July 2018

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In This Newsletter

  • President's Corner
  • ASNV Board President Migrates to Arizona
  • Upcoming Classes
  • Call for Volunteers
  • Delaware Bay Final Trip Report
  • Did Ben Franklin Really Dis the Bald Eagle?
  • Audubon Society of Northern Virginia Grant Helps Restore Local Habitat
  • Take Action
  • Bird Walks
  • Recurring Bird Walks
  • Other News


Conservation Counts

Join Jim Waggener in his ongoing natural resource 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. From April through October, surveys are conducted primarily for butterflies and dragonflies at those two locations and two others—Occoquan Regional Park and Julie J. Metz Memorial Wetlands Preserve.

Each survey is limited to four participants, and reservations are required. More information is available on the ASNV website.

Contact Jim for more details or to reserve your space.

Meadowood on Mason Neck 

(7:30 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • July 11
  • August 15

Occoquan Bay NWR 

(7:30 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • July 25
  • August 29

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys 

(8:30 AM - 12:30 PM)
  • July 6 - Occoquan Bay NWR
  • July 13 - Meadowood
  • July 20 - Metz Wetlands
  • July 27 - Occoquan Regional Park
  • Aug 3 - Occoquan Bay NWR
  • Aug 10 - Meadowood
  • Aug 17 - Metz Wetlands
  • Aug 24 - Occoquan Regional Park
  • Aug 31 - Occoquan Bay NWR

Make a Difference!  
Speak up!


E-Activist Network

The National Audubon Society invites all Auduboners to join its e-activist network. When you subscribe to the Society’s 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 persuade elected officials to support actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you would like to help 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 the ASNV office.

President's Corner

My personal thanks to everyone who has helped to make our Audubon Chapter an active, engaged community.  We continue to be a volunteer organization, and our successes have been the result of the commitment, energy, and hard work of the many volunteers who make up our programs.  So say thank you to yourselves! 

(Speaking of volunteers – we could really use some help on our Membership Committee More info below. Please contact us if you think you can help out – no special skills necessary, just a desire to help the Chapter!)

Join me in welcoming newly elected President Tom Blackburn, as well as new Board of Directors members Gerry Abbott, Roger Di Silvestro, Connie Ericson, and Doug Everhart.  Brief bios are on the website. Sadly, at the same time, we are losing the services of Diana Handy and Casey Pittrizzi, who are stepping down from the Board.  Diana has been especially active in our Audubon at Home program, and in helping us continue our Adult Education workshop offerings; Casey has taken the lead on our Birdathon for the last several years.   Our thanks to both of them for their service. 

Spaces still available in our August Shorebirds workshop (see below) with Marc Ribaudo; and it’s not too early to sign up for the Monarchs workshop in September (see website).

Have a good summer, everyone.   
Carl Kikuchi

ASNV Board President Migrates to Arizona

There’s one important item missing from this month’s President’s Message—when Carl Kikuchi thanked our retiring board members for their service he forgot to mention that he also is leaving us. That oversight is no surprise for a guy who never sings his own praises and who, sadly for us, is migrating permanently to join his flock in Arizona. The ASNV community is sorry to see him leave our flyway, but we wish him well as he and his wife, Jan, immerse themselves in grandchildren and the joys of birding a new region.
During his thirteen years of service to ASNV, Carl proved that there is great power in quiet leadership. Under his two terms as Board President and in many different roles, Carl helped ASNV accomplish numerous objectives, including:
  • developing a strategic plan that clarifies our mission and establishes specific goals to guide our efforts,
  • recruiting new talent: board members, instructors, committee members, and volunteers, 
  • arranging for many of the Audubon Afternoons we’ve so enjoyed over the years, and
  • sharing his own talents for efficient management, for teaching the skills of birding to beginners, for overseeing our increasingly successful Annual Appeal, and for working with Caroline Williams to analyze twenty-five years of citizen science data from our Northern Virginia Bird Survey.
Carl’s tireless dedication has left this organization stronger in terms of volunteers, programs, financial stability, and vision. 
Thank you Carl, we’ll miss you.
Happy birding!

Upcoming Classes


Identifying Shorebirds Workshop
Aug 16, 2018

Join Marc Ribaudo for an evening class and accompanying field trip that will cover Identifying Shorebirds.  The class is recommended for birders who would like to tackle shorebird identification on their own.

We will spend an evening in the classroom covering identification tips for shorebirds typically seen in our region.  Emphasis will be on shorebirds that pose the biggest identification challenges, such as peeps.
On the Saturday following the class we will visit Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware to put into practice what we learned in class.  Bombay Hook is one of the top shorebird spots in the Northeast and provides ample opportunities to view many shorebird species in close proximity to each other. 
Read More➝

Call for Volunteers

ASNV could really use your help with its Membership Committee—generating welcome letters to new members, publicizing volunteer opportunities, helping to engage new members, organizing volunteer rosters.  Familiarity with word processing software would be helpful but isn’t required—most important is a desire to help your Chapter!  Contact us at info@audubonva.org.

Delaware Bay Final Trip Report

May 25-27, 2018       

Trip Leaders: Ray Smith & Sonia Santa Anna

At about 3 p.m. Friday we arrived at Cape Henlopen State Park, where we walked the beach along the bay. Officials had roped off part of the beach, excluding people for the protection of endangered Least Terns and Piping Plovers nesting there along with threatened Oyster Catchers. Using scopes, we saw Piping Plovers, Oyster Catchers, many Laughing Gulls, and various shorebird species.
We then drove to the park Nature Center, where we searched nearby woods and found Pine Warblers and Brown-Headed Nuthatches but no Red-Breasted Nuthatches, despite looking for them.
We returned to the Beacon Motel in Lewes, Delaware, and after dinner watched a video on Shorebirds. Saturday morning we traveled in a six-car caravan to Big Stone Beach Road, where we searched for Passerines and other woodland birds. Photo of Black-necked Stilt by Deb Breton.

Did Ben Franklin Really Dis the Bald Eagle?

Have you heard the one about Franklin opposing the Bald Eagle as national symbol? Well, it may not be true.
The Bald Eagle has ranged widely across U.S. coins, paper currency, and government stationary for more than 200 years. A committee of the Continental Congress proposed the Bald Eagle as the U.S. national symbol in 1782, before the American Revolution had ended. In accepting the committee’s proposal, the Continental Congress followed a long tradition of nations embossing Eagles on money, medallions, and medals. The raptors served as the emblem of the Roman Empire, appeared in myths from Scandinavia to Rome and Greece to Japan, and were central to many American Indian religions. Eagles have served or still serve as national emblems in Russia, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Albania, Egypt, Palestine, and many more. However, these birds were all Golden Eagles. The Continental Congress rejected the Golden Eagle as too European and settled on the Bald. (Drawing of Turkey by John Audubon.)

Benjamin Franklin and the Bald Eagle

American legend has it that Benjamin Franklin—scholar, statesman, scientist, revolutionary—opposed the choice of the Bald Eagle. Well, not exactly. When the Continental Congress picked the Bald Eagle, Franklin was serving as an ambassador in France. He had no say in the decision. He voiced his only known complaint in a letter he wrote to his daughter on January 26, 1784, nearly two years after Congress sealed the choice of the Bald Eagle.

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia Grant Helps Restore Local Habitat

Funded in part by contributions from the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV), 35 volunteers assembled at the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve on May 9 and June 9 to plant some 2,000 native trees and plants on a 0.65-acre site previously overwhelmed by non-native or invasive plants such as English ivy, mile-a-minute and stiltgrass. The planting involved 60 native species in an initiative of the Friends of Dyke Marsh, in partnership with the National Park Service, Earth Sangha, and ASNV.

Image of Dyke Marsh by Geoff Livingston via Flickr

The Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a National Park Service unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is a freshwater, tidal marsh on the Virginia side of the Potomac River in Fairfax County near Alexandria. One birder, during more than 40 years of recorded observations at Dyke Marsh, tallied 296 bird species there. For a list of the 225 more common species, including two species of bittern, nine hawk species, and more than 20 warbler species, click here

Take Action


Protecting Birds and Wildlife in Fairfax Parks

Regulation of recreational drone-flying is lax at best, an administrative and legal shortcoming that jeopardizes wildlife because drones can disturb birds and other animals, particularly nesting birds and their young.

Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) staffers, at the request of the FCPA Board, prepared a proposal last year to allow the flying of recreational drones in two more county parks, Lake Fairfax and Popes Head.  Currently, this activity is allowed only in Poplar Ford Park.

ASNV met with park officials, provided bird data, commented in public meetings, and raised many questions about expanding recreational drone activities in county parks.  Thanks to our efforts, the officials deleted Laurel Hill Park, a meadow-grassland near Lorton, because of potential natural resource conflicts.  Auduboners have observed meadowlarks and bobolinks on this property.

The 2018 Virginia General Assembly passed a bill, now law, that addresses local governments’ management of drone activities from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.  The Fairfax County Park Authority, citing the new law, appears to believe that it cannot manage drone activity.  Park authority officials wrote us, “In compliance with state law, the use of drones on Park Authority properties is allowed starting July 1. Pilots are expected to abide by all applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, safety guidance, and airspace restrictions. We are hopeful that operators will respect other park users, stay clear of wildlife and natural and cultural resource areas and generally, be respectful in their use of unmanned aircraft over parkland.

“The Park Authority’s website on Model Aircraft and Drones has been updated with the latest information, including guidance for pilots and the public.”

Virginia Senator Scott Surovell has requested that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring provide an opinion to clarify local government’s authority, including agencies like the Park Authority.  On June 30 he wrote,
I appreciate the technology community’s concern about a patchwork of local rules  across vast swaths of land over the entire the Commonwealth, but in addition to these wildlife concerns on park properties, I could likewise see scenarios where a local government would  have concerns about third party’s utilizing drones over police stations or secure facilities such as jails or water authorities and have a legitimate interest in prohibiting these activities simply as property owners to protect public safety.

Thank you, Senator Surovell.

FCPA will hold a public meeting and comment period, in coordination with NOVA Parks, in the fall.  We hope Auduboners will attend, speak out, and talk to their Fairfax County Park Authority Board members.  You can find yours here

Protecting Habitat on the GW Parkway

The George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP), a unit of the National Park System, is undertaking an environmental assessment to rehabilitate the north section of the parkway. This project will involve road and bridge work from Spout Run to Interstate 495.  Comments are due by July 14.  The document is here.

Last year, ASNV expressed concerns about GWMP’s tree removal, cutting, and chipping activity near a new, active bald eagle nest near the parkway and Spout Run, conducted under contract with Bartlett Tree Experts. Auduboners may wish to urge the Park Service to preserve the parkway’s habitat for wildlife, especially in light of continuing tree loss in Northern Virginia.  Protecting these trees and surrounding habitat is in keeping with the federal park agency’s mission, which is this: "The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world."

Elect Conservation-minded Officials

On November 6, Virginians will elect 11 members to the U.S. House of Representatives and one to the U.S. Senate.  Campaigns provide advocates with opportunities to learn candidate views and proposals and with chances to influence candidate perspectives on important issues.  To vote on November 6, you must register by October 15.  For more information, visit https://www.elections.virginia.gov/voter-outreach/upcoming-elections.html.

Virginia Environmental Assembly

Virginia conservation leaders will gather on September 7 and 8 in Williamsburg at the College of William and Mary for the annual Environmental Assembly, an opportunity to learn about key issues and strategize with allies on how to address environmental threats.  The assembly is hosted by the Virginia Conservation Network, of which ASNV is a member.  For more info, email admin@vcnva.org or call 804-644-0283.  Note to advocates:  To reduce your carbon footprint, take the train to Williamsburg. 



Bird Walks


Buttermilk Creek Trail, Reston, VA
Sunday, July 8 - 7:30 to 10:30 AM

We’ll try to keep cool as we go through the woods and watch for birds, maybe feeding hatchlings. Sponsored by the Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston.

Getting there:  From the Dulles Toll Road West, exit north on Wiehle Avenue.  Go about 1.5 miles to the second entrance to N. Shore Drive on the right.  At the intersection of N Shore with Ring Road, turn into the parking lot for the swimming pool and tennis courts.  11032 Ring Road, Reston.

Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park, Bristow, VA
Sunday, July 22 - 8:00 to 11:00 AM

Join leader Toby Hardwick at this park to look for the dickcissels and grasshopper sparrows that have been spotted in this field, farm, and woodland habitat park. Sponsored by ASNV.

Getting there: From  I-66, take Rte 234 south (exit 44). Travel 4.5 miles and turn right onto Rte 28 (Nokesville Rd). Travel 1.5 and turn left onto Rte 619 (Bristow Rd). Travel 0.25 mile and turn right onto Iron Brigade Unit Ave.  The parking lot is located on the left at the traffic circle. 10708 Bristow Rd, Bristow VA 20136.

Great Falls National Park , Great Falls, VA
Sunday, August 5 - 8:00 to 11:00 AM

Why not join the weekly Sunday walk at Great Falls? The trail is mostly through wooded areas and great for woodpeckers.  Plus there are the river overlooks. Sponsored by the park.

Fee is $5.00 per person or use a National Park Pass

Getting there: From I-495, take exit 44 for route 193 west; continue 4 miles. Turn right on Old Dominion Drive.  9200 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, VA 22102. Meet in front of snack/concession stand at the Park Visitor Center.

Twin Branches Trail, Reston, VA
Sunday, August 12 - 7:30 to 10:30 AM

Enjoy another of Reston’s wooded areas for an early morning walk that should find fledglings of breeding birds in abundance. Sponsored by the Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston.

Getting there:  From I-66 west, to exit 60 to go north on Rte 123.  Turn left on Hunters Mill Road/ Route 674.  Turn left on Lawyers Road, Route 673.  Turn right on Twin Branches Road.  Park along Glade Drive near the intersection with Twin Branches.  Meet at the corner.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA
Sunday, August 19 - 8:00 to 11:00 AM

Come look for the birds that use the woods, fields, and ponds of the gardens for summer residence or for a refueling point on early fall migration.  Meet leader Colt Gregory in the Visitor Center. Usual Garden fees apply. Sponsored by ASNV and Meadowlark.

Fee:  $2.50 for seniors; $5.00 for others

Getting there: The gardens are located off of Beulah Road, between Route 7 and Route 123, south of the Dulles Access Road. From the Beltway, take Route 7 toward Tysons Corner. Drive 4.5 miles west on Route 7, turn left onto Beulah Road and drive 2.5 miles to the gardens entrance on the right. 

Recurring Bird Walks

Several parks in the area have established year-round weekly bird walks. 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

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. 
1675 Reston Pkwy, Ste J, Reston, VA 20194. (703) 437-3335