February 2014
In This Issue
President's Message
Beginning Birding
Christmas Bird Count
Field Trips - Bird Walks
Birdathon is Coming
Advocacy Update
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 via email or phone (703-567-3555) for more details or to reserve your space.

General Surveys

Occoquan Bay NWR
  • February 26  
  • March 26  
Meadowood on Mason Neck 
  • February 12 
  • March 12       
Eakin Park Bird Walk
Hidden Oaks Nature Center (FCPA) sponsors weekly bird walks along the Accotink Stream Valley. Mondays,
7:00 AM March-Nov.;
7:30 AM Dec - Feb.

Help make a difference!
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 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.

Research Plant Value to Wildlife. ASNV is looking 
for a Virgina master naturalist, or other interested volunteer, willing to research the wildlife value of specific native plants. 

More information about these and other opportunities can be found here.

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 info@audubonva.org.
President's Message
ASNV's New Year Change


ASNV will soon have a new office manager in our cubicle at National Wildlife Federation.  While we will greatly miss Perry Macdonald, we are lucky to have Laura Stephens McDonald filling this important role beginning in the near future.  Perry is moving out of the state, and Laura is finishing a degree at GMU.  Exact timing for this switch is still in flux.  We are indebted to Perry for her tireless efforts on behalf of ASNV.  She put in many hours as a volunteer because our shoe-string budget does not include "overtime" for this vital "part-time" position.  Perry has been a true Jill-of-all-trades!  Laura is familiar to many members and friends because she actually held this administrative position some years ago.  We'll all benefit from her institutional knowledge and her familiarity with our mission and programs.


Another departing part-timer and tireless leader is Nippy Page.  After Cliff Fairweather left, Nippy volunteered to help coordinate the Audubon at Home wildlife sanctuary certification program.  She has moved us a lot farther along on the road to self-sustainability than when she started.  We gratefully wish Nippy all the very best as she and her husband return to take up residence in North Carolina.  To help continue the central office coordinator's role, we are extremely fortunate to have Dorothy McGowan, who has volunteered to learn the ropes and work with our regional Audubon at Home volunteer coordinators.  Dorothy is a Fairfax Master Naturalist and avid ecosystem gardener.


Over the last couple months, some are aware that ASNV has been asked to weigh in on public policy issues, including cats, windmills, and Lyme disease.  We are co-signatories on Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy's policy recommendations to Loudoun supervisors on lyme disease mitigation.  For details, see the LWC website.  We are studying the proposal for a "green energy triangle" project by a Lorton landfill operator that includes three wind turbines to generate energy for the Lorton Arts Complex now owned by the county.  I'm happy to provide info to anyone interested.  Finally, we have been successful in opening a dialogue with Fairfax County on a "cats indoors" campaign.  Glenda Booth and Joanne Bauer have taken the lead in this piece of advocacy.  It's clear we've managed to develop a prominent voice, which is pretty good work for an all-volunteer operation!  Thanks for your support!

Terry Liercke


Beginning Birding

Are you a beginning birder interested in improving your birding skills? Or maybe you're completely new to birding, and want to know how to get started? Join us for a workshop and a series of field trips meant just for you. In the classroom session, we'll talk about different approaches to birding, and introduce some birding tools and resources, such as binoculars, field guides, and apps. In our three field trips, we'll visit three local "birding hot spots" to do some birding at a pace intended to help you improve your skills. There is no substitute for getting out there! It should be a lot of fun. Limit 20.

Cost:  $35 for ASNV members, $45 for non-members  

Classroom Session: Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm. Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Field Trips:  Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 8:00 am - 12:00 noon. Location TBA.

Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 8:00 am - 12:00 noon. Location TBA.

Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 8:00 am - 12:00 noon. Location TBA.

Instructors:  Carl Kikuchi and Dixie Sommers


Spring Warblers

Brush up on these little beauties at the height of 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. Limit 25.

Cost: $30.00 for members, $40 for non-members.

Classroom: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA 22030. Room TBA.

Field Trip: Saturday, May 3, 2014, 8:00 am to 11:00 am. Site TBA.

Instructor: Larry Meade is President of the Northern Virginia Bird Club, and a former Board member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology. He has served as a Sector Leader for a number of years for several of our local Christmas Bird Counts and is an avid nature photographer (uberlarry.smugmug.com).


Results of the 2013

 2013 Manassas-Bull Run

Christmas Bird Count


The 32nd Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count was conducted on December 15, 2013.   A cloudy morning gave way to a sunny, breezy afternoon and a total of 119 people counted 84 species and 24,110 birds.   The overall results were very good and in line with the experience of our previous several years and higher than our past 15 year average. The 119 birders are the most we have ever had on our M-BR CBC and the number of birds counted is the highest since 2003.

Among the interesting finds this year was the first time ever sighting of a Cacklilng Goose by Phil Kenny, Russ Taylor and Margaret Greishaber. We had (relatively) high numbers of such interesting birds as Northern Bobwhite (two coveys), Common Loon (second sighting ever and first since 1990), Brown Thrasher, American Pipit and American Tree Sparrow. Additionally, we had 8 all-time high species numbers (Horned Grebe, Black Vulture, Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Hawk, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Fish Crow, Carolina Wren, and Eastern Bluebird). We cannot discount good fortune in these findings and we acknowledge the (slightly) increased number of counters; however, most of the credit goes to the care and diligence of these counters who did a really good job of finding and identifying birds. One measure of this attentiveness is that 15 species were seen only one time during the count.


In terms of species trends, Blue Jay, American and Fish Crows, Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse are near or beyond the upper end of our historic numbers for them. Woodpeckers overall are doing well, as are Northern Cardinals. Bluebirds seem to have rebounded from the harsh snows of three winters ago to all time highs last year and again this year. American Kestrel and Merlin are hanging on with a few of each species reported each year.


Copies of the full results for the count will be available shortly from the ASNV website, the ASNV office, any of our sector leaders, or the compiler, Bob Shipman.


We gratefully thank all the enthusiastic birders who came out this year and counted so well!

Field Trips - Bird Walks


Ocean City, MD

Saturday, February 15, All day

Reservations required; deadline 9:00 PM Weds., Feb. 12

Our annual trip to search for wintering waterfowl will visit West Ocean City Pond, the OC Inlet, Indian River Inlet, Silver Lake and any other points where birds of interest are being reported. We'll take a lunch break at a condo on Assawoman Bay and check the grounds there. Trip will end around 4 PM. Limit 12. Make reservations with Carol & Jay Hadlock at carol_inawren@verizon.net or 703-437-7451. More detailed information and carpool options will be given at time of reservation.

Getting there: Hadlocks will meet participants in Ocean City. Driving directions will be given with reservation.


Great Backyard Bird Count

Walker Nature Center, Reston, VA

Sunday, February 16, 1-4:00 PM

The event is intended for families and will include a feeder watch, bird walks, and a bird identification slide show.  ASNV naturalists will be on hand throughout the afternoon to assist with bird ID and answer questions about the GBBC.  Participants can join the fun at any time between 1:00 and 4:00 PM.


Reston Lakes

Sunday, February 23, 8-11:00 AM


Note: the date for this walk was originally Febrary 9; but has been postponed to February 23 due to ice and scarcity of ducks and geese. We've been doing this excursion for 5+ years and every year something interesting turns up on one or more of the lakes. Join Jay & Carol Hadlock to see what it will be this year.


We will start at Lake Newport and caravan to L. Anne, L. Audubon and L. Thoreau.

Getting there: Meet in the parking lot for the tennis courts on Village Rd., north of Baron Cameron Ave.  


Occoquon NWR

Saturday, March 1, 8:00 AM

Dixie Sommers and Phil Silas will lead this walk, looking for lingering winter waterfowl and any early arriving land birds. Plan to spend most of the morning.

Getting there: The refuge is located at the end of Dawson Beach Rd. in Woodbridge, VA. There is a fee; honor system; pay at the entrance. Meet Dixie and Phil in the parking lot.  

Birdathon is Coming!!


Spring is only a few months away, which means it's time to start planning for Birdathon, a competition where teams take to the field to find as many birds as possible in a specific time period during late April/early May.


The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia wants to make the 2014 Birdathon the BIGGEST, BEST & MOST FUN competition ever.


Nature center vs. nature center, teen-only teams, a big-sit format & women vs. men are just a few of the team compositions we've brainstormed. We need more of your thoughts to make this a success! So drop us a line if you have a team idea or you want to donate a prize. Or just give us your name if you want to be assigned to a group: 703-438-6008 or info@audubonva.org .


And, yes, this is a fundraiser & we need pledges. But in exchange for a few dollars, we promise a great time & fun prizes. A winter weekend in a condo on Maryland's Assawoman Bay with views of buffleheads & mergansers is already on our prize list, and we're hoping for a bevy of others.


Thanks for your help and support. ASNV could not do it without you!


Advocacy Update
Conservation Depends On You

New Virginia Environmental Official


Governor Terry McAuliffe has appointed Molly Ward as Virginia's Secretary of Natural Resources. Ward is the former mayor of Hampton. You can learn more about her at https://governor.virginia.gov/cabinet/natural-resources/.


Virginia General Assembly  


The General Assembly session is well underway in Richmond. Check out the major conservation bills at the Virginia Conservation Network's website http://vcnva.org/get-involved/voter-action-center/understanding-government-who-s-there-5/learn-about-conservation-priorities/vcn-legislative-positions .


Here's the main website for the General Assembly: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/. To share your views, you can call the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229; 804-698-1990 in Richmond.


Cats Indoors


President Terry Lierke had a letter in the Washington Post on January 27, which in part, pointed out the dangers to cats of allowing them to roam freely outdoors. You can read it here.  


Auduboners and a representative from the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) met with Kristin Auerbach of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter on February 4 to continue discussions on how to encourage people to keep cats indoors (See last newsletter). Read more... 


Dyke Marsh Restoration Plan; Public Meeting February 12  


The National Park Service has made available the draft Dyke Marsh Restoration and Long-term Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that presents and evaluates management options for the restoration of Dyke Marsh. The document includes a preferred alternative, called Alternative C. Read more... 


Parks Needs Assessment


Mary Cortina, member of the Board of the Fairfax County Park Authority, wrote us on January 17, 2014 to say that "the next big thing is the needs assessment," a document that drives many park planning decisions.   At this link www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/needsassessment.htm, you can learn about the last assessment conducted in 2004. She wrote that the Park Authority will reach out to the community soon and seek input. This is a great opportunity for Auduboners to influence Fairfax County park policies and budgets. Please email me your suggestions to gbooth123@aol.com.


Park Authority Adopted a Natural Resource Management Plan


The Fairfax County Park Authority Board adopted a new Natural Resource Management Plan on January 29, which outlines steps to protect, restore and manage some of the county's natural resources. ASNV commented on the draft plan. Read more... 


Chesapeake Bay Restoration, the Virginia Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan  


The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is presenting preliminary water quality improvement milestones and the NPS Management Plan update on February 25, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The morning session will focus on Chesapeake Bay milestone development and the afternoon session will focus on NPS Management Plan development and milestones. Read more... 



Two New Members of Congress this Year


Congressmen Jim Moran (D-8) and Frank Wolf (R-10) have announced their retirements from the U.S. House of Representatives. The parties will nominate their candidate before July (and independents may run) and Virginians will vote on all House of Representatives' positions in November, as well as one U.S. Senate position, now held by Sen. Mark Warner (D). Campaigns offer many opportunities for people to learn candidates' views and stress the importance of conservation.


Other News
Take Back the Forest

Next spring there will be a HUGE push to control invasive species in Fairfax County parks & Take Back the Forest.  Over 500 volunteers will work to remove invasive plants, replant native plants, and restore local forests back to health.  All volunteers will get a free t-shirt. We invite young artists from Fairfax County (ages 12-18) to design artwork for a t-shirt that captures our theme of Take Back the Forest.
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...

What's Happening to Frogs?
Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center - March 2, 3 PM

The Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Friends of Little Hunting Creek will host a program for all ages on frogs, species commonly found in Virginia, their status and threats. The program is free and open to the public. More information at www.fodm.org.