongside the road. Popular areas along the way are the River Outfitters at the junction of Blair and Bloomery Road, the recreation area at the power station, the boat launch site after driving through the tunnel after the power station (the “S”curve) and the Moulton Park launch site. After birding Bloomery Road, cross Rt. 9 to John Rissler Road, where one can bird for approximately one mile before reaching a private driveway. The gravel drive into a concrete pumping and gaging station is a good area to observe waterfowl in the river and towards the Rt. 9 bridge over the river.
Specifics of the Route and Caution Required. This can be a very busy route, especially during the week with large numbers of commercial trucks hauling gravel from the pit at Blair and Bloomery roads. To ensure safety, only bird after pulling completely off the road and maintain good vigilance regarding oncoming motor vehicles. Most of the areas on the upland side of the road are private property so one should be careful not to trespass or to seek permission if necessary.