The Rappahannock River
The Essex Inn
203 Duke Street, Tappahannock
4037 Menokin Road, Warsaw
Lowery’s Seafood Restaurant
528 North Church Street, Tappahannock
The teachers develop and take home experiences that improve
student engagement, critical thinking, and environmental
stewardship. And, based on their specific students and
curriculum focus, each experience is tied up nicely with a
driving question like “What does the Bay contribute to our
local water quality and vice versa?”
That day on the Jenny S, our group was collecting data—
including the number of bald eagles—on the Rappahannock
near Tappahannock and Fones Cliffs.
The Rappahannock, considered one of the most scenic rivers
in the Chesapeake Bay system, originates in the Blue Ridge
Mountains and flows southeast to Fredericksburg where it
becomes a brackish tidal estuary until it meets the Chesapeake.
At the town of Tappahannock, the river is more than a mile
wide. The peninsula below the river is known as Virginia’s
Middle Peninsula and the one above as the Northern Neck.
On the Northern Neck above Tappahannock is Fones Cliffs,
a four-mile-long cliff formation. This threatened, forested
stretch of the Rappahannock is one of the bald eagle’s most
important convergence areas in eastern North America. CBF
is working hard to save this land—along with its bald eagles
and the river’s water quality—from development as a high-end
resort and golf course.
The bald eagle Jimmy spotted was one of 40—yes, 40—adult
and juvenile of the species we counted around Fones Cliffs.
And, we saw several other bird species that day, including
a peregrine falcon, a kingfisher, even a hummingbird that
buzzed our stern.
To measure biodiversity below the river’s surface, we pulled
up crab pots and a dragged a trawl net, finding blue crabs,
perch, and other critters. The day’s catch prompted CBF
Education Outreach Communications Coordinator Norah
KATIE LEAVERTON/CBF STAFF
The ecological benefits of Fones Cliffs, a sensitive cliff formation on
the Rappahannock, are being threatened by development.
BILL PORTLOCK/CBF STAFF
“There is a large breeding population of
bald eagles along the Rappahannock
River, and Fones Cliffs plays a significant
role as a nexus of eagle movement in
eastern North America.”
—Bill Portlock, CBF Senior Educator
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