February 2015

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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

Meadowood on Mason Neck

  • February 11
  • March 11

Occoquan Bay NWR

  • February 25
  • March 25

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys

Join Jim Waggener each Friday starting again in April in his ongoing survey of the butterflies and dragonflies at four locations in Fairfax and Prince William County. 

Eakin Park Bird Walk

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) sponsors weekly bird walks at Eakin Park  Mondays,
7:00 AM March-Nov.;
7:30 AM Dec - Feb.  Meet at Prosperity Ave. parking lot. Walk canceled if rain or severe weather. FREE

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.

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 Corner

It’s a great time of the year to get outdoors.  In my backyard, if we are lucky enough to have some fresh snow, we can see the tracks of our neighborhood red fox on its rounds – a reminder that there are wild lives being lived all around us, every day, whether we see them or not.  How can you not love that awareness?  It’s just like taking a deep breath, like discovering a reward right there in front of you.  Come on out for one of our upcoming bird walks – there’s one in Reston on Sunday, February  8 - information here.   If you are looking for a little more adventure, there are even still openings on Carol and Jay Hadlock’s field trip to Ocean City and other choice spots on the Eastern Shore to look for winter waterfowl. 

We are offering a scholarship this year for a local educator to attend “Educators’ Week” at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine from July 19 through July 24.  Applications are due February 28 - more information here.    Please pass this on to anyone who might be interested. 

If you haven’t yet marked your calendar, make a note now to join us for what should be a very interesting Audubon Afternoon on Sunday, March 22, when Ray Smith will talk to us about his recent trip to New Zealand. 
And in the meantime - get ready for spring!  We already have several workshops lined up for April and May, including Beginning Birding, Warblers, and Herps.  More info here.  Class sizes for all of these will be limited, so sign up early. 

Have a good month!
Carl Kikuchi

New Version of Website

A new version of the website is now up and running. The old version of the software used to provide the website is no longer supported by the developer. Although the look of the website has changed, it will function pretty much the same as the old version. In addition to continued support (including security updates) from the developer, the new version will work better with mobile devices. If you notice any problems, please send them to: webmaster@audubonva.org.

99 Reasons to be Fascinated by Birds

Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 7:30 pm
Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center

William Young will give a presentation based on his book, The Fascination of Birds:  From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat, released by Dover Publications in May, 2014.

The book explores the connections between birds and a broad range of subjects, such as biology, ecology, literature, music, history, politics, economics, religion, geography, physics, chemistry, linguistics, the visual arts, the performing arts, sports, and comedy.  The essays are arranged in alphabetical order by type of bird, and each essay has a subtitle about the context in which the birds is discussed. 
The book is intended to help beginners to better understand the birds they see and the bird references they encounter, and it might help experienced birders to learn more about many ornithological and cultural aspects of birds.
Sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh, the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, and the Northern Virginia Bird Club.  Admission is free.

Hog Island Scholarship


July 19-24, 2015

The Audubon Society of Northern VA is offering a professional development scholarship for a teacher, specialist or administrator. Please relay this to anyone you think might be interested and can benefit from it.


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. Jointly sponsored by ASNV and the Northern Virginia Bird Club.


Audubon Afternoons

Birding New Zealand

With Ray Smith

Sunday, March 22, 2015, 3-5 PM

National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive
Reston VA 20190

Join us for an afternoon Birding New Zealand! Ray and Anne Smith recently returned from a VENT birding trip to New Zealand that covered both of the main islands and many of the surrounding smaller islands. They found it so interesting and enjoyable that Ray has agreed to give us a talk about the experience.


Audubon at Home in Northern Virginia
Wildlife Sanctuary Certification through 2014

ASNV now has four years of experience with our community-based conservation outreach program promoting the principles of Audubon at Home.  Through personal contact with property owners, our partners, volunteers, and members are making an impact on restoration of natural ecosystems in our heavily urbanized region.  Over 90 percent of the land on the East Coast is privately held, so only with educated choices can we and our neighbors help stem the steady loss of natural habitat facing future generations.
Through 2013, 168 properties were certified as Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuaries amounting to approximately 1,729 acres.  In 2014, there were 83 new certifications covering some 1,270 acres.  Therefore to date we have certified 251 properties covering approximately 3,000 acres in five counties.  This represents around 1,200 hours of volunteer community service delivered by Virginia Master Naturalists, Virginia Master Gardeners, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Virginia Native Plant Society, along with our ASNV members, many of whom also belong to these same organizations.  We hope that some day every neighborhood in northern Virginia will have an ambassador who can coach and advise neighbors in reducing turf grass and invasive plants in favor of sustainable,  environmentally-friendly property management.

To track progress ASNV volunteer, Charlie Devine, is developing layered GIS maps using National Audubon's technical assistance.  Charlie reports as follows: "So far I have mapped each certified property participating in the Wildlife Sanctuary Program for years 2013 and 2014.  These properties will be included in the web map that will eventually be found on the ASNV website.  The goal is to create a user-friendly map interface that will allow users to observe the distribution of the properties in relation to each other and other significant geographic features, as well as to view trends in the program's growth over time.  Much thanks to all of the Audubon at Home county coordinators who have provided me with data!  Gathering data and building a database is always the hardest part of any GIS project, so your help has been greatly appreciated."  Charlie is also working on a Northern Virginia Bird Survey map, and invites people to be in touch with any questions they may have on this project.  Do look for progress reports as we gear up for the 2015 planting season.  Here's to "gardening as if life depended on it!"  Terry Liercke for AAH.

Honey Bees - January 11 2015

Thanks to German Perilla and Louise Edsall for a sweet Audubon Afternoon! If you would like more information about their honeybee programs or to schedule a visit please feel free to reach them at:

German Perilla, The Honey Bee Initiative, George Mason University
703 993 2252

Louise Edsall, Sweet Virginia Foundation


Herps and Herping!

Northern Virginia has a rich and diverse population of reptiles and amphibians. Learn more about them in a workshop led by Mark Khosravi, high school science teacher and part time Instructor and Naturalist for Fairfax County Park Authority. The two part class will feature an evening lecture and hands on presentation on field herping and techniques. Students will be given the opportunity to see and handle live specimens. The Tuesday classroom session will be followed by a two hour Saturday field trip to Huntley Meadows Park.

Read More

Results of the 2014 Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count

The 33rd Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count was conducted on December 14, 2014.   A cloudy morning gave way to a sunny, windy afternoon; for the day a total of 121 people counted 89 species and 23,690 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 121 birders are the most we have ever had on our CBC and the 89 species are an all-time high for our count.


ASNV’s Cats Indoors Initiative


Update on the Virginia Legislature’s Actions

We recently alerted our members to four bills under consideration by the Virginia General Assembly that would encourage feral cat colonies, called by some "community cats programs.” As of January 30, it appears that three of the bills have been stalled in committee. Several legislators and others working on the issue expressed their great appreciation for calls, emails and letters they got from Auduboners opposing these bills. Please continue your efforts.

Birdathon 2015

The days are getting longer, which means Birdathon 2015 can't be far behind. It's not too early to start organizing your teams for our  annual spring migration birding competition. It's a fun outing with an array of great prizes. And it raises much-needed contributions to
support ASNV's conservation and education programs.

The concept is simple:  Participants can bird in teams of two to five.  Team members then make their own donations or secure pledges from sponsors – friends, family members, colleagues, neighborhood merchants, etc. Pledges can be a flat sum for your participation or an amount for each species seen. Then, during any 24-hour period between April 24 and May 17, teams search Northern Virginia to see how many bird species they can identify. Don’t have time for the 24-hour event?  Consider signing up for the four-hour competition.  Details are still being planned, so stay tuned for updates, which will be posted on our Web site and in next month's Potomac Flier.

Native Seedling Sale Announced for 2015


Order by Monday, April 22, or until supplies run out. Orders may be picked up on Friday, May 1, 2015 from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., or Saturday, May 2, 2015 9:00 a.m.-noon.

Advocacy Update


The Virginia Legislature

The state legislature is in session until February 28, the target adjournment date.  See our article about the feral cats legislation and thank you ASNVers who contacted legislators and responded to our action alert. They heard us! There still an active bill, so act now.


Stop Spraying Caterpillars - Online Petition

ASNV has launched an online petition to urge Fairfax and Prince William counties to stop spraying an insecticide targeting the native fall cankerworm, an insecticide that potentially kills all exposed caterpillars in the spring when birds are migrating through and/or raising their young. Be sure to sign it at https://works.audubon.org/node/2651. It’s quick. And tell your member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to stop this spraying. Eleven organizations, local and national, are trying to convince the county to stop. You can see the list and other information here: http://www.audubonva.org/index.php/advocacy-efforts/asnv-urges-stop-killing-caterpillars.

Alexandria -- Stop Dumping Raw Sewage into the Potomac River

Part of Alexandria is served by a combined sewer system which dumps untreated sewage into streams flowing to the Potomac River during many storm events. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has given the city many permits for this system and in the most recent one is requiring the city to develop a long-term control plan for Hunting Creek bacteria no later than December 31, 2035. Repeat: 2035, 20 years from now!


Fairfax County Parks Plans

The Fairfax County Park Authority is developing several master plans for parks, great opportunities for ASNVers to weigh in:

Mount Vernon Woods

Located between the Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School and Huntley Meadows Park, the 7.1 acre Mount Vernon Woods Park has a large open lawn, playground, picnic pavilion and wooded area.  The park is classified as a local park, expected to serve the surrounding residential neighborhoods.  The park was first master planned in 1965 and developed with the existing features in addition to tennis courts and a baseball diamond that have since been removed. The Park Authority is undertaking this park master plan revision to consider new facilities. The plan could have an impact on Huntley Meadows Park. Comments can also be provided throughout the process by email to:parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov

Green Spring Gardens

Green Spring Gardens is focused on gardening and historic influences on the land and cultural resources. Green Spring Gardens offers a horticulture center, library, demonstration gardens, a historic landscape and buildings, and a wooded stream valley with ponds.

You can follow the park’s planning process at Green Spring Gardens Master Plan Revision and send written comments to Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Fort Hunt Park Site Development Plan

The National Park Service is preparing a plan for Fort Hunt Park in the Mount Vernon area. NPS will have a public meeting on February 5, 6:30 p.m., on a draft plan at Martha Washington Library, 6614 Fort Hunt Rd, Alexandria, VA 22307. To learn about the park, visit http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/planyourvisit/forthunt.htm .

Prince William “Eco-Park”

Prince William County is, according to its website, “transforming its landfill into a community resource, called an “Eco-Park.” http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/publicworks/trash/Pages/Eco-Park.aspx . Hopefully an Auduboner will investigate the details and merit.

The Congress

The National Audubon Society has outlined our national priorities for the coming year here. http://www.audubonaction.org/site/News2?abbr=aa_&page=NewsArticle&id=6163&pgwrap=n&utm_source=action&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2015-01-15-advisory#skip_interests

Be sure to visit the NAS advocacy website at http://www.audubon.org/conservation/advocacy.

Field Trips - Bird Walks


Reston Lakes Tour, Reston, VA

Meet the leaders, Carol and Jay Hadlock, at Lake Newport and from there we will caravan to Lake Anne, Lake Audubon, and Lake Thoreau, checking to see what interesting surprise waterfowl have turned up this year.

Getting there: Take Reston Parkway north from the Dulles Toll Road and turn right on Baron Cameron Ave. Meet in the parking lot for the tennis courts on Village Road, north of Baron Cameron Ave.

Sunday, February 8

7:30 – 10:30 AM

Ocean City, Maryland & Surroundings

Jay and Carol Hadlock will lead their annual trip to Ocean City with a stop in Cambridge MD to check for ducks on the Choptank River.  Other stops will be west OC pond, the Inlet, and possibly Assateague State Park or Indian River Inlet and Silver Lake in Rohobeth. Make reservations with Carol at carol_inawren@verizon.net or call 703-437-7451. Those registered and wishing to bird on Sunday should make their own overnight arrangements.

Saturday, February 21
Sunday, 2/22 (optional)
Reservations Required
$20 Fee payable to ASNV for reservation to be final.

Wolftrap, Reston, VA

Walk a Wolftrap Park sector with brook and pond to look for winter woodland birds.   Jean Tatalias and Elizabeth Fenton leaders.
Getting there: From Rt. 7, take Towlston Rd. to the park. Turn left at the first entrance to the parking lot and park near the road.  From Vienna, cross the Toll

Thursday, February 26
8:00AM to 10:30 AM

Walker Nature Center/Snakeden Stream Valley, Reston, VA

Matt Bender will lead this walk through woods and stream valley.

Getting there: From VA-267 W/Dulles Toll Road take exit 14 (Hunter Mill Road/VA-674). Turn left onto Hunter Mill Rd (VA-674), right onto Sunrise Valley Drive, left onto S Lakes Drive, left onto Twin Branches Rd. Then take third right onto Glade Drive.   Meet at the Nature House at 11450 Glade Drive in Reston.
Saturday March 15
7:30AM -10:30 AM
Delaware Bay Weekend Trip

Ray Smith will lead this trip meeting Friday at 3:00 PM in Lewes, Delaware at the Beacon Motel parking lot at 514 East Savannah Road, Lewes. The motel (1-302-645-4888) is on the main road in Lewes (Rte. 9) just over the bridge after the historic business district.  Birding locations will include Cape Henlopen State Park, Broad Kill Beach, Prime Hook, and Bombay Hook.  Detailed itinerary available upon registration with Ray at 571-286-7856 or bluebird58@verizon.net.
Friday May 29 through Sunday May 31
Reservations Required
$20 Fee payable to ASNV for reservation to be final

Other News

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...
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