February 2016

View this email in your browser

Quick Links

In this Newsletter

  • President's Corner
  • ASNV Winter Waterfowl Count
  • Red Headed Woodpecker During the Christmas Bird Count
  • Education
  • Audubon’s Hog Island Educator’s Week Scholarship
  • Audubon Afternoon
  • Hadlocks Receive Great Egret Award
  • Advocacy
  • Birdwalks and Field Trips
  • Other News
  • Birding in Costa Rica

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 10
  • March 16

Occoquan Bay NWR

  • February 24
  • March 30

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys

Regularly scheduled butterfly/ dragonfly surveys will resume in April 2016.

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

I haven’t seen any White-breasted Nuthatches in my yard since the blizzard, which surprises me a little bit. Most of my other regulars have made it back, the chickadees and the wrens, even some juncos searching in vain for bare ground, so maybe I just haven’t been at the window at the right time. “Natty” seems like the right word for them, with their clean white breast and short, neat tail; the downy woodpeckers look so much fuzzier in comparison. They are good to see any time of the year, but there is a particular pleasure seeing them in the winter. 
Join me in congratulating Betsy Martin, Fairfax County Coordinator for our Audubon at Home Ambassadors program.  Betsy and her husband, Paul Siegel, were recently recognized with an award from the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust for their conservation leadership, including Betsy’s work with Audubon at Home. 

Don’t miss our next Audubon Afternoon, on Sunday, March 6. Amy Johnson, Grassland Bird Coordinator and PhD candidate, will be speaking to us about the Virginia Working Landscapes project (VWL), a conservation initiative convened by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal. I think we all recognize that it is important for us to figure out the best ways for birds and people to live together, both in our working rural landscapes and in our own yards.  The VWL project addresses an important part of that problem, particularly for grassland birds like meadowlarks and boblinks.   Should be a very informative talk.

ASNV is one of several co-sponsors for a talk by Dr. David Luther on February 28 on the effect of environmental noise on bird communication. This is a program offered by the Friends of Dyke Marsh. More info at http://www.fodm.org/images/Birdsandnoise.pdf.

Have a good month. 
Carl Kikuchi

ASNV Winter Waterfowl Count

The ASNV Winter Waterfowl Count will be conducted Saturday and Sunday, February 6 & 7, 2016.  We have decided to push the count back one week to avoid overlap with waterfowl hunting season.  Volunteer teams survey the Potomac River from Algonkian Regional Park in Loudoun County south to Quantico Marine Base in Prince William County. Several important inland ponds, lakes, and marshes are also surveyed.  ASNV will have a sign-up sheet for volunteers.  Call 703-438-6008 or email info@audubonva.org to  register.   Compiler Larry Cartwright will also contact veteran volunteers beginning in early January.

2015 Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count Summary

Our 34th annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count was held on December 20, 2015.  We got some relief from unusually hot December weather when the day started below freezing and then Count Day temps topped out in the 40s with bright sun and breezes.  We had a record high number of participants with 129 people counting just over 20,000 birds among 80 species.  While the bird numbers and species were down slightly from last year, they are within past 15 year averages.
At the same time, we counted all-time highs for one-fifth of the species seen.  Included in those 16 species were Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Towhee, Song Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow and American Goldfinch.  Incredibly, in six of the seven woodpecker species we saw all-time highs.  People all over are reporting high numbers of Red-headed Woodpeckers; we saw 50 (our previous high was 11).  For Bald Eagles, we counted more than ever before, both for adults and immatures.  Common Raven sightings continue to increase – an all-time high of 9 this year. Read more.

Red Headed Woodpecker During the Christmas Bird Count


Red Headed Woodpecker - Janis StoneNumbers normally rise and fall for many bird species during the annual Christmas Bird Counts, but the increased sightings of one bird in particular is nothing short of “amazing,’’ says Robert Shipman.

The spotting of Red-headed Woodpeckers is off the charts, says Shipman who oversees the Manassas-Bull Run count for the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. At the 34th annual count conducted on Dec. 20, he compiled 50 sightings of Red-headed Woodpeckers. The previous high was 11 in 1984. Last year, Shipman’s teams spotted only one. “It’s this year’s irruption,’’ he says. “They’ve just exploded. To ascend the way they have is a real story. It is unparalleled.” Read more.



Ethnobotany of Flowers
Class: April 7; Field Trip: April 9

Join us for an introduction to Ethnobotany, the intersection of the study of people and plants, with instructor Alonso Abugattas. Find out the legends and the uses of the famous and infamous plants: Night Shade to Common Chokecherry, Arrow to Arrowood. Each one has a story, history and use. Alonso will lead a field trip to see plants in our area that Native and Non-native Americans used. You'll also learn how to collect and use them yourself.  The field trip will be at Riverbend Park where you'll enjoy the beauty of spring along the Potomac.Read more.

Birding by Ear Boot Camp

April 30, 2016

Join Joette Borzik, West Virginia Master Naturalist and Master Birder for a one-day Birding by Ear Boot Camp. Are you ready to take your birding skills to a higher level? Joette, being a bird song enthusiast, uses repetition, active listening, quizzing and other techniques to help you learn bird song in a fun and non-intimidating environment. Read more.

Spring Warblers

Just in time for 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 12, 2016, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Annandale High School, 4700 Medford Dr, Annandale, VA 22003.  Room TBA.

Field Trip:  Saturday, May 14, 2016, 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 (http://uberlarry.smugmug.com/). Register here.

Audubon’s Hog Island Educator’s Week Scholarship 


Sharing Nature:  An Educator's Week, July 17-22

Application Deadline: Feb. 15

Do you know an exemplary science teacher? Please encourage them to apply.
ASNV is providing a full scholarship and transportation costs to a week long educators camp in Hog Island Maine, July 17-22, 2016. For details about Hog Island and this year’s camps for teachers and other programs see their website.

Audubon Afternoon


Sunday, March 6, 2016, 3:00 – 5:00 pm

National  Wildlife Federation Building
11100 Wildlife Center Dr.
Reston, VA 20190

Amy JohnsonJoin us for Amy Johnson’s presentation, “Virginia Working Landscapes: Connecting communities for grassland bird conservation and research” that will focus on her research and the excellent work being done by VWL.
North America’s grassland birds have declined more so than any other guild of bird species.  With more than 80% of remaining grassland habitat on private lands, it is essential that conservation research address how private land management influences grassland-dependent species.  Read more.

Hadlocks Receive Great Egret Award

Congratulations to Carol and Jay Hadlock, volunteers extraordinaire and pioneers with the  Audubon at Home program on their special recognition from ASNV and the National Audubon Society. The Hadlock’s were presented  with The Great Egret Award at our January Audubon Afternoon. For over 20 years they have been exemplary leaders,  sharing our mission, opening their home as an outdoor classroom and leading countless field trips. Their continued support is what makes this all-volunteer organization so successful. Kudos Carol and Jay!



Weigh in with State Legislators

The Virginia General Assembly convened on January 13 and will be session for 60 days.  Hearings and consideration of many bills are underway. For information, visit http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/.  You can also find committee assignments of members of the Senate and House of Delegates at http://www.vpap.org/general-assembly/standing-committees/. To find your legislators, visit http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/. For bills, visit http://lis.virginia.gov/ and http://www.vpap.org/updates/2116-your-guide-general-assembly/.  You can also check the website of the Virginia Conservation Network, www.vcnva.org.

You Don’t Have to Go to Richmond

Throughout the session, legislators hold town meetings in their home districts.  Check with yours for times and places.  These meetings offer a great opportunity to raise conservation issues without having to travel to the state capital.

Virginia Should Address Climate Change

Legislators have introduced bills to thwart and delay efforts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Power Plan, a plan designed to stem greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.  Let your legislators know that they should support a healthy environment and should oppose these bills. 

Presidential Primaries

Virginia will hold Democratic and Republican Presidential Primaries on March 1.  To vote in these primaries, you must register to vote by February 8, 5 p.m.

Other dates:
  • May 3, Clifton and Vienna town elections
  • June 14, primary election (if called) for nominees for the U.S.  House of Representatives
More info:  www.vote.virginia.gov.

New Park Board Member

New Fairfax Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith appointed Marguerite (Maggie) F. Godbold to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board recently as the Sully District Representative for a four-year term. The county’s press release reported this: “Godbold grew up in Northern Virginia and has been a resident of the Sully District of Fairfax County for over 30 years, currently residing in Oak Hill, VA. She is an avid birdwatcher and environmentalist, and an amateur musician. She is passionate about increasing access to the outdoors and arts for all Fairfax residents.” The Park Board sets policy and establishes agency priorities. For information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/board/ or call the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.

Congressman Beyer's Town Meeting

Congressman Don Beyer,  who represents Virginia's 8th district, will hold a town meeting on February 8, 7 p.m., at the James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church, VA 22042. This is a great opportunity for Auduboners to share concerns and to advocate for stronger conservation policies.

Birdwalks and Field Trips


Riverbend Park (Visitor Center), Fairfax County, VA

Join us to survey the river for winter waterfowl, walking up and down river from the boat ramp.  This is always a great area to enjoy the variety of ducks on the river in winter. Bring your scope if you have one!  Jean Tatalias leads.

Getting there:  Georgetown Pike (Rte 193) to Riverbend Road (Rte 603).  In 0.2 miles turn right on Jeffery Road and go 0.8 miles to park entrance sign on right. Turn right and continue 0.5 miles to Visitor Center parking.  Meet at the boat ramp. 


Sunday, February 7

9:00 AM to Noon

Silver Lake Regional Park, Haymarket, VA

This park offers walking trails, a lake, and a deep quarry where winter waterfowl can often be viewed. Phil Silas and Jean Tatalias lead. Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there:  Exit 40 (Route 15) from I-66 24 miles west of I-495.  Go south on Route 15 (toward Haymarket) for 0.3 miles to Route 55.  Turn right on Route 55

Wednesday, February 17

8:30 AM

Reston Lakes Tour, Reston, VA

Meet the leaders, Carol and Jay Hadlock, at Lake Newport and from there caravan to Lake Anne, Lake Audubon, and Lake Thoreau, checking to see what interesting surprise waterfowl have turned up this year. Walk sponsored by the Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

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 21

8:00 AM TO 11:00 AM

Woodcock Walks

Fairfax County offers six woodcock walks between February 27 and March 26. Some are aimed at families.  Most are at Huntley Meadows Park.  Go to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes/  and search on the keyword “woodcock”   Registration and fee required. 

Saturday Feb 27 to Saturday March 26

Registration and fee required.

Algonkian Regional Park, Sterling, VA

We can scope the river for waterfowl and walk the trails which border a rich habitat of fields and woods.  Bill Brown leads for ASNV.

Getting there:  Take Dulles Access Toll Road West, then exit to North on Fairfax County Parkway which then becomes Algonkian Parkway. Turn right on Cascades Parkway and follow straight on Fairway Drive into the park. After Volcano Island Drive and Park Chalet Place, turn left and meet at the Boat Ramp. Park address is 47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling, 20165.  

Sunday, March 6

8:00 AM

Burke Lake, Fairfax, VA

We’ll take part of the trail around the lake shore, watching for both water fowl and forest birds as well as keeping an eye for eagles aloft. Phil Silas and Catherine Kubo lead. Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there: Entrance is off Route 123, south of Burke Lake Road.  Follow signs to Park, turning left at second traffic light.  Take an immediate left in the park, then meet at the lot on the right (near the mini golf course). 7315 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, 22039.

Wednesday, March 9

8:30 AM

Walker Nature Center and Snakeden Stream Valley, Reston, VA

The Nature Center trails offer woods and stream beds for our resident hawks and passerines.  Jean Tatalias leads. Sponsored by the Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

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.

Sunday, March 20

7:30 to 10:30

Bles Park, Sterling, VA

We’ll try to catch a variety of sparrows, woodpeckers, and the last of our wintering birds  (and maybe some spring arrivals!) before those pesky leaves get in our way!  Jean Tatalias leads.  Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there: From the intersection of VA Route 28 and VA Route 7, travel west on Rt. 7 for 1.3 miles and turn right onto Loudoun County Parkway. Turn right on George Washington Blvd., then left on Riverside Pkwy. Bles Park will be on your right at the end of Riverside Pkwy.

Wednesday, March 30

8:30 AM

Lake Newport/ Brown’s Chapel, Reston, VA

Let’s see what the lake shore and woods of this lovely park area have to offer us for the spring.  Bill Brown leads.  Sponsored by the Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

Getting there:  From Route 7, go west on Baron Cameron Ave, and turn north on Village Rd. (opposite Lake Anne Village Center). Make an immediate right onto Brown’s Chapel Rd. and park by the ball field. 1575 Brown’s Chapel Road.

Sunday, April 3

7:30 AM – 10:30 AM

 More walks coming for April—Check the March Newsletter.

Recurring Field Trips

Several parks in the area have established year-round weekly birdwalks. These walks are not run by ASNV, but may be of interest to ASNV members. They can be found here.

Other News


Bird Feeder in Reston

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...