April 2016

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In this Newsletter

  • President's Corner
  • Audubon Afternoon and Annual Meeting
  • Hog Island Scholarship
  • Birdathon 2016
  • First Annual ASNV Earth Day Big Sit
  • Classes
  • Take Action
  • Birdwalks and Field Trips
  • Other News

Conservation Counts

Join Jim Waggener in his ongoing wildlife surveys at two of Northern Virginia's best birding spots. Surveys alternate 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. More information is available on the ASNV website.

Contact Jim for more details or to reserve your space.

General Surveys

Meadowood on Mason Neck

  • April 13
  • May 11

Occoquan Bay NWR

  • April 27
  • May 25

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys

  • Metz Wetlands - April 1
  • Occoquan Regional Park - April 8
  • Occoquan Bay NWR - April 15
  • Meadowood SRMA - April 22
  • Metz Wetlands - April 29 

Make a Difference!  Volunteer


E-Activist Network. 

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.

Climate Change.

We also need passionate volunteers across Virginia who can help us persuade our elected officials to support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you would like to help us make a difference with climate change and other important issues, please contact Glenda Booth.

Audubon at Home.

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 the ASNV office.

President's Corner

I don’t know if it is just my own neighborhood (or for that matter just my own fading hearing) but the “morning chorus” seems diminished to me.  I’m still hearing the species I expect to hear – the robins and the Song Sparrows, the cardinals and the Carolina Wrens - you know, the usual suspects – but they just don’t seem to be as thick as I remember from past years.  Granted, there are still more robins than you would think there would be room for, and House Finches are just about everywhere – but I think there are fewer birds.  The numbers from our own surveys, like the Northern Virginia Bird Survey, tend to bear this out, and it is a very worrisome trend.  It is one very good reason for each of us to be doing what we can to improve and protect bird habitat - whether that means planting native plants so as to attract “bird food” (insects) into our yards, or providing pesticide-free stopovers for migrants, or preserving  natural areas in our parks and commons.  Wondering what you can do?  Take a look at our Audubon at Home program.

Speaking of surveys, our June Audubon Afternoon (save the date, Sunday June 12) will feature Mike Lott, the regional coordinator for the recently launched Second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas, a multi-year, state-wide survey of the species that breed in our Commonwealth.  He’ll speak to us about the history and purposes of the Atlas, and also provide information on how you can get involved. 

We have several opportunities coming up for birders.  We need some people to help staff “observation stations” at the Mason Neck Eagle Fest at Mason Neck State Park on Saturday, April 23. Contact us at info@audubonva.org for more information. We are also looking for people to help out at a “big sit” at Whitehall Farms in Clifton that same weekend.  The big sit will be part of our Birdathon this year—for more information about Birdathon, click here.  A sign-up sheet for the big sit can be found here. Both events should be a lot of fun, and a chance to meet some of your fellow members.  Even if you can just come out for a few hours, we’d love to have your help.    

Have a good month. 

Carl Kikuchi

Audubon Afternoon and Annual Meeting

Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2


Sunday, June 12, 2016
3:00 – 5:00 pm
National Wildlife Federation Building
11100 Wildlife Center Dr., Reston, VA

The Second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA2) is starting up this spring.  This will be a multi-year, state-wide survey.  Mike Lott is our Regional Coordinator for the BBA2 in Northern Virginia, and he will speak to us about the history and purpose of the Atlas.   He will also be available to answer any questions you might have about how you can participate in this project.  Click here for more information about BBA2.

This meeting will also be our annual meeting for our Chapter membership.  And we will also be announcing Birdathon winners!

Hog Island Scholarship

By Janice Lloyd

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia gave Kate Sydney a scholarship to attend Audubon’s Hog Island camp in Maine last summer. For the coming summer, ASNV has selected Morgan Occhuizzo.

Below, Kate describes how the experience inspired her to transform the area outside her classroom windows into an attractive environment for bluebirds and other native species. She teaches fifth grade at Glebe Elementary.

Kate Sydney's Week on Hog Island In Her Own Words

Last summer, I had the privilege of joining educators from across the country in a week long professional development camp on Hog Island in Maine.  The week was filled with everything one would expect to find at a summer camp, hikes, story-telling, camp songs and so much more. Read More→

Hog Island Scholarship to Morgan Occhuizzo

Want to see young students get excited about conservation ideas and wildlife? Just check out one of Morgan Occhuizzo’s classes.

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia picked Morgan from among eight outstanding teachers to receive a scholarship allowing her to attend an educators’ camp this summer at Audubon’s Hog Island in Maine. Read More→


                           Kate                                                                                  Morgan

Birdathon 2016

April 22 - May 15

Spring is here, and Birdathon is on its way! It’s time to organize your teams and sign up for our annual spring migration birding competition. The concept is simple: Participants can bird in teams of two to five. Team members then make their own donations or secure pledges from friends, family members, colleagues, neighborhood merchants, etc. Then, during any 24-hour period between April 22 and May 15, teams search Northern Virginia to see how many bird species they can identify. As in the past, we will be awarding prizes to members of the team that raises the most money and to the team that identifies the most species. Click here for more information.

First Annual ASNV Earth Day Big Sit

April 22-23

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia is going to hold it's first annual Earth Day Big Sit, and we're looking for volunteers to help identify bird species. Our aim is to ID as many bird types as possible from inside a set area. The event will take place at the bucolic Whitehall Farms in Clifton as part of its Spring Festival. Click here for more information about Whitehall Farm.


We need volunteers on both Sat., April 22 and Sun. April 23. Responsible teen birders in need of community service hours are welcome. Volunteers get free admission to the festival. Event qualifies for Fairfax Master Naturalist service hours (#E030). Please sign up by clicking here.



Ethnobotany of Flowers

Class: April 7; Field Trip: April 9

Join us for an introduction to Ethnobotany, the intersection of the study of people and plants, with instructor Alonso Abugattas. Find out the legends and the uses of the famous and infamous plants: Night Shade to Common Chokecherry, Arrow to Arrowood. Each one has a story, history and use. Alonso will lead a field trip to see plants in our area that Native and Non-native Americans used. You'll also learn how to collect and use them yourself.  The field trip will be at Riverbend Park where you'll enjoy the beauty of spring along the Potomac. Read more→

Birding by Ear Boot Camp

April 30, 2016

Join Joette Borzik, West Virginia Master Naturalist and Master Birder for a one-day Birding by Ear Boot Camp. Are you ready to take your birding skills to a higher level? Joette, being a bird song enthusiast, uses repetition, active listening, quizzing and other techniques to help you learn bird song in a fun and non-intimidating environment. Read more→


Spring Warblers

Class: May 12,Field Trip: May 14

Just in time for spring migration!  Workshop will focus on both field marks and songs, with an emphasis on the species we are most likely to see, including both migrants passing through and birds that breed in our region.  Instructor is President of the Northern Virginia Bird Club, and a former Board member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology. Read more→

What is Audubon at Home, Anyway?

Saturday, June 11, 9:00 am -3:00 pm

ToadAre you curious about the program, not sure if you want to try it on your own but not quite ready to call for an Ambassador?  This workshop explores the principles of Audubon at Home in a backyard, real-life setting.  You will spend the day learning about gardening with native plants, composting, rain barrels, creating habitat for birds and pollinators.  You will also receive lots of helpful reference materials to take home with you. Come spend some time outside, enjoy the beauty of this amazing backyard habitat and observe its many wildlife visitors—it will be a fun and informative day.

Instructors:  Carol & Jay Hadlock
Location:  515 Alabama Drive, Herndon                       American Toad in Back Yard Pool - Jay Hadlock
Limit: 10                                                
Cost:  $25 for ASNV members, $35 for non-members

Note: Participants must bring their own lunches. Drinks and brownies will be provided

Register Here.  Additional photos of Carol's and Jay's back yard here.

Take Action


General Assembly, One More Day this Year

The Virginia General Assembly ended its 2016 session on March 12 and will reconvene on April 20 to consider Governor Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes and amendments.  At this time, we have limited information on the bills that will be considered on April 20. Read More→

Conservation Should Be Prominent in Local Budgets

Most area local governments are now considering their budgets for the coming fiscal year.  Budget time offers opportunities for ASNVers to advocate for more parks and conservation.  Check with your local government to find out about hearings and other meetings. 

What Kind of Parks Do We Want in Fairfax?

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) will have a meeting on April 14, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., in the Herrity Building at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, on their needs assessment study findings. At the meeting, attendees can visit information stations to learn more about the study and the FCPA capital improvement plan. Read More→   

Educate the Candidates about Conservation

In addition to electing a U.S. president this year, Virginians will elect 11 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  It’s never too early to get involved and make the case for conservation.


Birdwalks and Field Trips


Lake Newport/ Brown’s Chapel, Reston, VA

Let’s see what the lake shore and woods of this lovely park area have to offer us for the spring.  Bill Brown leads.  Sponsored by the Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

Getting there:  From Route 7, go west on Baron Cameron Ave, and turn north on Village Rd. (opposite Lake Anne Village Center). Make an immediate right onto Brown’s Chapel Rd. and park by the ball field. 1575 Brown’s Chapel Road.

Sunday, April 3
7:30 AM – 10:30 AM

Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Arlington, VA
Meet leader Melanie La Force at the park for a spring birding start.  Then continue downriver for birding stops including an end at Theodore Roosevelt Island. It’s a great time of year to bird these areas with river, woodland, and marshland habitats. Sponsored by ASNV.

Getting there:  From the west, take I66 east to Arlington exit to Lee Highway.  OR from the South, take 95/395 North to the Glebe Road North exit. Follow Glebe Road for several miles to Lee Highway. From Lee Highway or Lorcum Lane, head North on Military Road.  Turn right onto Marcey Road to address 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington, 22207.  Meet at the parking lot near the restrooms and picnic area; look for Melanie in the brown hat with the woodpecker design on it. 


April 10
7:30 AM - Noon

Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park, Bristow, VA

Fields and wood edge make this a park home to meadowlarks and sparrows, while the migrants stop by to rest and refuel.  Phil Silas leads.  Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there: From  I-66, take Rte 234 south (exit 44). Travel 4.5 miles and turn right onto Rte 28 (Nokesville Rd). Travel 1.5 and turn left onto Rte 619 (Bristow Rd). Travel 0.25 mile and turn right onto Iron Brigade Unit Ave.  The parking lot is located on the left at the traffic circle. 10708 Bristow Rd, Bristow VA 20136.

Wednesday, April 13
8:30 AM

Bright Pond, Reston, VA

Reston’s woods and ponds offer most enjoyable birding in the Spring and we look for this Sunday to be no exception.  Matt Bender leads. Sponsored by the Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston.

Getting there:  Take the Reston Parkway north from the Dulles Toll Road or from Baron Cameron Ave. Turn right on Bright Pond Lane and park around the cul-de-sac and along the street.

Sunday, April 17
7:30 to 10:30

Wildflower Walk at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, VA

The ephemeral wildflowers of spring are the highlight of this walk. They can be great splashes of color or demure gems almost hidden on the forest floor. And they appear for such a short time, you don’t want to miss this opportunity.  Ruth Schrott leads for ASNV.

Getting there:  Take Georgetown Pike (Rte 193) to Riverbend Road (Rte 603).  In 2 miles turn right on Jeffery Road and go 0.8 miles to park entrance sign on right. Turn right and continue 0.5 miles to Visitor Center parking.  8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls, 22066. Meet at the visitor center. 

Wednesday April 20
1:30 PM

Daniels Run Park, Fairfax, VA

This woodland, creek-bed park provides a fun and easy walk, with promises of shrub and treetop birds.  Catherine Kubo leads.  Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there:  From the Capital Beltway, take US 50 W 2.7 mi to Fairfax Circle. Exit the circle SW on Old Lee Highway. In 1.2 mi, turn left on Old Post Rd (just past Historic Blenheim on the right). Drive 1 ½ blocks to the end of the street. We have a walk-day permission to park in the Country Club Hills pool parking lot. 3622 Old Post Rd, Fairfax, VA 22030

Wednesday, April 27
8:30 AM

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens,  Vienna, VA

The wooded areas and field edges of the Gardens provide some great opportunities to catch spring migrants as well as local residents. Join leader Ray Smith for birding this beautiful location. Entrance fees apply: $5.00 general and $2.50 senior.

Getting there: The gardens are located off  Beulah Road, between Route 7 and Route 123, south of the Dulles Access Road. From the Beltway, take Route 7 toward Tysons Corner. Drive 4.5 miles west on Route 7, turn left onto Beulah Road and drive 2.5 miles to the gardens entrance on the right. Meet in the Visitors Center.

Sunday May 1
7:30 AM 

Entrance fees apply.

Great Dismal Swamp and Piney Grove Field Trip

Hotel Block Deadline:
April 6

Join fellow birders as we look for Swainson’s Warbler and other spring migrants at Great Dismal Swamp and Red-cockaded Woodpecker at Piney Grove.  Steve Coari, Field Trip Chairperson at the Virginia Beach Audubon Society, will be guiding the full day trip through the Great Dismal Swamp on Saturday.  A representative from the Center for Conservation Biology, will be our guide on Sunday at Piney Grove. 

Cost: $45 for ASNV Members; $55 for non-members

Sign up.     Read More→

Friday May 6 -
Sunday May 8

Prothonotary Warbler

Riverbend Park (Nature Center), Fairfax County, VA

Riverbend is always a productive birding area. We’ll look for spring migrants in meadowland and wood edges.  Ray Smith leads for ASNV.

Getting there:  Take Georgetown Pike (Rte 193) to Riverbend Road (Rte 603). In 2 miles turn right on Jeffery Road and go 1.5 miles to Nature Center parking area (Don’t turn right at main park entrance sign). 8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls, 22066.  

Saturday May 7
7:30 AM

Stratton Woods, Reston, VA

Stratton Woods has a mix of woods and meadow habitats, and we’ll be looking for spring migrants and evidence of nesting. Sponsored by the Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

Getting there:  From westbound Dulles Access Road, go south on the Fairfax County Parkway.  From the Parkway, go west on Fox Mill Rd and take the first right turn into the parking lot and park by the ball fields.  2431 Fox Mill Road.

Sunday May 15
7:30 AM to 10:30 AM

Eakin Park, Fairfax, VA

This neighborhood park offers woods and stream habitat, with field edges that make good viewing opportunities. Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club. Leader is Elizabeth Fenton.

Getting there:  From Route 50 outside the beltway, take Prosperity Avenue South to the entrance to the parking lot on the left (east) side.

Wednesday, May 18
8:30 to 11:00 AM

BioBlitz 2016: Washington DC

At the National Parks BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival, teams of scientists, students, teachers, and the general public will join in a two-day race to discover and document the flora and fauna of select National Capital Parks. For website and an email address for more information, click here.

Friday, May 20 and
Saturday May 21 

Birding the Blue Ridge

More details to come in the May newsletter on birding this unique area. Sponsored by ASNV.  Ellen Jacobson leads.

Sunday, May 22

Check for details in May newsletter!

Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, VA

The wetlands boardwalk and the wooded paths provide a great place for birding.  Come find migrants and year round residents.  Sponsored by Northern Virginia Bird Club.  Dixie Sommers leads.

Getting there: From I-195, take Route 1 south  for 3 miles.  Turn right on Lockheed Blvd. and in 0.5 miles turn left into park entrance.  3701 Lockheed Blvd. Meet in parking lot.

Wednesday May 25
8:30 AM to Noon

Sapsucker Woods, Reston, VA

This is a section of the Glade Stream Valley that is rich in songbirds and often has a surprise or two.  Carol and Jay Hadlock lead. Sponsored by the Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

Getting there:  Take the Dulles Toll Road West, to Exit 13, Wiehle Ave.  Turn left onto Wiehle, Right onto Sunrise Valley Drive, Left onto Soapstone Drive, and then Right onto Glade Drive. Meet in the parking lot of the Glade Swimming Pool and Tennis Courts. 11550 Glade Drive.

Sunday, May 29
7:30 AM to 10:30 AM

Clarks Crossing, W&OD trail, Vienna, VA

Bluebirds, tanagers, and orioles, oh, my!  Those are just a few of the species we often find on this early summer walk along woods edges and stream crossings. Sponsored by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.  Dixie Sommers leads.

Getting there:  From I-66, exit to Nutley Street, North (Rte 243).  Go about 1 mile and turn right to go north/east on Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) toward Vienna.  In 1.3 miles turn left onto Beulah Road.  In 1.6 miles turn left onto Clarks Crossing Road and meet in the parking lot at the end of the road.

Sunday June 5
7:30 to 11:30 AM

And many more to come in May!  Clean your binoculars and check back in April!


Recurring Bird Walks

Several parks in the area have established year-round weekly bird walks. These walks are not run by ASNV, but may be of interest to ASNV members. They can be found here.

Other News

Bird Feeder in Reston

The Bird Feeder in Reston This store offers a 10% discount to current ASNV members, good on all purchases excluding optics and sale merchandise. When you visit, just tell them you are a member of ASNV and ask for the discount. Read More→

Gardening with Wildlife in Mind: the Habitat Value of Native Plants

Thursday April 14 - 7:30 PM

This is a presentation on April 14 by Alonso Abugattas at Green Spring Gardens Horticulture Center.  This presentation is sponsored by the Potowmack chapter of VNPS and is free and open to the public.

An Opportunity to See the Messenger

May 20

We have alocal opportunity to see the critically acclaimed documentary, The Messenger, a film that artfully investigates why songbirds are suffering mass depletion and the compassionate people working to save them. The film takes viewers on a stunning, emotional journey, revealing how the issues facing birds also pose daunting implications for our planet and ourselves. Read More→