Osprey Watching at Fredericksburg City Dock

I can’t believe that I’ve lived in the area for several years and have never been to the Fredericksburg City Dock. This historic dock dates back to George Washington’s day. Directly across the river is Ferry Farm where George Washington grew up. During the Battle of Fredericksburg the Union army had to cross the Rappahannock River on pontoon bridges. The middle pontoon bridge was here at the city dock. Today the dock is used as a recreation point for many locals. Fishing is a favorite past-time off the dock.

A recent post from a neighbor on my neighborhood Facebook group made me decide to check out the city dock this month. This neighbor is into wildlife photography, and he wrote about an exciting opportunity to see wildlife in action.

Here’s what he had to say, “Currently the shad are running at full force in the Rappahannock and the Osprey are feasting. Of course, when the Osprey’s feast the Eagles come to steal their fish. If you want something exciting for the whole family to see you should come to City Dock in the late afternoon (any time after 3 pm is when the action picks up) and watch the Osprey. Bring lawn chairs if you plan to stay for a while.”

Saturday my daughter and I needed to kill an hour while the boys were at the IdeaSpace. We were downtown and decided to head to the city dock. We were there from 3-3:45 p.m. and were not disappointed. We were able to see a lot of fishermen in action, several birds and even an eagle pursuing an osprey! The chase was so exciting! We also met Gary the Goose. (You can buy duck food at Tractor Supply if you want to feed Gary. We also learned that ducks and geese can be fed cut seedless grapes, cooked rice, birdseed, peas, corn, oats and chopped lettuce.) We will definitely be back, and next time we’ll grab our binoculars.

If you want to see a good chase, you’ll have to head to the docks soon. The Osprey/Eagle action will continue until around the third week of April and then begin to slow down considerably. Another hot spot for Osprey and Eagles is Old Mill Park. If you have little ones, this park has a playground.

The Fredericksburg City Dock holds a lot of history. In Fredericksburg’s earliest days from the ferry landing on this side of the river, the direct route into town was straight up this lane. The retaining wall on the left is original.

Address: 207 Sophia St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Hours: Open all day, year-round.

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