As we head into Spring, I know everyone's calendar gets filled pretty quickly, but please keep a few things in mind. Check out our website from time to time to get updates on our field trips and workshops. This year on May 7, we'll be doing several joint bird walks on International Bird Migration Day with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. Bill Brown and Jay Hadlock will lead one in Algonkian Park and I'll be co-leading another at the Phillips Farm in Waterford so come on out! Also, don't forget that the Virginia Society of Ornithology will hold its annual meeting May 13-15, 2011 in Harrisonburg located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and hosted by the Rockingham Bird Club. You'll find further information on our website. And, if you're not a member of the VSO, you ought to think of becoming one, it's a great organization.
Clean water sounds like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how difficult it is to generate cooperation on initiatives such as the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (CBPO). We, as part of a broader Choose Clean Water Coalition, comprised of many environmental organizations, regularly advocate before local governments and the state assembly on the need for clean streams and riparian buffers and also participate in technical advisory committees established by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Much of our effort over the past several years has been centered in Fairfax County which has adopted the CBPO, but it turns out that Loudoun County is still a holdout and the issue remains before the Loudoun Board of Supervisors for a vote later in the Spring. For those of you interested or living out there, you may want to visit Loudoun Clean Streams Coalition for more information.
Stay in touch, Bruce
Don't Let Spring Pass You By
So much happens in nature during the spring and it all goes by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday, early March, when I heard my first wood frogs of the season calling for mates. Already the peak of spring ephemeral wildflowers is rushing by as the canopy leafs out and returns deep shade to the forest floor.
My list of spring migrants is still slim, with only phoebe, Louisiana waterthrush, and palm warbler so far, but it will soon swell with many more species. I hope my list will peak during the ASNV Birdathon (I’m accepting pledges now – firstname.lastname@example.org; see Bill Brown’s article in this issue or go to www.audubonva.org for more information). Before we know it, the river of birds that is spring migration will have reached their nesting sites and the heat of summer will settle in for the duration soon after.
With so little time to spare, I’m keeping this month’s column short. Of course, I hope you’ll spend some time in your garden creating habitat for wildlife with native plants, a brush pile, or even a wildlife pool – and looking for Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary species. But I also urge you to get out to a local natural area and just spend some time with no agenda other than to take in the phenomena of spring while there’s still time.
2011 ASNV Birdathon -- Register Now!
Looking for a great excuse to go birding with a few friends during the peak of neotropic bird migration? Then get a team together for the ASNV Birdathon, to be held between April 30 and May 15. Birders of all levels participate and decide for themselves how long to spend in the field – an hour, or up to a full day. See just how many species you can locate, while you help raise needed funds for ASNV’s conservation and education programs. Participating is fun and signing up is easy. Learn how at our website.
Don’t have time to go birding? Well, you can still participate by pledging to support one of the teams that will be out there. Vist our website to make your pledge. Your chapter thanks you.
Wood Thrush Survey
Wood thrush is the official state bird of the District of Columbia. Range-wide, it has lost more than half its population over the past 45 years. While still a common migrant through DC, wood thrushes are increasingly rare as breeding birds. They still breed in Rock Creek, Fort DuPont, and Glover-Archbold Parks.
To celebrate the official bird of DC and the importance of forested parks in DC, Greg Butcher is planning a series of bird walks, citizen science projects, and outreach efforts from April 15 through June 30. He is planning a bird walk every Saturday morning in one of the three parks mentioned above, plus a few Wednesday evening walks. From April 15 through May 15, he will collect data on the use of trees and food items by migrating wood thrushes and other forest birds using a “habitat oasis” protocol.
He needs help from botanists who know the woody plants of DC as well as birders. From May 25 through the end of June, he will conduct a Bird Blitz in the three parks, documenting the nesting of Wood Thrushes and other Forest Interior Dependent Species (FIDS) in the three parks named above, using methods developed by Audubon Maryland/DC. Volunteers who can identify breeding birds by sight and sound will be asked to walk mile-long routes in these parks and mark the location of birds.
Learn more about the survey -- and how you can help -- online.
Upcoming Field Trips
Registration is not required unless noted. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or email@example.com for more information. Participants should dress for the weather and bring binoculars. Visit our website for more information about these and other upcoming field trips.
Bright Pond, Reston
Sunday, May 1, 7:30 - 10:30 AM
Always a popular spot in springtime, this natural area in the midst of residential development is a magnet for arriving songbirds. Andy Rabin will lead the walk, which is co-sponsored with Reston Association and The Bird Feeder. Come early for coffee and goodies. For directions and additional information, click here.
Fraser Preserve, Great Falls
Saturday, May 7, 7:30 AM
Registration required: contact Kathy Berger at 703-725-9892 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
This Nature Conservancy property has rushing stream, upland forest, bottomland forest, meadow and the Potomac River, with opportunities for many birds, plus insects, reptiles and amphibians. Kathy Berger, Glen Gerada, and Ed Clark will lead. Be prepared for a 4-mile hike with muddy areas along the Potomac. For directions and additional information, click here.
Algonkian Regional Park
Saturday, May 7, 8 AM
Registration required: contact ASNV at 703-438-6008 or email@example.com to register.
In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, ASNV and the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy are co-sponsoring this walk. Bill Brown and Jay Hadlock will lead the group through the park’s varied habitats, which include riverside, meadows and forest. For directions and additional information, click here.
Thompson WMA, Linden, VA
Wednesday, May 11, 8 Am - early afternoon
Registration required: contact Carol or Jay Hadlock at 703-437-7451 to register.
Does your heart beat faster at the prospect of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers, Cerulean, Hooded and Kentucky Warblers? If so, join Carol and Jay Hadlock and we’ll throw in spectacular trilliums and lots of other wildflowers and birds. For directions and additional information, click here.
Burke Lake Park
Friday, May 13, 8 AM - 11 AM
Beginners are welcome on this walk, led by Kathleen Britts and Jen Connors. Check the woods and the lake for spring migrants. Meet at the carousel parking lot, first left after entering the park. For directions and additional information, click here.
Buttermilk Creek and Lake Fairfax
Sunday, May 15, 7:30 - 10 AM
Meadow, forest and the back end of Lake Fairfax, provide habitat for a nice variety of birds. Carolyn Williams and Cindy Foster will lead. For directions and additional information, click here.
Delaware Bay Weekend Fieldtrip
May 20-23, 2011
Registration required: contact Ray Smith at 571-286-7856 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Hurry, space is limited!
Ray Smith will again lead this trip at the height of shorebird migration. The Beacon Motel in Lewes, DE, will be our base, with birding starting at Cape Henlopen State Park on Friday, May 20. In the evening, Ray will hold a shorebird identification class, and discuss the natural history of the Horseshoe Crab. Saturday will be spent at several great places on the Bay that are famous for Horseshoe Crab eggs that feed the migrating shorebirds—Broad Kill Beach Rd., Prime Hook, Satellite Beach, and Mispillion Lighthouse. On Sunday, we will drive to Port Mahon and Bombay Hook. Reservations are needed. Limit is 20.
Clarke's Crossing, Vienna
Wednesday, May 25, 7:30 - 10:30 AM
Join Carol and Jay Hadlock to walk a stretch of the W&D Trail looking for Indigo Buntings, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Yellow-breasted Chats and spring warblers. For directions and additional information, click here.
Sapsucker Woods and Upper Glade Stream Valley, Reston
Sunday, May 29, 7:30 - 10:30 AM
The stream valley should be full of birds, plus this is a beautiful place for a spring walk. For directions and additional information, click here.
Remember to check our website regularly for more walks, classes and other activities.
Take the LEAPP®!
The LEAPP® (Learn, Enjoy, Appreciate, Preserve, and Protect) program offers the opportunity to learn more about the natural world and be informed, active stewards for its care and protection. To register or for more information, please visit our website, email us or call the ASNV office at 703-438-6008. Don’t miss out – register early! Please note that registration is not complete until payment is received. Visit our website for more information about these and other upcoming LEAPP programs.
Bird Life and Behavior
Class: Wednesday, April 27, 7 - 9 PM
Field trip: Saturday, April 30, 7:30 AM - ? Explore the fascinating world of bird biology and natural history in this introduction to ornithology. Some of the topics to be covered in the lecture include aspects of anatomy and physiology that make birds supremely adapted for flight; maintenance behaviors that promote the well being of the individual bird; social behavior and interactions between birds; major habitat types; migration; reproduction, nest building, and raising young; plumage variations, including keys to identification. We will talk about threats to birds and some conservation strategies and ways that citizens can participate. Field trip will visit several different habitats and provide an opportunity to observe birds doing the things that have been talked about in the lecture. For directions and additional information, click here.
Plant Lore and Ethnobotany
Class: Thursday, April 28, 7 - 9:30 PM
Field Trip: Sunday, May 1, 11:30 AM 3:30 PM
Ethnobotany is the study of how people use indigenous plants. Virginia's flora has a rich history of both real and imagined uses. This LEAPP workshop will familiarize participants in local floral legend, lore, and ethnobotany. The focus will be on native plants, but exotic species (and how some were used by people) will also be covered where appropriate. Plant identification, natural history, and animal associations and interactions will also be part of what is studied. The participants will also discuss the ethics and legality of collecting and the promise and danger of medicinal uses. The field trip will be to Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Linden, VA (see below for directions). Carpool arrangements will be discussed in class. The Thompson Wildlife Management Area one of the largest (millions!) great white trillium displays in the world! This area is resplendent with many (often rare) wildflowers and trees, including native orchids, which is why it is a wildflower registry site for the Virginia Native Plant Society. On the somewhat rocky 2-mile trail, we'll discuss plant folklore, ethnobotany, identification, and any other natural history we have a good chance to happen upon. Bring a bag lunch and water to eat on the trail. For directions and additional information, click here.
Audubon At Home and Beyond
Saturday, May 7, 9 AM - 3 PM
In this workshop, you will learn to put the principles of Audubon at Home to work in your yard, creating a healthier environment for you, your family, and pets, while at the same time giving birds and pollinators a helping hand. Things should be popping in the garden, the birds will be singing, and outdoor activities will make this a fun, informative day. For directions and additional information, click here.
Chesapeake Bay Ecology: Lecture and Field Trip
Co-sponsored by Potomac Overlook Regional Park
Class: Sunday, May 15, 2 – 4:15 PM
Field Trip: Saturday, May 28
An introduction to how the Chesapeake works! Learn about living communities such as baygrasses and marshes, the tides, flora and fauna and more. The Chesapeake, still one of the most productive estuaries in the U.S., needs our understanding and positive help to remain as a healthy ecosystem. For the field trip, join a naturalist in a morning exploration of a lush lowland forest and wetland along the Chesapeake Bay . Highlights include excellent birding, a beaver wetland and fossil hunting at a protected beach. Binoculars are highly recommended. In the afternoon, the group will visit Battle Creek Cypress swamp and the Calvert marine museum. (Lecture open to all. Field trip participants must attend lecture.) For directions and additional information, click here.
Audubon At Home and Beyond
Saturday, June 4, 9 AM - 3 PM
Carol Hadlock's backyard will be your classroom for this workshop, where you will learn to put the principles of Audubon at Home to work in your yard, creating a healthier environment for you, your family, and pets, while at the same time giving birds and pollinators a helping hand. Things should be popping in the garden, the birds will be singing, and outdoor activities will make this a fun, informative day. For directions and additional information, click here.
Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You
Birds and Wind Energy
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comments on their draft guidelines on land-based wind energy and the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee is meeting on April 27, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. The draft guidelines are available for download (pdf).
Learn more and share your comments online.
Redistricting Occurring This Year
The Virginia legislature is now drawing new district lines for state and federal elective positions. Local governments are drawing boundaries for local elected officials who serve by magisterial district. There will be many changes. Governor Bob McDonnell can amend, sign or veto the redistricting bills and the U. S. Department of Justice must approve Virginia’s plans.
In November, Virginians will elect state legislators and local officials in many jurisdictions to represent their redrawn districts. To see the 2011 elections calendar, visit the State Board of Elections online. Campaigns offer many opportunities to meet and work for candidates and to influence their conservation platform.
Ask Senators to Support EPA
In the U.S. Congress, there are several efforts to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce air pollution, including greenhouse gas pollution. The Senate on April 6, considered four amendments to limit EPA’s authority.
Thirty-four senators are supporting a bill, S. Res. 119, that expresses support for the Clean Air Act and its implementation. Neither Virginia senator is a cosponsor of the bill.
- Senator Mark Warner voted NO on all four amendments.
- Senator Jim Webb voted NO on three of the four. He voted for a Rockefeller amendment to impose a two-year moratorium on EPA regulatory action under the Clean Air Act addressing carbon dioxide or methane, except for motor vehicle emission standards.
Here is what he said: “I have long expressed deep reservations about the consequences of unilateral regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA. This sweeping authority at the hands of the EPA could endanger thousands of jobs in our fragile economy. Senator Rockefeller’s amendment, which I cosponsored, would give Congress time to address legitimate concerns with climate change and to enact responsible energy legislation.”
On April 7, the U. S. House of Representatives passed a bill, H. R. 910 (Upton) to prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change. Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran voted NO; Congressmen Wolf and Wittman voted YES.
Both bills can be read online.
Auduboners may wish to express their appreciation or disappointment in these votes. You may also want to urge our Senators to cosponsor S. Res. 119. You can email them or get contact information from their websites at www.senate.gov or www.house.gov.
Occoquan Regional Park
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is accepting comments on what its vision should be for the park. At one meeting, ideas ranged from trail improvements to fishing to model airplane fields. If any Auduboners would like to contribute to the chapter’s suggestions, please email Glenda Booth at email@example.com.
Park planning in all jurisdictions presents opportunities to express support for more natural landscaping and native plants, for example. NVRPA will have another meeting this summer. The topics suggested at the first meeting are available for download online.
How Did They Vote?
Learn how your elected representatives voted on key conservation issues in 2010 by visiting the League of Conservation Voters online.
Join Jim Waggener in his ongoing wildlife surveys at two of Northern Virginia's best birding spots. Surveys are held on scheduled Wednesdays, alternating between Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area on Mason Neck. Each survey is limited to four participants, and reservations are required. Call Jim at 703-567-3555 for more details or to reserve your space.
Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Take I-95 to Woodbridge exit 161. Go south on Rt. 1 to Dawson Beach Road, turn left, and go to the central parking area.
Meadowood on Mason Neck
Take I-95 to Lorton exit 163. Turn left on Lorton Road, right on Rt. 1, and left on Gunston Road. About a mile past the elementary school you will see Meadowood’s horse pastures and signs on the right. Enter through the iron gateway, drive straight ahead and park by the stables.
Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys
Join Jim Waggener each Friday, from April through October, in his ongoing survey of the butterflies and dragonflies at four locations in Fairfax and Prince William Counties. Limit: 4 individuals each week. Reservations required. Call Jim at 703-567-3555 for reservations and directions.
Note: Surveys may be cancelled for inclement weather.
- April 22, Metz Wetlands
- April 29, Occoquan Regional Park
- May 6, Occoquan Bay NWR
- May 13, Meadowood
- May 20, Metz Wetlands
- May 27, Occoquan Regional Park
Eakin Park Bird Walk
Every Monday morning, weather permitting
Hidden Oaks Nature Center (FCPA) sponsors weekly bird walks along the Accotink Stream Valley.
We meet every Monday morning (weather permitting) at the parking lot on Prosperity Ave. about half way between Routes 50 and 236 (Little River Turnpike). We begin at 7:30 a.m. Dec. through Feb. and 7:00 a.m. the rest of the year. No need to sign up. The walk generally goes for a couple of hours but can vary depending on how "birdy" it is and the weather. If you have any questions please contact the leader Carolyn Williams at 703-273-1961.
Audubon at Home needs you!
People-oriented volunteers are needed to help spread the word about the Audubon At Home Wildlife Sanctuary Program at community and regional events. We schedule the dates, provide all the materials, and brief you on our message -- you supply the enthusiasm! To volunteer or for more information, contact Cliff Fairweather at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-256-6895.
Earth Day Celebration at Dyke Marsh
Representatives from the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia will bring hawks, falcons and owls to the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, on April 23, from 9 - 11 AM. Erik Oberg, Acting Natural Resource Manager, U. S. National Park Service, will lead a wetlands walk at 10 AM.
Learn more online.
Watch Virginia's Eagles
Check out the activity in this bald eagle’s nest in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. One enthusiast said on April 7, "Eaglets are just a month old, have lost their white fuzz and are growing fast and eating often. You can still tell the birth order by the differences in size." Watch online.
You Can Help Make a Difference
The National Audubon Society invites all Auduboners to join their e-activist network. When you subscribe to their newsletter, you'll receive alerts about important Congressional actions and information about how you can affect legislation by contacting your Members of Congress. Visit www.audubonaction.org to learn more.
We need passionate volunteers across Virginia who can help us persuade our U. S. senators to support a strong climate change bill. If you would like to help us make a difference with climate change and other important issues, please contact Glenda Booth.