Welcome from the ASNV President

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! We at ASNV hope you had a wonderful holiday season, because we sure did, and all because of you and your generosity during our Fall Appeal. Your support was fantastic and still has us shaking our heads. While our lease situation is still very unsettled, we are now, thanks to you, in a far better position to face whatever decisions we need to make down the road.

Christmas bird counts throughout the region this past year were confusing to say the least, but Bob Shipman stayed on top of it all. Despite the adverse weather we still got out in numbers and it will be interesting to see the results when Bob gets through compiling the statistics. Similarly, Larry Cartwright had to cancel his winter waterfowl workshop this past Saturday because Belmont Bay was frozen over and covered by high winds, but it looks as though the count itself will still come off on the 23rd. Since we were not able to have our usual social get-together after the Christmas Bird Count, maybe we’ll look for a warm weather day in the spring to hold a cook-out or something for all the volunteers from both counts.

I hope many of you can pencil-in the evening of February 24 for an interesting lecture at Huntley Meadows at 7:30pm. We and the Friends of Dyke Marsh (whose president is our own advocacy chair, Glenda Booth) together with the Prince George’s Audubon Society of Maryland are co-sponsoring a talk by Darren Schroeder, Vice President of Conservation Advocacy, American Bird Conservancy. Darren wil speak about the red knot, a shorebird that makes one of the longest migrations in the world. Every spring it migrates from Tierra del Fuego to its Arctic breeding grounds stopping in Delaware Bay to feast on horseshoe crabs and replenish its energy reserves. It should be a fascinating evening so come on out!

In the meantime, please stay in touch

- Bruce

Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteers Meeting

Audubon at Home Ambassadors and anyone interested in ASNV's new wildlife sanctuary certification project is invited to an introductory meeting and update on either Sunday, Feb. 7 (1-3:30pm) or Tuesday, Feb. 9 (6:30-9pm) at the ASNV office at Packard Center.

Besides a review of the Audubon at Home program with Cliff Fairweather and Kevin Munroe, we will be introducing marketing pamphlets, the application form for property owners, and the attractive outdoor "Wildlife Sanctuary" sign that certified properties may post to show support for habitat restoration. ASNV members may be aware that this backyard habitat initiative differs from all others because it "Lets the Animals Decide!" Homeowners, schools, churches, HOAs and others qualify by observing the property being used by at least 10 out of 30 qualifying sanctuary species. Sanctuary species include selected native birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects needing help due to loss of habitat.

Anyone interested in volunteering to be an ambassador (consultant to property owners) or in being trained to become an ambassador for this program, or just wanting a head start on getting your own property recognized, is invited to attend one of these meetings. Note that this project is also an approved service project of the Fairfax Master Naturalists. We need people who share our passion for helping to restore and protect our natural environment one space at a time! If you can attend one of our meetings, please leave a message with Jill Miller at ASNV, 703-256-6895, or info@audubonva.org. This spring, let's help the animals decide!

Scaling Up a Home Energy Efficiency Retrofit Market

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued a report -- Recovery Through Retrofit -- in response to a challenge by Vice President Biden to identify federal actions that will grow a national scale home energy efficiency improvement retrofit market. This initiative recognizes that to reduce our CO2 emissions, we must reduce our energy consumption by improving efficiency.

A significant chunk -- 20% -- of our emissions comes from the nation’s 130 million homes. Fully half of the nation’s homes were built prior to 1973, the year of our country’s first energy crisis and the advent of modern energy building codes. Many of these homes have no wall insulation, high levels of air infiltration, inefficient heating and air conditioning, and inefficient water heaters and appliances.

Existing energy efficiency diagnostic and retrofit techniques not only have the potential to reduce home energy consumption by 20-40% and save $21 billion annually, but also that the cost of the these retrofits are generally less than the energy savings over time. Despite this, the home energy efficiency retrofit industry is indeed small. The report attributes this to a number of barriers including access to information, financing and skilled workers.

The Waxman-Markey ACES bill, which has already passed the House, addresses these barriers. The Obama Administration will also promote this initiative because it will stimulate job growth and reduce the current high unemployment. It’s likely this initiative will play a significant role in any energy legislation in 2010. Stay tuned...

Update provided by Steven Bruckner, Conservation Chair, Sierra Club, VA Chapter

Upcoming Field Trips

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

Upper Glade Stream Valley, Reston

Sunday, Feb. 7, 7:30-10:30 AM
From the new Nature House on Glade Drive, we will walk down to the stream valley and go upstream, a stretch our walks have not previously covered. Gavin Small will lead.

Getting there:From Reston Parkway, go east on Glade Dr. Park in Nature House parking lot or along Glade Dr.

Southern Maryland

Sunday, Feb. 14, All Day
This all-day field trip to Solomons, Maryland and Point Lookout State Park with trip leader Sean Duffy, will depart Fairfax County at 7:15 AM, arrive at Point Lookout by about 9:00, bird northbound all day, and arrive back in Fairfax County by about 7PM. Target birds include sea ducks (ducks of all kinds) and raptors, as well as loons, grebes, cormorants, pelicans, gulls (maybe terns), grassland birds, short-eared owl, and brown-headed nuthatch. Email Sean to sign up and receive further details at sean.duffy@fcps.edu(car pool locations, other logistics). Limit 14. Registration required.

Riverbend Park

Sunday, Feb. 21, 9:00 AM-Noon
Walk along the river in search of wintering waterfowl, winter birds in the woods and possible bald eagle. Leaders: Jay and Carol Hadlock.

Getting there: From Georgetown Pike (Rt. 193) east of Great Falls, take Riverbend Rd. to Jeffrey, and Jeffrey to the park entrance. Meet in the upper parking lot of the Visitor Center.

Waterfowl and Raptors Tour of Reston

Sunday, Feb. 28, 7:30-10:30 AM
Kevin Munroe leads this outing every winter and surprising things always turn up on Reston’s lakes.

Getting there: Meet at the Lake Audubon Boat Ramp on Twin Branches Rd., near the intersection with Glade Drive. If the birding is good, the time and number of sites may be extended, but participants should feel free to leave when they wish.

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.

Beginning Birding Workshop

Wednesday, March 17 from 7 - 9 PM (classroom)
Saturday, March 20 from 8 - 11 AM (field trip)

This workshop is an entry-level introduction to birding in the Northern Virginia area. Covers birding basics, including field guides and binoculars, as well as seasonal information on birds to look for and where to look for them. Includes one 2-hour classroom session and one 3-hour field trip at a local park.

Classroom location: Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building 21000 Education Court, Room 105, Ashburn, VA.

Field trip location: Algonkian Regional Park, 47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling, VA

Instructor: Bill Brown is an ASNV Master Naturalist and a regular field trip leader at Claude Moore Park and Algonquian Park.

Cost: $35 members; $40 non-members

Limit: 15

Spring Wildflowers

Thursday, April 8 from 7 - 9:30 PM (classroom)
Saturday, April 10 from 1:30 - 3:30 PM (field trip)

Learn to identify some common spring wildflowers and plant families as well as 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 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.

Classroom location: Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA

Field trip location: Riverbend Park

Instructor: Marijke Gate has worked as a naturalist at Riverbend Park for 15 years. She has a Ph.D. in zoology and was previously a biology lecturer in southern Africa. However, spring wildflowers are her favorite topic.

Cost: $35 members; $40 non-members

Limit: 25

Plant Lore and Ethnobotany

Thursdays, April 22 and 29 from 7 - 9:30 PM (classroom dates)
Saturday, May 1 from 10 AM - 2:30 PM (field trip)

Ethnobotany is the study of how people use indigenous plants. Virginia's flora has a rich history of both real and imagined uses. This LEAPP workshop will familiarize participants in local floral legend, lore, and ethnobotany. The focus will be on native plants, but exotic species (and how some were used by people) will also be covered where appropriate. Plant identification, natural history, and animal associations and interactions will also be part of what is studied. The participants will also discuss the ethics and legality of collecting and the promise and danger of medicinal uses. The field trip will be to Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Linden, VA (see below for directions). Carpool arrangements will be discussed in class. The Thompson Wildlife Management Area one of the largest (millions!) great white trillium displays in the world! This area is resplendent with many (often rare) wildflowers and trees, including native orchids, which is why it is a wildflower registry site for the Virginia Native Plant Society. On the somewhat rocky 2-mile trail, we'll discuss plant folklore, ethnobotany, identification, and any other natural history we have a good chance to happen upon. Bring a bag lunch and water to eat on the trail.

Classroom location: Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA

Field trip location: Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Linden, VA from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Meet at Parking Lot #6 in the Thompson Wildlife Management Area.

Getting there: Go West on I-66 to the Linden/Front Royal exit. You turn left over the highway and then left again onto VA-55 (you'll see a large gas station straight ahead after the turn). Travel one and 1/2 miles to the hamlet of Linden and make another left onto Freezeland Rd. (county rd 638). About a mile later you bear right toward the Blue Mountain Estates. Go about 4 miles up the mountain to parking lot #6 which is near the fire tower (that has the best options for plants).

Instructor: Alonso Abugattas is both a Master Gardener and a Naturalist, as well as an instructor for both. He is currently the acting manager of Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington County and is a well known local naturalist and storyteller. He is a former officer for the Virginia Native Plant Society, including past president of the local Potowmack Chapter.

Cost: $50 members; $60 non-members

Limit: 25

Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You

State Legislature Is at Work

The Virginia General Assembly has convened, with 20 new members of the House of Delegates, two new senators and a new governor. Most conservationists who follow developments in Richmond expect an uphill battle for most conservation bills. Bills relating to energy conservation, offshore drilling and green buildings have already been introduced. With the state facing a serious deficit, all state services, including state parks, the natural heritage program and environmental services like air and water protection, are threatened.

To learn about bills expected, look over the Virginia Conservation Network’s briefing book (pdf download). You can also monitor specific bills at this League of Conservation Voters website.

The Virginia Conservation Network needs Auduboners in the district of every state senator and delegate to occasionally call, write or meet with them, especially during the session.

If legislators don’t hear from you, they assume you don’t care. To find your state legislator, visit this website: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform.

Climate Change Demands Action on All Fronts

Virginia could be a leader in curbing greenhouse gases that are causing global warming and climate change. But Virginians must speak up.

Consider these facts:
  • Virginia’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 35 percent between 1990 and 2004, a rate nearly twice the national average.
  • Virginia’s carbon dioxide emissions exceed those of some other countries.
  • With 112 miles of coastline, Virginia is at particular risk. The Chesapeake Bay could rise by two feet. The Hampton Roads area is the second most impacted region in the country. The Potomac River could rise two feet by 2050.
  • Northern Virginia will see more extreme weather events, flooding and vector-borne diseases.
Elected officials at every level need to hear from you. We have reported earlier that U. S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner are “swing” votes on climate change and they have told us they are hearing lots from the “other side.” Virginia’s Senators are key. Please email and write Senators Warner and Webb and ask them to support a strong climate change bill now. The international negotiations in Copenhagen and President Obama’s involvement have given the Senate a framework for moving a bill early this year.

[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.]

A strong climate bill should include 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 http://www.audubon.org/globalWarming/GetTheFacts.php.

Elections Again

Every election offers conservation-minded people the opportunity to express their priorities with their votes. A special election will be held on March 2 for the 41st House of Delegates’ district to fill the seat formerly held by Dave Marsden, who was elected to the Virginia Senate on January 12. The 41st district is generally in the area of West Springfield and Burke.

Virginians will elect all members of the U. S. House of Representatives this year. According to press reports, the Republicans will hold a primary in June to select a candidate for the 11th Congressional district. Virginia has an election every year.

Connecting Natural Areas

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust has launched a new effort called “Connecting Our Green Spaces” to try to connect areas like trails and parklands. NVCT is looking especially at areas of green space north of Dulles International Airport, near Bull Run Regional Park and a “green crescent” around the city of Alexandria. “As every day goes by, there’s less open land. It’s become scarcer and scarcer,” Richard Bliss, an NVCT founder, was quoted as saying in the Fairfax Times. NVCT has protected over 5,000 acres in Northern Virginia. Visit www.nvct.org for more information.

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).


Rusty Blackbird Winter Blitz, January 30 - February 15

Help scientists learn why the rusty blackbird has undergone drastic declines over the past few decades by counting and reporting them during this period. The Blitz will take in Virginia, and other states across the bird’s wintering range, as a coordinated effort to acquire information on the its distribution and habitat use. Participation is easy. Anyone with good rusty blackbird identification skills is encouraged to look for them. They like swamps, wet woodlands, and pond edges. Look as often as you want during the Blitz period. Then, submit your data on-line via Virginia eBird. Find more information on the Blitz on the National Zoo's website.

Great Backyard Bird Count, February 12 - 15

Bird watchers of all ages are encouraged to count birds during this four-day event in to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent and in Hawaii. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. You can spend as little as 15 minutes on one day or count for as long as you like every day of the event. You can count anywhere, not just a backyard. For more information, visit http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/.

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
January 27
February 10
February 24

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
February 3
February 17

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.

Lead a Birdwalk

Fairfax Master Naturalists (an ASNV partner) needs volunteer hike leaders, especially birders, for a Girl Scout Earth Day / Arbor Day program that will run the month of April.

Coordinator, Stacey Evers, is planning a variety of activities for the 35 Girl Scout troops (K-12, but mostly younger) in the Annandale / Falls Church / Seven Corners / Bailey's Crossroads area. Troop leaders are interested in guided hikes, particularly focused on birds and/or wildflowers. You can pick the age range, the subject, the location and the time, preferably on Sunday afternoons. The recommended hike would be 30-60 minutes (no more than 90 minutes) and in reasonable proximity to the troop's home area. This is an FMN service project (#103).

Troops will be asked to register for events in advance, so Stacey will know how many people you can expect to show up for your hike. If you are interested, please contact Stacey Evers at stacey.evers@cox.net.

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 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.

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 final forum will be on Thursday night at 7 PM
February 18, 2010, Frying Pan Park

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

Sharpen Your Advocacy Skills

February 18, Parks: Fairfax County Park Authority Listening Session, Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center. Advocate for more natural areas.

February 23, Coal Country Film: This compelling film describes how coal is mined, how mountain-top removal harms people and the environment, where our electricity comes from and its consequences – the true cost of coal. 7 p.m., Falls Church Presbyterian Church, 225 East Broad Street, Falls Church; free.

February 27, Advocacy Training: This free workshop offers a great opportunity to hear from experts on how energy efficiency can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how conservationists can work with the media to effect change. Join the Northern Virginia Climate Action Network, a coalition of nine Northern Virginia conservation groups, including Audubon, for Workshop III. 1 to 5 p.m., Fair Oaks Merrifield Garden Center (upstairs meeting room), 12101 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA, 22030. Refreshments will be provided. Questions? Contact Linda Burchfiel, 703-506-4310 or linda@lburchfiel.com.

March 6, Wetland Habitats: Virginia Native Plant Society, all-day program, University of Richmond, Richmond, on plants and ecology of Virginia’s wetland environments. Visit www.vnps.org for more information.

March 20, Green Living Expo, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment. Visit www.arlingtonenvironment.org for more information.

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 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.






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