Natural History

Ivy Creek Natural Area is a 219-acre preserve located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Habitats vary from upland forest, pine stands, and open fields to shoreline. With 12 trails, including a paved trail, this site offers nature enthusiasts numerous opportunities for viewing wildlife. Resident red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks patrol these woods year-round.

In the spring, look for a variety of songbirds migrating through, such as blue-winged and Tennessee warblers. Fall brings migrant blackpoll and bay-breasted warblers as well as hermit thrush. Nesting neotropical songbirds include prairie and pine warblers, indigo bunting, red-eyed and yellow-throated vireos, Louisiana waterthrush and scarlet tanagers. Along the edges, during migration, look for spotted and solitary sandpipers. Resident species include barred owl, pileated woodpecker, American crow, white-breasted nuthatch, Carolina wren and eastern towhee.

Several species of salamanders, including the red-spotted newt, spring and northern red salamanders can be found beneath logs and rocks along spring-fed creeks. Upland chorus and northern cricket frogs take residence here, as does American toad and spring peeper. In addition to salamanders, several species of bats are known to inhabit these woodlands including eastern pipistrelle, evening bat, and big brown bat. White-tailed deer are abundant, and occasionally, black bear can be found rummaging through the woods. Martin’s Branch is also a good place to look for mink. Dragonflies such as slaty and great spangled skimmers patrol the open water. Dancing butterflies flit about in colorful array; look for eastern tiger, spicebush, eastern black, pipevine and zebra swallowtails, red-spotted purple, northern pearly-eye, hackberry emperor, monarch and its mimic, the viceroy. SOURCE: Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries


Flora and Fauna
The Forests of Ivy Creek Past, Present, and Future by Thomas A. Dierauf (2015 with 2020 appendix) (pdf)  (If you've already downloaded the main report, here is the appendix only.)


A Short History of Ivy Creek Natural Area

The story of Ivy Creek Natural Area starts in the fall of 1975 when Elizabeth (Babs) Conant was canoeing along a familiar stretch of Ivy Creek and saw red surveyor tape along the shoreline. Over the years, Babs had come to know Ivy Creek as an oasis of peace and wild creatures. She recognized the tranquil beauty of its mix of low floodplain and high bluffs and reveled in the diversity of wildlife she would encounter as she paddled its winding course.

Fearing the worst, Babs sprung into action and persuaded David Morine from The Nature Conservancy to come see the property. It didn’t take long for Morine to recognize the ecological importance of this threatened land – with its 80 acres of mixed forest and wetland, adjacent to 38 acres owned by the city with nearly 2 miles of shoreline. The reservoir, barely 10 years old, was already experiencing marked pollution, and the land surrounding it was zoned for high density residential development. On the basis of this threat and a hope that its preservation would stimulate protection of a larger area of the watershed through easements and gifts. TNC purchased the 80-acre farm for $175,000 using a Revolving Fund and named it the Rann Preserve.

Read the rest of the story in The Ivy Creek Chronicles. (pdf)