A visit to the Great Dismal Swamp is not at all what you would expect. It contains many of the most significant wildlife in the mid-Atlantic region and fascinating glimpses of swamp and native birds and grasses. It covers 113,000 acres and is the remnant of a swamp that once covered over a million acres. It was once the home of “freedom seekers”, known as marroons that once lived deep within this swamp.
The day we visited was cold and very overcast, so we took the Wildlife Drive to travel to see Lake Drummond, which was a great idea in retrospect since most of the boardwalk trails were covered with snow and ice. Trying to walk proved dangerous so back to the truck and the drive out to Lake Drummond.
The clouds with the sun peeking through created what I call “the Holy Ghost effect.” The vertical rays remind me of childhood photos from my church classes.
Lake Drummond is 3100 acres and the largest natural lake in Virginia, formed 4000 years ago as a result of a severe that burned away feet of peat soil. The water is a dark brown color as a result of the ground water perking like coffee through the peat soil. The winds of the day created white (really brown) caps and waves. There are canals through the Dismal Swamp canals flowing from the lake, along the eastern boundary of the refuge.
There have been 210 birds identified on the refuge, including geese, ducks, turkeys, herons, egrets, vultures, bald eagles, hawks, falcons, plovers, doves, cuckoos, owls, kingfishers, woodpeckers, flycatchers, swallows, chickadees, nuthatches, thrushes, warblers, towhees, cardinals, blackbirds and finches. The only birds I saw were vultures and swallows.