Hello Everybody!

Any bird hunters out there? Any country bird watchers? Anyone seen a Quail lately, otherwise known as the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)? If not, mark the date and come listen to David Bryan, a Private Lands Biologist from Virginia Tech and the USDA Center in Fredericksburg, discuss the status of quail in Virginia and what a number of organizations are doing to bring the quail back to reasonable numbers. David will also talk about other familiar species suffering from habitat loss. David will speak at our September 25 Audubon Afternoon which will be held this time around at the Pohick Regional Library, 6450 Sydenstricker Road, Burke, Va. 22015 at the usual time: 3-5pm. Please come on out!

Another great reason for coming to the September Audubon Afternoon is to get the results of our very successful Birdathon and to recognize the prize winners. A lot of volunteers helped us a lot and it will be a real pleasure to give out the prizes and well-deserved thanks.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, everyone, and see you in September!

Stay in touch, Bruce

Welcome Bees into Your Garden

Cliff Fairweather, ASNV Naturalist

Of the major groups of pollinating insects – butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, beetles, and flies – bees are by far the most efficient and effective pollinators for most native plants and for agriculture. But bees are in trouble and it’s not just the non-native honey bee that faces an uncertain future. Habitat loss, pesticides, climate change and other factors are combining to put many native bee species at risk.

We can help native bees by creating bee habitat in our yards and gardens. A diversity of native flowering plants that offer something in bloom throughout the growing season provides the nectar and pollen bees need to feed themselves and their young. Bees also need nesting sites and there are a number of ways to provide this. Many native bees nest in old beetle holes in dead wood, so leaving a standing dead tree in your yard makes a great bee nursery. Of course, you’ll want have the limbs and perhaps the top removed for safety.

If you don’t have a dead tree, creating a brush pile can provide nesting habitat. Since some bees nest in the stems of plants, leave at least some of last year’s dead plants standing in your garden or add them to your brush pile. You can also purchase or make nest boxes for mason bees. Don’t mail-order bees for the boxes because that risks spreading disease and genetic pollution; local bees will find the home you provide. About 70% of native bees nest in the ground, so leave some bare, sparsely vegetated or undisturbed ground for them.

Make your property safe for bees by reducing pesticide use and being careful about when and where you use it. Avoid spraying on windy days or when pollinators are active and avoid applying pesticide to flowers. A great new book from the Xerces Society, Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, is packed with information on creating habitat for native bees and other pollinators. I recommend adding it to your library. Finally, few of our native bees are even capable of stinging humans and those that are rarely do, so don’t let the fear of bee sting dissuade you from welcoming bees into your garden.

Audubon at Home Workshops

We have started a new series of Audubon at Home workshop to provide enrichment for Audubon at Home clients and additional training for our volunteer Ambassadors. These programs vary for 1.5 – 3 hours and are typically held in private homes or local parks. Workshop will be offered free to current and trainee Audubon at Home Ambassadors.

Backyard Water Features

Sunday, August 14, time TBD
Water features are wildlife magnets and add beauty and interest to your garden but creating one can seem intimidating. Virginia Native Plant Potowmack Chapter President and AAH Ambassador Alan Ford will help us demystify water features and show us techniques for creating them at his home in Mclean. For directions and additional information, click here.

Alternatives to Traditional Plantings

Saturday, September 18, 1-3 PM
Traditional approaches to landscaping tend to overuse some plants and tend to focus on exotic plants, some of which are invasive. In this workshop, Audubon at Home Ambassador Kim Scudera will cover replacement strategies, such as mimicking ornamental characteristics and/or landscape function and consider issues such as size, cultural requirements, and potential for trouble. For directions and additional information, click here.

Learn More Online...

Visit our website to learn more about Audubon at Home, these workshops, and to read our blog. Each workshop is limited to 12 participants. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or info@audubonva.org for more information and to reserve your space.

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.

Twin Branches Trail, Reston

Sunday, July 24, 7:30 - 10:30 AM
This trail is shady, through stream valley and mature forest -- a good place to be in July. Surprises often turn up here. The beginning of the trail is rather steep and rocky downhill, so wear appropriate footwear. For directions and additional information, click here.

Huntly Meadows Butterfly Walk

Sunday, July 31, 10 AM - noon
Join recent graduate of Audubon Naturalist Society Naturalist Certificate Program, Virginia Master Naturalist and avid butterflier Mary Alexander on a walk along Huntley Meadow's boardwalk looking for interesting butterflies. This walk is directed toward families with children and those who wish to be introduced to the interesting life of Virginia's butterflies. We hope to see Virginia's state butterfly, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and will look at what's nectaring on any rare purple milkweed still blooming in the meadow (if any is left from construction). This will be the last day that the park's boardwalk will be open before replacement work begins, so join us if only to see the boardwalk. Since this weekend the park is having its open house, the group will meet in front of the visitor's center. Bring binoculars, insect repellent, water and a hat. For directions and additional information, click here.

Bombay Hook NWR

Saturday, August 20, all day
Reservations required: RSVP to Carol Hadlock at 703-437-7451 or carol_inawren@verizon.net.
Fall migration of shorebirds will be getting underway. This trip will be jointly sponsored by Northern Virginia Bird Club and ASNV, with Larry Meade and Marc Ribaudo as leaders. For directions and additional information, click here.

Fred Crabtree Park, Reston

Sunday, August 28, 7:30-10:30 AM
Join Bill Brown to explore this extensive wooded park.For directions and additional information, click here.

Are you interested? We are considering an all day trip to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro.

This center is a premier hospital and rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned wildlife in Virginia. We would like to know how many folks would be interested in visiting the center, probably in October. The drive down is about 3 hours, and the tour can be combined with a hike in the George Washington National Forest if there is interest. There will be a fee, based on the number of people attending. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please email Carol Hadlock. Details will follow after we assess the interest.

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.

Monarch Butterflies

Saturday, July 30, 9 AM - 12 PM
Monarch populations are dwindling due to climate, parasites, predation, pesticides and loss of habitat. Rearing monarchs is a way to ensure the success of local populations. The butterflies spend their last brood here before flying south to Mexico. Learn a little about their natural history and biology, and then collect eggs and caterpillars to raise in captivity. And if we get brave, we'll tag a few. For directions and additional information, click here.

Introduction to Birds of Prey: Lecture and Field Trip

Class: Sunday, October 9, 2-3:30 PM
Field trip: Saturday, October 15, 10 AM - 1:30 PM

Learn about birds of prey in the Washington D.C. area! This program explores identification and ecology of these remarkable animals. Participants will have the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with our park’s resident rehabilitated raptors. For the field trip, join a naturalist in a canoeing and hiking exploration of the Mason Neck peninsula. Birds of prey abound, including bald eagles, osprey and hawks. Participants will canoe the marsh at Pohick Bay in the morning, and then hike at Pohick Bay Regional Park and Mason Neck State Park in the afternoon. (Lecture open to all. Field trip participants must attend lecture.) For directions and additional information, click here.

Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You

Stop Mercury Pollution

Mercury is a neurotoxin found in many waters of every state, including many of the rivers and lakes of Virginia. It is particularly harmful to birds and other animals at the top of the food chain, such as bald eagles, great egrets and loons. It is also harmful to people, especially pregnant women and babies.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to reduce mercury emissions from facilities, such as coal-burning power plants. The EPA is accepting comments until August 4. We urge our members to send comments to the EPA. Comments do not have to be long or technical.

Learn more on the EPA website.

Read an EPA fact sheet and learn how to submit your comments (pdf download).

Send the EPA a note, via the National Audubon Society's online action center. Let the EPA know you care.

Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "These standards are critically important to the health of the American people and will leverage technology already in use at over half of the nation’s coal power plants to slash emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants. When these new standards are finalized, they will assist in preventing 11,000 heart attacks, 17,000 premature deaths, 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and approximately 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. Hospital visits will be reduced and nearly 850,000 fewer days of work will be missed due to illness."

Legislators' Conservation Voting Record

Learn how your elected representatives voted on key conservation issues in 2011 by visiting the League of Conservation Voters online.

Ask Candidates about Conservation

Primaries will be held in certain districts on August 23 this year to select party nominees for state offices. On November 8, Virginians will elect state legislators and local officials in many jurisdictions to represent newly redrawn districts. Visit the State Board of Elections' website to see the new 2011 election calendar.

Campaigns offer many opportunities to meet and work for candidates and to influence their conservation platform. Ask them what they plan to do. Remind them that their constituents care about local wildlife and conservation. Learn how your current elected representatives voted on key conservation issues in 2010 by visiting the League of Conservation Voters online.

Ozone Worsening

A new report, Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution, by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows how higher temperatures could increase ozone pollution above current levels and analyzes the potential health consequences of these ozone increases in 2020 and 2050, as well as the economic costs of these health impacts in 2020.

For Virginia, the report found that climate change-induced ozone increases in Virginia could result in almost 93,000 additional cases of serious respiratory illnesses. These and other health-related impacts could cost Virginia roughly $178 million (in 2008 dollars) in 2020 alone. Virginia ranks tenth in both categories.

Northern Virginia does not meet the federal ozone air quality standard. Of 132 Virginia counties, Fairfax County ranks 132nd for the physical environment because of poor air quality. Prince William County ranks 70th, Loudoun County ranks 119th, Arlington ranks 129th and Alexandria ranks 131st. You can find this University of Wisconsin study online.

Fairfax County’s Great Parks Initiative

After three years of collaboration and hard work by members of the public, Park Authority staff and others, the Great Parks, Great Communities Parks Comprehensive Park System Plan is ready for final review and adoption by the Park Authority Board.

All fifteen chapters of the Great Parks, Great Communities Plan are now available for download from the project web site.

In addition, a catalog of public comments received is available for each Planning District chapter. Each catalog includes the comment received, a response, and an action taken (if any). ASNV provided comments, urging more natural resource parks.

Upcoming Events

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
  • July 27
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
  • August 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.

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys

Join Jim Waggener each Friday, from April through October, in his ongoing survey of the butterflies and dragonflies at four locations in Fairfax and Prince William Counties. Limit: 4 individuals each week. Reservations required. Call Jim at 703-567-3555 for reservations and directions.

Note: Surveys may be cancelled for inclement weather.

Upcoming dates:
  • July 22, Occoquan Regional Park
  • July 29, Occoquan Bay NWR
  • August 5, Meadowood
  • August 12, Metz Wetlands
  • August 19, Occoquan Regional Park

The Nature of Meadowood

Join an experienced naturalist to discover the special diversity of wildlife and natural habitats within the Bureau of Land Management's Meadowood Recreation Area. Trips are limited to 10. Call BLM's Jinx Fox, 703-928-0186, for reservations.

Upcoming dates (Saturdays, 8:30 - 11:30 AM)
  • August 20

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.

Watch Virginia's Eagles

Three bald eagles from Norfolk Botanical Garden were relocated to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on April 27, after their mother was killed by an airplane the previous day. The eaglets are receiving excellent care and are being prepared for release into the wild in August.

Watch the eaglets via webcam.

Learn more about the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

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

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