Hello Everybody!

Ready for the holidays? Well, we are and we've got a lot of activities for you from the Christmas Bird Count coming up on the 18th (tomorrow!) and the Winter Waterfowl count in January. Lots of room for everyone. And, while it appears that our December Audubon Afternoon sold out, we'll see if we can get author Katie Fallon back for another talk sometime in the future for those of you who missed her.

The holiday season is also a time for giving thanks and our first goes to you, the membership, for all the support you have given us throughout the year. But there are others too, for example the Clydes Restaurant Group whose generosity over the past two years has enabled us to have really successful Birdathons which are very important fund raising events for us. We only do two a year as you know, so if you want to support those who support us, check out the Clydes website for really interesting dining options at one of their 13 locations. And, we really appreciate those of you who get matching contributions from your employer, such as Exxon Mobil, Northrop Grumman and several others so you might see if your employer will do the same.

Hard to tell at this point what kind of winter we'll have but please do enjoy the holidays and stay safe.

Happy holidays, and please stay in touch, Bruce

ASNV’s Annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count is Tomorrow!!

ASNV’s Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 18. 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 west Fairfax City.

As in the past, we’ll be offering a hot lunch to participants. We have had good turnouts the past couple of years, but we still need new volunteers. Those of you who participated last year should have been contacted by your sector leader by now to ask about this year. If you haven’t heard from your sector leader, or if you would like to be in a different sector, contact the ASNV office at the address below. Also, this year, we will again offer 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 an alternate way to participate.

If you are new to CBCs and want to volunteer, contact the ASNV office by e-mail info@audubonva.org, or call 703-438-6008. Look for a summary of results in next month’s newsletter.

On-going recruitment for part-time ASNV administrator -- applications invited by January 9

Following up on Bruce's note in the October newsletter, we'd like to remind our readers that Jill Miller will be moving on in the spring, and we will continue to entertain applications for this part-time administrative position through the first week in January. Anyone interested should send an email, along with a resume or CV to info@audubonva.org by January 9. We'll be reviewing applications during January.

Our ASNV administrative assistant is the multi-talented Jack or Jill-of-all-trades who is often the first point of contact with membership and the public who contact our chapter. A job description is available from Jill Miller at the above email address, but in essence includes good people skills, good computer skills, ability to draft routine correspondence, and maintain the organization's calendar, records, and membership data. Assistance in scheduling our classes and workshops is also needed, as a well as a strong interest in the Audubon mission of protecting birds and native wildlife habitat throughout Northern Virginia. The job will entail about 15 hours per week. Office space is located at the National Wildlife Federation headquarters in Reston. Volunteer-driven ASNV offers our region fun and exciting opportunities in environmental education, field trips, citizen science, advocacy, and outreach in eco-friendly gardening and landscaping. Compensation is modest, but the sense of accomplishment and involvement is great!

Audubon at Home Grows Into a New Year

Cliff Fairweather, ASNV Naturalist

2011 was a busy year for the Audubon at Home (AAH) program and, with our Together Green Grant, 2012 promises to be equally busy. Thanks to our volunteer Ambassadors and participating property owners and managers, we have certified 58 AAH Wildlife Sanctuaries totaling a little over 500 acres since the program began in 2010. Ambassadors have also conducted over 135 property consultations during this period. These have ranged from small yards in Arlington to local parks to homeowner common properties.

As a result of ASNV’s participation in the Fairfax County Restoration Project, we were contacted by homeowners associations at the Raintree and Bristow Village communities to help them plan their efforts to restore common areas disturbed by beltway hotlanes construction. Working with these homeowners associations allows us to influence the management of more land in the direction of wildlife habitat and to reach more homeowners. Moreover, working with FCRP is an example of how AAH expands its reach through effective partnerships.

Partnerships will be the key to continuing our success in 2012. Our Together Green Innovation Grant work will kick into high gear in 2012 as we work with Earth Sangha, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (HfH) and the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS). Earth Sangha and VNPS are helping us create native plant starter kits for purchase by homeowners. These kits will include a mix of native shrubs and wildflowers, along with fact sheets for each species, planting and care instructions and ideas for creating wildlife habitat.

A major hurdle to planting native plants can be finding them in the first place. We expect the starter kits to help lower that barrier and “kick-start” more Northern Virginians into creating wildlife habitat on their property. Starter kits will also be provided free to some HfH clients to help broaden the audience for wildlife habitat. Our work with HfH will include a habitat garden at Perry Hall, a multifamily dwelling in Arlington, which will serve a dozen families.

We have an ambitious agenda for 2012, but we are confident that with our volunteers and partners, we can grow that agenda into even more success for AAH.

Beyond Coal

Attend this free, public event to learn more about how conservation-minded Virginians can urge smart energy solutions -- efficiency, solar power and bird-safe wind facilities, for example -- investments that would create tens of thousands of green jobs and stem global warming. The featured speaker is Phillip Ellis, field organizer for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. He will discuss how to move electricity-generating plants to cleaner energy sources. Attendees can also learn how to get involved and make a difference in moving the nation toward a cleaner energy future.

RSVP required: Call 703-528-5406 to reserve your space.

When: Sunday, January 22, 2 - 4 PM
Where: Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington, Va.

Birding with Dr. Andrew Dolby at Stratford Hall in 2012

A series of four programs is scheduled in 2012 with Dr. Andrew Dolby, chair of the University of Mary Washington's Department of Biological Sciences and president of the Virginia Society of Ornithology. Dr. Dolby's research interests include the evolution of bird song complexity and its functions. He teaches courses in ornithology, animal behavior, ecology, and evolution. A presentation he brought to ASNV in 2009 was fascinating and exceptionally well received. This educational series will take place at Stratford Hall on the scenic Northern Neck about 40 miles from Fredericksburg, at 483 Great House Road in Stratford, Virginia. The programs will take place from 9a.m. to 1 p.m. and cost $25 per person. Attendees are invited to spend the night at Stratford Hall for an additional $85 per night, which includes continental breakfast. The area is also great for birding.

For information or to register please contact Jon Bachman at rsvp@stratfordhall.org or call 804-493-8030 ext. 2010. Program dates are as follows:

January 14, 2012: Left Out in the Cold, discussing how such small warm-blooded animals with impressive energetic demands survive winter cold and food scarcity. This presentation will cover both anatomical and physiological adaptations that allow birds to cope with the challenges of winter.

April 21, 2012: Songs and Calls: No Idle Chatter, covers the sophisticated avian communication system, along with the anatomy, physiology, and ecology of bird song. It will explain the modern tools that biologists are using to decipher their hidden messages.

June 16, 2012: Nesting and Chick Development: Nature's Architects, will discuss astonishingly complex nest architecture, as well as the most frugal nesting behavior that has evolved to protect eggs and developing young in different environments.,

September 29, 2012: Bird Migration: Nature's Incredible Journey, delves into the physiological, ecological, and behavioral mechanisms that make possible one of the great athletic performances in all of nature -- the regular mass movement of birds from over vast, often inhospitable distances. Discussion covers advances in modern technology that have allowed increasingly detailed study of bird migration.

Upcoming Field Trips

Registration is not required unless noted. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or info@audubonva.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.

No local walks are scheduled this month. Please volunteer to help with the Christmas Bird Counts taking place in Northern Virginia this month.

Difficult Run Stream Valley Park

Sunday, January 8, 10 AM - noon
Limit 10 kids, reservations required. For details, contact Sean by email at sean.duffy@fcps.edu
Kids in grades 1-6 will enjoy this walk with Sean Duffy, learning about winter birds. Must be accompanied by an adult. Click here for complete details, directions and reservation / payment information.

Waterfowl Survey

Saturday and Sunday, January 22-22
Not a walk, exactly, but some of the best birding this month will be had by participating in the ASNV Waterfowl Survey. Contact the office at 703-438-6008 or info@audubonva.org for details and to sign up. Click here for complete details, directions.

Virginia Beach Weekend

FULL -- Call to be put on a waiting list
Friday, January 27 - Sunday, January 29
Reservations required. Cost: $20, plus extra for police escort on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel islands and a tram ride at Back Bay NWR. Limit 20. RSVP to Ray Smith at 571-286-7856 or bluebird58@verizon.net. After registering with Ray, please send your check for $20, made payable to ASNV, to ASNV, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Suite 100, Reston, VA, 2019020190.
This unique winter trip, led by Ray Smith, will include the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel islands, Back Bay NWR, Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR, Kiptopeke State Park and other interesting places. Many unusual birds are possible, including harlequin ducks, purple sandpipers, eiders, gannets and more.Click here for complete details, directions and reservation / payment information.

Rappahannock River and Northern Neck

Saturday, February 4, all day
Fee $20. Reservations required. Maximum 12 people/4-5 cars. For details and to register, email Sean at sean.duffy@fcps.edu. After you have registered, send your check for $20, payable to ASNV, to ASNV, 11100 Wildlife Drive, Reston, VA 20190.
If you missed the weekend Northern Neck trip, here’s a second chance to see many of the same birds. Sean Duffy knows the good places to visit for eagles and other raptors, waterfowl, rusty blackbirds and red-headed woodpeckers, and maybe an end-of-the-day search for short-eared owls. Click here for complete details, directions and reservation / payment information.

And more!!

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.

Winter Waterfowl Workshop

A waterfowl identification workshop as a prep for the annual Winter Waterfowl Survey on January 21 and 22. The session will focus on basic identification skills for common wintering waterfowl in the area. We will look at both drakes and hens. The workshop will be conducted at Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and State Park overlooking the Great Marsh and Belmont Bay. To register, contact the ASNV office via phone (703-438-6008) or email.

Note: The Waterfowl Survey will take place during the weekend of January 21 and 22. The survey takes place at various points along the Potomac River and at inland lakes, ponds and other standing bodies of water that attract waterfowl. Birders of all levels are welcome. To volunteer for the survey, contact info@audubonva.org or call 703-438-6008.

When: Saturday, January 14, 9AM
Where: Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Meet at the Wood Marsh Trail parking lot. From Route 1, proceed down Gunston Road until you see the signs for the refuge and state park on your right (4 or 5 miles) at High Point Road. Wood Marsh Trail Parking lot will be on your left approximately 1 mile down High Point Road.
Cost: Free
Instructor: Larry Cartwright, Waterfowl Survey Coordinator
Limit: 20 participants

Winter Tree Identification

Class: Thursday, February 9, 7-9 PM
Field trip: Sunday, February 12, 9 AM - noon

Introduction to winter tree identification based on features such as branching structure, bark, buds, leaf scars, as well as other clues, including persistent and fallen fruits and leaves, aromatic twigs, and habitat. One two hour lecture and one field trip. For directions and additional information, click here.

Wetlands: Watersheds to Plastic Pipes, and Beavers In-between

Sunday, February 12, 1-5 PM
Join Huntley Meadows Park Manager Kevin Munroe for a dynamic discussion about wetland ecology and management. After a summary and introduction about what makes a wetland, we’ll learn about the difference between habitat specialists and habitat generalists. Next we’ll use photos and monitoring data to explore the cycles of a beaver marsh, the inhabitants of a hemi-marsh, and the many issues connected with actively managing for biodiversity. We’ll end the class with an update and discussion regarding Huntley’s wetland restoration project, one of the largest ecological restoration projects attempted in Northern VA.

After a break and opportunity to explore the park’s exhibit-filled visitor center, we’ll head out for a two-hour guided nature walk into the park’s woodlands and wetland boardwalk, ending in a climb up the wildlife observation tower. We’ll use the walk to look for and examine concepts discussed during the class, including wetland ecology, management techniques and challenges, biodiversity in a suburban setting and hemi-marsh wildlife. Bring your binoculars and help us find winter ducks, bald eagles, snipe, swamp sparrows, beavers, muskrat lodges and other wetland wildlife. For directions and additional information, click here.


Sunday, February 26, 10 AM - 3 PM
Geologist Dr. Barbara Frank will teach a course with a general introduction to earth materials and geologic time followed by a hike to see folded mountain features, igneous activity dating back to Paleozoic Period. Present day processes, such as erosion and weathering , in particular pothole formation, frost-wedging will be covered. For directions and additional information, click here.

Flying WILD

Saturday, March 10, 11 AM - 3 PM
If you would like to learn about birds and how to provide some fun birding activities to kids and adults, sign up for Flying WILD. Flying WILD is a conservation education guide featuring interdisciplinary hands-on classroom and outdoor activities. You will receive a guide and curriculum that contains activities and lesson plans. Key concepts include migration, adaptation, the importance of habitat, and bird conservation efforts. The curriculum was originally designed for middle school teachers and students, but the guide contains activities suitable for anyone who wants to teach about birds. For directions and additional information, click here.

Spring Wildflowers

Class: Thursday, April 19, 7-9:30 PM
Field trip: Saturday, April 21, 10 AM - noon

Did you know that ants are the seed dispersers for 30% of spring wildflowers? Learn how to pronounce myrmecochory, how to identify some common spring wildflowers and plant families, and the folklore associated with plants in this area. The field trip will be held at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County Park Authority’s only riverfront park which has over 400 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds. Riverbend’s location along the Potomac River makes it a naturally unique and sensitive area with spectacular spring wildflowers. For directions and additional information, click here.

Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You

Make Conservation Count

Join Virginia Conservation Network, the Garden Club of Virginia, and countless volunteers as we take our conservation priorities to the Capitol on January 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM.

Whether you discuss energy efficiency, green building, natural resource protection or other important conservation issues, your legislators need to hear from you. Every year General Assembly members learn important information about how to do the right thing for the environment from citizens like you. Not to mention that by taking the time to discuss your position on specific legislation you hold them accountable for their vote. We will gather in Richmond for briefings on the environmental issues the Virginia General Assembly will tackle and for some advocacy training.

RSVP online to reserve your space!

Cost: $30.00 (includes lunch and materials)

Getting there: Richmond CenterStage is located in downtown Richmond, between 6th and 7th Streets, and Broad and Grace Streets. The entrance to Rhythm Hall is located on the corner of East Grace Street and 7th Street.

Visiting your lawmakers: Participants are strongly encouraged to make appointments to visit their legislators on the 23rd and to leave the workshop as necessary to keep appointments. (Find your legislator online)

We will be sure to share talking points and positions on specific legislation at Conservation Lobby Day. In the meantime, you can take advantage of VCN's Conservation Briefing Book to learn background information on anticipated bills. With your help, we can keep changing Virginia for the better. Please register today.

EPA Is Under Attack

There have been many efforts in the current U.S. Congress to weaken the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to protect the environment and some legislators even want to abolish the EPA. One example: EPA will soon issue new limits on emissions of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, that can affect pregnant women, children and wildlife. Among birds, loons have the highest mercury poisoning of any bird species. Opponents may try to block EPA’s mercury limits.

Let Virginia’s U.S. senators and congressmen know you want them to oppose measures that would disable EPA. You can send your own letter, or click here to send a letter provided by the National Audubon Society.

You can contact Virginia’s Members of Congress via their websites at www.senate.gov or www.house.gov.

Advocate for Parks and Natural Areas

As local governments start to develop their budgets for the coming year, it’s a very opportune time to advocate for more resources for local parks and more natural areas with your local elected officials.

Encourage More Trees

Virginia may get a Virginia Loves Trees license plate if 450 applications are sent in and approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. All 450 must be ordered this calendar year. You don't have to wait until your current registration is up. Info at www.valovestrees.org.

Upcoming Events

Save the date!

Our Winter Waterfowl Survey will be January 21 and 22. The survey takes place at various points along the Potomac River and at inland lakes, ponds and other standing bodies of water that attract waterfowl. To sign up, send your name, address and contact information to info@audubonva.org or call 703-438-6008.

If you want to brush up on your waterfowl identification skills, take the free Waterfowl ID workshop on January 14. See details in the LEAPP listings.

Conservation Counts

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

Upcoming dates
  • December 28
  • January 25
  • February 29
  • March 28
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
  • January 11
  • February 15
  • March 14
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.

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 cliff@audubonva.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.

ASNV, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Suite 100, Reston, Va 20190
703-438-6008 • info@audubonva.org

© 1999-2010 The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. All rights reserved.

Red Bug Media Email designed, edited and distributed by Red Bug Media.
Let Red Bug Media develop an e-newsletter for you or your organization. Contact us today and begin telling your story tomorrow.