I was thinking the other day how lucky we in Virginia are to have the number of birding and conservation organizations working all of the issues we care about. I know I've mentioned the Virginia Society of Ornithology in the past, and have encouraged your support of it, and I'd guess that you have also seen in these pages references to our great relationships with the local Northern Virginia Bird Club and out in Loudoun County, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship.
But what we don't mention often enough is the wonderful cooperation between the six official Audubon Chapters represented in Virginia and some of the very interesting activities and programs underway. The six chapters are organized around the Virginia Audubon Council which serves as a platform for sharing chapter successes and best practices as well as devoting a great deal of time to Virginia's Important Bird Area program.
On that latter note, the IBA program will become of increasing importance as National Audubon completes an ongoing strategic planning initiative under the leadership of new CEO David Yarnold. We'll go into some of these issues in more detail in future newsletters and will certainly post them on our website so take a look. In the meantime, Bill Brown is our representative to the VAC and you can see his minutes of our last VAC meeting elsewhere in the newsletter.
Meantime, don't forget to come out to our Audubon Afternoon on September 25 to hear David Bryan's talk on quail, hunting and the state of Virginia's birdlife.
Stay in touch, Bruce
Bruce Johnson Slated for President of Virginia Audubon Council
Bruce Johnson and Bill Brown represented ASNV at the most recent meeting of the Virginia Audubon Council (VAC), held this past June in Highland County. The VAC brings together representatives of Virginia’s six chapters of National Audubon (NAS), in an informal meeting to discuss chapter developments and matters of common concern.
At June’s meeting, Caroline Coe announced that her replacement as NAS Regional Director for the Mid-Atlantic region would be Hugh Simmons of Chesapeake Audubon in Maryland. Hugh’s term will begin in 2012.
Mary Elfner, Virginia Important Bird Areas (IBA) Coordinator for NAS, advised that funding for her work may dry up at the end of the year, when a three-year grant from Dominion Resources will have run its term. Mary noted that $300,000 to $400,000 in grants will be needed to fund the IBA program in Virginia for the next three years.
VAC will elect a new slate of officers at its October meeting. ASNV’s Bruce Johnson has agreed to head the slate as candidate for president. VAC hopes to field a slate of four officers, each from a different NAS chapter. The meeting will take place October 22 at the VCU Rice Center on the lower James River, and will include an opportunity for some interesting birding in the area. Anyone interested in attending and learning a bit about what other Virginia Audubon chapters are doing should email Bill Brown.
Fall: The Best Time for Planting
Cliff Fairweather, ASNV Naturalist
Spring planting gets all the attention with big plant sales and crowded garden centers, but fall is really the best time to plant. I consulted with a number of native plant gardeners in the Audubon at Home program about fall planting and I am now passing their wisdom on to you.
Fall is the best time to plant for a number of reasons. First, the plants are going dormant at this time of year and so they are less susceptible to transplant shock. In the spring, plants are expending a lot of energy on new growth, leaving them with fewer reserves to cope with the stress of transplanting.
Another good reason to plant in the fall is the weather. Summer temperatures are moderating so plants are suffering less water stress and so they don’t need as much water. Moreover, we generally have more rain, including soaking tropical storms that save us from turning on the tap. Still, you’ll have to give them some water, so water long (and patiently!) enough to encourage deep root growth.
Virginia Native Plant Society Potowmack Chapter President Alan Ford offers this advice on watering: "Water once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year. This is most appropriate for trees but any plant will benefit. Reset your schedule any time you get an inch of rain or more."
Cooler fall weather is easier on your plants and it’s easier on you than gardening in the summer heat. In our area, you can plant at least into November with natives - but resist the urge to tidy up the garden too much. Left-over seed heads feed birds and other animals, while plant stalks and leaves harbor insect eggs, larvae and pupae that will be next year’s pollinators and bird food. Also, take advantage of the autumn leaf-drop to create free mulch and compost.
Finally, fall planting gives your plants three seasons to get established and grow deep roots before they have to endure summer drought. I think conservation horticulturist Nancy Christmus sums up the logic of fall planting very nicely, "Just allow nature to work its magic; the plant will go dormant and appear in spring ready to rock and roll."
Thank you to Alan Ford, Robin Rentsch, Kevin Munroe, Pam McMillie, and Nancy Christmus for their garden wisdom!
Christmas Bird Count Workshop
Ever wonder how and why we count birds on a Christmas Bird Count? Want to improve your counting skills? Want to get ready for ASNV’s 2011 CBC, which will be held on December 18? Curious about what each team member on a CBC does? Come and find out the answers to these questions and more. ASNV will offer a CBC workshop to share experiences and discuss techniques for maximizing the number of birds counted when you are in the field. This workshop is for all levels, whether you are a new birder or a regular who wants to find out how to be a sector leader. To register, contact the ASNV office via phone (703-438-6008) or email.
When: Sunday, October 30, 2PM
Where: 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston.
Instructor: Bob Shipman, CBC Coordinator
Limit: 12 participants
Audubon at Home Workshops
We have started a new series of Audubon at Home workshop to provide enrichment for Audubon at Home clients and additional training for our volunteer Ambassadors. These programs vary for 1.5 – 3 hours and are typically held in private homes or local parks. Workshop will be offered free to current and trainee Audubon at Home Ambassadors.
Alternatives to Traditional Plantings
Saturday, September 18, 1-3 PM
Traditional approaches to landscaping tend to overuse some plants and tend to focus on exotic plants, some of which are invasive. In this workshop, Audubon at Home Ambassador Kim Scudera will cover replacement strategies, such as mimicking ornamental characteristics and/or landscape function and consider issues such as size, cultural requirements, and potential for trouble. For directions and additional information, click here.
Less Lawn. More Biodiversity!
Saturday, September 24, 10 AM - noon
Join us at professional conservation horticulturalist Nancy Christmus' beautiful home habitat to raise your awareness about the hazards of turf grass and to learn steps to reduce or eliminate your lawn. Most Americans recognize the importance of protecting the environment; however, many of us think it's hard to make a positive impact while also fulfilling our desire for appealing, easy care, landscaping. Find out how you can do both with native plants. For directions and additional information, click here.
Dealing with Invasive Exotics
Sunday, October 23, 1 - 3 PM
Join English ivy, porcelain berry, wisteria, oriental bittersweet... the list of invasive exotics goes on! Jenn Troung, former invasive exotics program coordinator for the Cooperative Extension office in Arlington will guide us on how to identify some of the more common invasive exotics and how to control them in your yard and neighborhood. This program will include both classroom and field components. For directions and additional information, click here.
Learn More Online...
Visit our website to learn more about Audubon at Home, these workshops, and to read our blog. Each workshop is limited to 12 participants. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or email@example.com for more information and to reserve your space.
Upcoming Field Trips
Registration is not required unless noted. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Fred Crabtree Park, Reston
Sunday, August 28, 7:30-10:30 AM
Join Bill Brown to explore this extensive wooded park.For directions and additional information, click here.
Sapsucker Woods and Upper Glade Stream Valley, Reston
Sunday, September 11, 7:30-10:30 AM
We’ll be looking for fall migrants in this beautifully restored stream valley. For directions and additional information, click here.
Lake Fairfax Park
Wednesday, September 14, 8 AM
Meet Bill Brown at the visitor center and explore the varied habitats in the park and around the lake. For directions and additional information, click here.
NatureFest, Runnymede Park, Herndon
Sunday, September 18, 1-5 PM
Bring your family to this annual event and take a walk through the park as you visit various nature stations throughout. Lois Auer will be there with her raptors at 3:00 PM. ASNV will again sponsor the birding station, World of Birds. Stop by and say hello, or better yet, volunteer to help us! For directions and additional information, click here.
Wildlife Center of Virginia, Waynesboro,VA
Saturday, October 8, all day
Reservations required: RSVP to Carol Hadlock at 703-437-7451 or email@example.com.
This center is a premier hospital/rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned wildlife in Virginia. We will tour the hospital and the pre-release facilities, meet some of the non-releaseable residents and take a hike with a naturalist through the woods on the Center’s property. 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.
Introduction to Birds of Prey: Lecture and Field Trip
Class: Sunday, October 9, 2-3:30 PM
Field trip: Saturday, October 15, 10 AM - 1:30 PM
Learn about birds of prey in the Washington D.C. area! This program explores identification and ecology of these remarkable animals. Participants will have the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with our park’s resident rehabilitated raptors. For the field trip, join a naturalist in a canoeing and hiking exploration of the Mason Neck peninsula. Birds of prey abound, including bald eagles, osprey and hawks. Participants will canoe the marsh at Pohick Bay in the morning, and then hike at Pohick Bay Regional Park and Mason Neck State Park in the afternoon. (Lecture open to all. Field trip participants must attend lecture.) For directions and additional information, click here.
Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You
Primaries are August 23: Ask Candidates about Conservation
Primaries will be held in certain districts on August 23 this year to select party nominees for state offices. On November 8, Virginians will elect state legislators and local officials in many jurisdictions to represent newly redrawn districts. Visit the State Board of Elections' website to see the new 2011 election calendar.
Campaigns offer many opportunities to meet and work for candidates and to influence their conservation platform. Ask them what they plan to do. Remind them that their constituents care about local wildlife and conservation. Learn how your current elected representatives voted on key conservation issues in 2010 by visiting the League of Conservation Voters online.
Legislators' Conservation Voting Record
Learn how your elected representatives voted on key conservation issues in 2011 by visiting the League of Conservation Voters online.
Keep the Pressure on Congress
Before leaving Washington for the August recess, the U.S. House of Representatives began work on the annual funding bill (H.R.2584) for the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal conservation agencies. Many anti-environment amendments were filed, many of which would curtail EPA's ability to ensure clean air and water. EPA, for example, is moving to tighten limits on air pollutants like mercury, greenhouse gases and ozone. Many Virginia rivers have fish consumption advisories for mercury. Northern Virginia does not meet the federal air quality standard for ozone. Several amendments seek to delay or stop EPA from taking these actions.
There was one victory. The House of Representatives voted to protect wildlife on the brink of extinction by supporting an amendment to maintain safeguards for endangered species.
Mike Daulton, Vice President of Government Relations for the National Audubon Society said, "In the midst of an historic assault on the environment in the House of Representatives, we were reminded of the value and power of the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act is one of America’s most successful conservation laws, which has been a critical safety net for species on the brink of extinction and recovered America’s symbol the Bald Eagle."
"This historic vote demonstrates the strong support that exists for protecting our nation’s most imperiled wildlife. We applaud the 224 members of Congress who supported the amendment sponsored by Representatives Norm Dicks (D-WA), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) striking language from the Interior and Environment bill that would have dismantled endangered species protections.
"Without the amendment, this bill would have crippled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and driven imperiled plants and animals to extinction. Passage of the amendment brings hope that both parties ultimately will reject extremist assaults on America’s great natural heritage."
Northern Virginia Congressmen Jim Moran, Gerry Connolly, Frank Wolf and Rob Wittman voted for the amendment. You can find the vote here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll652.xml.
You may wish to thank them and urge them to continue to vote against efforts to weaken environmental protection.
Save the date!
Our annual Christmas Bird Count will be on December 18. More details coming soon...
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.
- August 26, Occoquan Bay NWR
- September 2, Meadowood
- September 9, Metz Wetlands
- September 16, Occoquan Regional Park
- September 23, Occoquan Bay NWR
- September 30, Meadowood
- October 7, Metz Wetlands
- October 14, Occoquan Regional Park
The Nature of Meadowood
Join an experienced naturalist to discover the special diversity of wildlife and natural habitats within the Bureau of Land Management's Meadowood Recreation Area. Trips are limited to 10. Call BLM's Jinx Fox, 703-928-0186, for reservations.
Upcoming dates (Saturdays, 8:30 - 11:30 AM)
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.
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.