ASNV Welcomes New Educator and Naturalist

ASNV is pleased to announce that Cliff Fairweather begins this month as ASNV's new Environmental Education Coordinator and Naturalist. Cliff has been a professional naturalist since 1996 and worked for about thirteen years for the Audubon Naturalist Society. For nearly five years of that time he was a manager and naturalist at the popular Rust Nature Sanctuary near Leesburg. Cliff is widely known and respected in the Northern Virginia environmental community. His experience includes environmental education, conservation advocacy, coordinating a volunteer water quality monitoring program, and managing nature sanctuaries. Cliff is particularly interested in and concerned about conservation in the urban environment, which he believes is becoming an increasingly urgent issue in a rapidly urbanizing world. With ASNV, he will be taking a lead role in the Audubon at Home program, and will support our conservation and environmental education programs.

In addition to his new position with ASNV, Cliff is pursuing a Masters of Natural Resources degree at Virginia Tech’s Falls Church campus. A Northern Virginia native, he lives with his wife, Karen, in Arlington. His naturalist passions include insects and other invertebrates, amphibians, birds, wetlands of all kinds, streams and their inhabitants, native wildflowers and other plants, and studying and understanding ecosystems. He especially enjoys sharing time and his knowledge in the field with others. We warmly welcome Cliff to our staff and greatly look forward to working together.

Still Room for You in Our Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count!

Our annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count will be Sunday, December 20th. Our count circle is around Centreville and takes in Manassas Battlefield, parts of Bull Run Regional Park, undeveloped areas south of Dulles Airport, and many stream valley parks and undeveloped locations from Clifton to near Fairfax City. As in the past, we’ll be offering a lunch to participants.

We have had good turnouts the past couple of years, but we still need new volunteers. While many teams have been formed, there is still room for more people. Also, this year, we will be offering an opportunity for feeder watchers. If you or someone you know lives within the count circle and cannot go out on the count, he or she can sit inside and count the birds that come to a feeder on count day as another way to participate. If you are new to CBCs and want to volunteer or if you have just been a little slow to sign up, contact the ASNV office at or 703-256-6895.

Look for a summary of the results in next month’s newsletter.

First time counter?

We have good turnouts every year, but we always welcome new volunteers. Our annnual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count is part of the National Audubon Society's country-wide Christmas Bird Count, and helps support bird conservation activites by tracking long-term population trends. Please contact the ASNV office at or 703-256-6895 for more information or to sign up for the event.

If you've counted before

Those of you who participated last year will be contacted by your sector leader in the near future to ask about this year. If you don’t hear from your sector leader, or if you would like to be in a different sector, please contact the ASNV office at or 703-256-6895.

Count without leaving your house

For the very first time, we will be offering an opportunity for feeder watchers this year. If you or someone you know lives within the count circle and cannot go out on the count, he or she can sit inside and count the birds that come to a feeder on count day as another way to participate. Please contact the ASNV office at or 703-256-6895 for more information or to sign up for the event.

Count more than once

We hope you'll join us for a day of counting birds in the Manassas-Bull Run area, but we aren't the only group in the area who will be contributing to the national Christmas Bird Count. If you want to count more than once, please consider joining forces with one or more of these great groups:

Washington, D.C., Saturday, December 19
Includes areas of Virginia inside the Beltway along with Dyke Marsh. Contact Larry Cartwright at

Manassas-Bull Run, Sunday, December 20
This is our group! We'll be counting around the Manassas, Bull Run and Dulles area. Contact Audubon Society of Northern Virginia at or 703-256-6895.

Seneca, Sunday, December 20
Includes locations in Virginia close to the Potomac in northeastern Loudoun and northwestern Fairfax counties. Contact Mark England at or 240-375-4500.

The Plains, Sunday, December 20
Contact Todd Day at

Central Loudoun, Sunday, December 27
Contact Joe Coleman at or 540-554-2542.

Nokesville, Sunday, December 27
Contact Prince William Conservation Alliance at or 703-499-4954.

Calmes Neck, Sunday, January 3
Includes areas in Clarke and western Loudoun counties. Contact Margaret Wester at

Fort Belvoir, Sunday, January 3
Contact Kurt Gaskill at or 703-768-2172.

Upcoming Field Trips

Registration is not required unless noted. Contact the ASNV office at 703-256-6895 or 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.

Ocean City, MD

Sunday, January 10, 2010 All Day
Bundle up for some winter birding with Jay and Carol Hadlock. We’ll stop in Cambridge to check the Choptank River for wintering ducks, then on to Ocean City and surrounding areas. There is always the possibility for a rarity, and always interesting birds.

Limit 14. Reservations required. Please contact Carol or Jay at or 703-437-7451 to reserve a spot and get more information.

Getting there: We will carpool. Meet at Pimmit Regional Libraryon Rt. 7, just inside the Beltway, at 7:00 AM. We will return late afternoon.

Silver Lake Regional Park

Saturday, January 16, 8 AM
Explore a new park in Prince William County with Marc Ribaudo. The habitats include pine woods that could yield red-breasted nuthatch and purple finch, fields for sparrows, and a lake for ducks, if not frozen.

Getting there: Take I-66 west to exit 40 (Rt. 15). From the exit ramp, turn left onto Rt. 15. At the light, turn right on Rt. 55 (Marshall Highway). After about ½ mile, turn right on Antioch. The entrance to the park is on the right after passing the Boy Scout center, which is on the left.

There is no limit, but please sign up with the ASNV office at or 703-256-6895.

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 703-256-6895. 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.

Winter Waterfowl Identification -- FREE!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010 9:00 AM – noon
Join us for an introduction to winter waterfowl identification, in preparation for our annual ASNV Waterfowl Count, scheduled for January 23. Get to know some of the many waterfowl species that winter in the open waters of our region, from lesser scaup, to green-winged teal, hooded mergansers and buffleheads, to tundra swans and more. This will be an outdoor field trip/bird walk, so dress for the weather. We will visit the Great Marsh and Belmont Bay on the Mason Neck peninsula. Bring binoculars and a scope if you have one. The leader will have a scope and waterfowl identification guides.

Where: Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge & Mason Neck State Park

Getting there: Gunston Rd east from Richmond Highway. Continue past turnoff to Mason Neck State Park, to parking lot for the Great Marsh Trail on the right.

Leader: Larry Cartwright

Cost: Free

Maximum class size: 15 Please contact the ASNV office at or 703-256-6895 for more information or to sign up for the event.

Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You

State Legislators Need to Hear from Conservationists

Conservationists will need to be extra-vigilant during the 2010 new Virginia General Assembly which convenes on January 16 for a 60-day session. Measures to weaken the land preservation tax credit and the state’s stormwater program are predicted. On the plus side, bills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging energy efficiency and renewable fuels and to price electricity to discourage consumption may be considered and will need widespread support.

The Virginia Conservation Network will have a conservation lobby day on January 18, 9 AM - 2 PM. Speakers will brief you on the issue and give tips for influencing legislators. To learn more about bills expected, look over the Virginia Conservation Network’s briefing book (pdf download). Please contact Glenda Booth if you plan to attend and would like to travel together by train or carpool.

VCN’s sister organization, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, needs people in the district of every state senator and delegate to occasionally call, write or meet with them, especially during the session. Visit their website to learn more.

Groups Urge Natural Landscaping

Thirteen northern Virginia conservation groups signed a letter initiated by ASNV urging Fairfax County to use more natural landscaping on county properties. The signers argued that natural landscaping and use of native plants can reduce costs, energy use and emissions by reducing the mowing of grass and it can can create habitat. The letter was a follow up to the 2005 plan the county prepared, recommended by ASNV. Board Chairman Sharon Bulova responded that the county is doing several projects but “Given the current financial challenges facing the county, implementing these ideas quickly may be difficult. . . .”

Protect the Parks

As localities struggle to balance their budgets and address declining revenues, parks and conservation efforts become more vulnerable to budget cuts. In Fairfax County, for example, officials are considering cutting parks by 15 percent. For natural resource parks (as opposed to sports fields) this could amount to a 17 or 18 percent cut because these parks are more dependent on general revenue than are others that get revenue from other sources such as user fees.

Two parks’ “friends” groups have online petitions seeking supporters of protecting county parks: Friends of Huntley Meadows and Hidden Pond Patrons.

Visit these websites to learn more about the parks near you:
Prince William

If you would like to become more involved in advocacy for parks, please contact Glenda Booth.

Virginia’s Marsh Birds Harmed by Global Warming; Act Now -- Senators Hearing More from the “Other Side”

Climate change from heat-trapping greenhouse gases is adversely affecting Virginia’s natural resources, concluded Governor Tim Kaine’s Commission on Climate Change last year. Habitat will decline for some species, “other species will become extirpated, and other species will become extinct,” the commissioners reported.

Now, scientists at William and Mary are predicting “catastrophic impacts” to certain marsh birds. In October, they reported that the earth’s sea levels will rise by .5 to 2 meters, which will inundate coastal marshes, a critical habitat for some bird species. “Sea-level in the Chesapeake Bay is already rising two times faster than the global average and the barrier islands of Maryland and Virginia’s eastern shore are quickly vanishing under rising waters,” says their October study. “Taken together, these patterns suggest that projected patterns of sea-level may result in catastrophic impacts to bird populations in the Chesapeake Bay region with broader continental-scale implications.”

These researchers forecast a “grim outlook” for wetland birds like the clapper rail, Virginia rail, willet, seaside sparrow and marsh wren, species that could see population declines of nearly 80 percent. “High marsh species such as the black rail, saltmarsh sparrow and Henslow’s sparrow are already at risk of extirpation from the region,” they warn.

These are alarming findings. We need to let our U. S. Senators know and to urge them to act.

Contact Our Senators
Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb are considered to be “swing votes” on climate change legislation in the Senate. Senator Warner told one group of conservationists, “I’m hearing more from the ‘other side’ than I am from your side.”

Please email and write Senators Warner and Webb NOW and ask them to support a strong climate change bill now. We need to keep up the momentum and continue to let me know that we care.

[Note: We have heard that some legislators do not take e-mails into account because they are not certain the e-mailers are their constituents.]

They should pass a bill with these elements:
  • Reduce total U.S. global warming pollution by at least 80 percent by 2050 by cutting emissions from carbon-based fuels like coal and oil
  • Move to clean electricity through use of cleaner, renewable fuels
  • Strengthen energy efficiency. Virginia can cut electricity use by 19 percent through steps like tougher building codes, says the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy
  • Create new clean energy jobs. A University of Massachusetts analysis concluded a low-carbon economy could create 56,000 new clean energy jobs in Virginia
There are serious costs of inaction, from infrastructure damage caused by more intense weather events to providing health services to address more disease.

How to contact Virginia’s U. S. Senators:
Senator James Webb, U. S. Senate, Washington, D. C. 20510
Senator Mark Warner, U. S. Senate, Washington, D. C. 20510

For fact sheets on global warming, visit

Become a Stronger Advocate

On February 6, you can beef up your advocacy skills and learn all about how to measure your carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your home, business, church and life in general. Save the date for this workshop sponsored by the Northern Virginia Climate Action Network. Details forthcoming.

Check out Our Photo Album!

Have you seen a brown creeper lately? What about a cedar waxwing? If not, you can today, just by joining ASNV on Flickr.

Members of our FREE online photo album can upload and share photographs, swap stories and offer suggestions for great places for birding and wildlife photography. We hope you will share your pictures, take a look at ours and let us know what you think. Our photo gallery will highlight all the nature around us -- not just birds, but also insects, plants and Virginia's magnificent trees.

If you already have a Yahoo or Flickr account, joining is easy -- just click on join from our group page and select the pictures you'd like to share. If you are new to Flickr, then you will have to create an account before you can join our group. Just follow the easy steps on the Flickr website, and you will be set up in no time. Once your account is active, just go back to our group page and click join. (Please note, you do need to have at least five photos in your own gallery before Flickr will let you share with our group).

Winter Waterfowl Count

On Saturday, January 23, 2010, birders of all skill levels will join up to count waterfowl in Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William Counties, including the Potomac and Occoquan watersheds. Novice birders will be paired with expert bird enthusiasts. Studies have revealed that some waterfowl species are facing population decline and habitat loss. Join us in counting for conservation and collect important scientific data about trends in our local waterfowl population. Larry Cartwright is our volunteer compiler for this year’s waterfowl count.

For more information, or to join the team, please contact the ASNV office at or 703-256-6895.

Conservation Counts

Join Jim Waggener in his ongoing wildlife surveys at two of Northern Virginia's best birding spots. Surveys are held every Wednesday, 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
Upcoming dates
December 30
January 13
January 27

Getting there
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
Upcoming dates
December 23
January 6
January 20

Getting there
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.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Mark your calendars for February 12-15, 2010, the dates for the next GBBC. Details will be provided in upcoming newsletters. Meanwhile, you can visit for more information.

Cats Indoors! Brochures Available

An updated version of American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors! brochure is now available. The brochures and a companion DVD -- Trap, Neuter, Release: Bad for Cats Disaster for Birds -- can be ordered from the American Bird Conservancy's website.

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 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.

More Parks?

Fairfax County Auduboners have some forthcoming opportunities to advocate for more parks, more natural areas and more environmental education. The director of the Fairfax County Park Authority is having a series of “listening sessions” around the county to learn people’s concerns and ideas for improving our parks.

The forums are held on Thursday nights at 7 PM
January 21, 2010, Cabell’s Mill
February 18, 2010, Frying Pan Park

For more information, call 703-324-8662 or visit Fairfax County's Parks and Recreation website.

Important Election on January 12

On January 12, an election will be held in state Senate district 37, a seat now held by Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, who was elected Virginia Attorney General. The announced candidates are Steve Hunt (R) and Dave Marsden (D). The outcome of this election could have a significant impact on conservation legislation in the Senate. The district is roughly from Burke west to Centerville. Visit the Virginia General Assembly's website to find out who your state legislators are.

The Amazing Journey of the Red Knot

Darren Schroeder, Vice President of Conservation Advocacy, American Bird Conservancy will discuss the amazing Red Knot, a shorebird that makes one of the longest migrations in the world. Every spring, the rufa Red Knot migrates from Tiera Del Fuego in South America to its arctic breeding grounds. It stops in the Delaware Bay and feasts on horseshoe crab eggs to rebuild its energy reserves. Horseshoe crab eggs are declining and this bird may be threatened with extinction.

When: February 24, 7:30 PM Huntley Meadows Visitors Center, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, Virginia 22306.

ASNV, 4022 Hummer Road, Annandale, VA 22003 • Phone: 703-256-6895 • Fax: 703-256-2060 • Email:
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