July/August 2017

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In this Newsletter

  • President's Corner
  • How to Lead a Successful Nature Walk
  • Confusing Fall Warblers
  • 2017 Christmas Bird Count
  • Two Audubon Afternoons
  • Welcome to Our New Directors
  • Old Cars and Beautiful Birds – Cuba!
  • Take Action
  • Bird Walks
  • Recurring Bird Walks
  • Other News

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 for more details or to reserve your space.


General Surveys

Meadowood on Mason Neck (7:30AM - 12 PM) 

  • July 12
  • August 16
  • September 13

Occoquan Bay NWR  (7:30AM - 12 PM)

  • July 26
  • August 30
  • September 27

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys   (8:30 am-12:30 pm)

Butterfly & Dragonfly surveys will be starting up in April on Fridays, 8:30am-12:00pm.
  • Occoquan Bay area Annual Butterfly Count - Jul 1
  • Occoquan Regional Park - Jul 7
  • Occoquan Bay NWR - Jul 14
  • Meadowood Recreation Area -Jul 21
  • Metz - Jul 28
  • Occoquan Regional Park - Aug 4
  • Occoquan Bay NWR - Aug 11
  • Meadowood Recreation Area - Aug 18
  • Metz - Aug 25
  • Occoquan Regional Park - Sept 1
  • Occoquan Bay NWR - Sept 8
Any survey may be changed or canceled for weather, etc. up to an hour before the scheduled start.

Make a Difference!  Volunteer


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 elected officials to support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 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 the ASNV office.

President's Corner

On behalf of the young red fox asleep on my deck this morning, and the fat bumblebees on the buttonbush – it is time to enjoy summer!
Please join me in welcoming new Board of Directors members Andrea Auerbach, Cathy Blowers, Robin Duska, and Traci McGillicuddy, who were elected at our Annual Membership meeting on June 11. Short biographies for them can be found later in this newsletter. They join us with strong backgrounds and a wealth of good ideas for furthering our mission.  We’re looking forward to working with them. Contact information and biographies for all Board members can be found here on our website.

And our thanks to outgoing Board members Mary McLean, Melanie LaForce, and Barbara Tuset.  Mary has been key in starting up our Youth Education program, including reviving our annual scholarship to the summer Educators Week Workshop at Audubon’s Hog Island in Maine.  Melanie deserves our thanks for the work she has done at Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington, including her “Hummingbirds at Home” program.  And Barbara, as Director of the Audubon at Home program (alas for too short a time), has continued to expand the reach of the program and strengthen our partner relationships across the region.  ASNV is an organization of volunteers, and Mary, Melanie, and Barbara have given more than most. 

Mark these down for the fall: 
  • September 2, How to Lead a Successful Nature Walk, with Carol Hadlock.  Read More...
  • September 10 Audubon Afternoon – The Challenges of Bird Illustration, With Artist and Field Guide Illustrator John Anderton. Read More...
  • September 14 – Confusing Fall Warblers workshop with Marc Ribaudo. Read More...
  • Slots still open for our Ornithology course with Dr. Bill Stott, starting September 19. Read More...
  • October 22 Audubon Afternoon – Katie Fallon, author of Vulture:  The Private Life of an Unloved Bird. Read More...
  • Slots still open for our trip to Cuba with Holbrook Travel, December 6 – 15.  Read More...
Enjoy the rest of the summer! 
Carl Kikuchi

How to Lead a Successful Nature Walk

Sept 2 2017

Do you love birds? wildflowers? frogs? fungi? or some other aspect of nature?  Do you ever think you might like to share that love with others in an organized way, but are not sure how to do it?  If so, this workshop will answer a lot of questions and give you good tips on how to be a successful leader.  We will spend some time in a classroom setting and follow that up with a walk to practice what you’ve learned.

Instructor:  Carol Hadlock has more than 15 years experience leading the monthly Reston birdwalks and walks for ASNV. 

Date: Saturday, Sept. 2, 9am-Noon
Location: Nature Center (not the Visitor Center), Riverbend Park
Limit: 15
Fee:  $10 – members, $15 – non-members

Confusing Fall Warblers

Class: Sept 14 - Field Trip: Sept 16
Don’t be afraid of the little green jobs!  The workshop will focus on the field marks of fall warblers that typically pass through our region, with an emphasis on species that look very much different in the spring than fall, and species that are most often confused. 

Marc Ribaudo is an avid birder with over 40 years of field experience.  He regularly leads trips for the Northern Virginia Bird Club and Friends of Dyke Marsh. Read More...

2017 Christmas Bird Count

Save the date! The 2017 Christmas Bird count will be held December 17 2017. Mark your calendar!

Two Audubon Afternoons


The Challenges of Bird Illustration with Artist John Anderton

Sunday, September 10, 2017, 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Local artist John Anderton shares original artwork and discusses the diverse challenges of bird illustration, both within a historical perspective and with reference to his current project with the Smithsonian Institution’s Migratory Bird Center. Anderton has depicted birds since childhood and studied evolutionary biology in addition to studio arts. He is chief illustrator of Birds of South Asia (2005) and Birds of New Guinea (2014) among many other smaller publications, has extensive field and museum experience, and has also taught both introductory ornithology and foundation drawing and painting at various institutions.

The meeting will be held at the National Wildlife Center:

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

More of John's illustrations can be seen on our website.

Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird

Sunday, October 22 2017, 3:00 - 5:00 PM
National Wildlife Federation Building (see address above)

Just in time for Halloween!  Vultures are often overlooked, underappreciated, and unloved, despite the vital role they play healthy ecosystems. Worldwide, vultures are more likely to be threatened or endangered than any other group of raptor, but in the United States turkey and black vultures may be increasing in number. Based on Katie Fallon’s new book, this presentation will discuss the life and times of the noble turkey vulture, including its feeding, nesting, and roosting habits, migratory behaviors, and common misconceptions.

Katie Fallon is the author of Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird (2017) and, previously, Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment. She is also the author of two books for children, Look, See the Bird! (June 2017) and Look, See the Farm! (forthcoming 2018). She is co-founder of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the region’s wild birds through research, education, and rehabilitation. Her first word was “bird.”


Welcome to Our New Directors

Join me in welcoming our new Board members!  And a reminder that you can contact any of us through the ASNV website Board of Directors and Coordinators page.

Andrea Auerbach

Andrea has more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning, communications, and partnership building to target environmental issues such as waste reduction, water conservation, pollution prevention, and transportation.  She is a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist and is an enthusiastic volunteer environmental educator at Belvedere Elementary School.  She has participated in environmental education professional development and natural resources continuing education. She has a master’s of natural resources with a focus on education and outreach and completed coursework in environmental education program development, curricula, and evaluation. 

Initially attracted to the environmental field’s critical thinking and multi-perspective approach, Andrea discovered environmental education in a watershed education course in college. Since then, her experiences as a student, field interpreter, and volunteer educator have reinforced her desire to bring environmental education to students.


Catherine Blowers

Cathy began a lifelong love for birds while trying to identify gulls on a California beach with her first Peterson field guide. She continued birding over the years here in the U.S. and in Egypt, South Africa, and Mozambique, where she was posted as a diplomat. Going on countless African safaris, she learned to love and respect all wildlife and developed an awareness of the issues and concerns affecting every facet of the natural world.

Since moving back to northern Virginia in 2008 after a lifetime of moving, she began exploring ways she could contribute to the efforts being made by Audubon and other partner organizations in creating safe places for native wildlife. Paired with her love of gardening, the Audubon Home Program is a natural fit.

Cathy is a member of the National Audubon Society, the Virginia Native Plant Society, the Cornell Lab, National Wildlife Federation, and the National Gardening Association. She earned certification as both a Fairfax County Master Naturalist and Gardener, participates in naturalist and birding walks and talks, and takes courses through Audubon and the Cornell Lab. She is keen to deepen her knowledge of the challenges facing our communities so she can be an effective and knowledgeable advocate for the Audubon at Home Program. 


Robin Duska

Robin’s love of birding was sparked by an Ohio high school teacher who carted her and other teens to Texas and Mexico to see Whooping Cranes and Motmots.  In 2015, she retired after a career spent mostly overseas with two US Government agencies and the United Nations. Now focused on her first love of natural history, Robin volunteers with the Smithsonian, working with the public in the National Museum of Natural History’s Q?rius learning center and with scientists as a cataloguer in its Bird Division.  She is a member of Reston’s Environmental Advisory Committee and is a Fairfax Master Naturalist.  Having entered decades of bird sightings into eBird to generate a life list, she has also become an avid eBirder.

Traci McGillicuddy

Traci has been interested in teaching children and families about the natural world since obtaining her Masters of Education in 2005.  Since then, she has worked at various environmental institutions, including the Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the Children's Science Center in Fairfax.  She recently completed her training as an Arlington Regional Master Naturalist.  In her off-hours, she enjoys being outside as much as possible, whether leading trail walks at Hidden Oaks Nature Center, planting natives at area schools, or pulling invasives in her own backyard.

Old Cars and Beautiful Birds – Cuba!

When one thinks of Cuba, 1950’s era cars come to mind. Yes, those cars are among the sights you will see when you join ASNV’s visit to Cuba, December 6-15, 2017.  These cars are not just keepsakes! They are how many Cubans get around day to day and some are now taxis.

You’ll see those 1950’s Chevrolets or Chryslers on your way to see Cuba’s amazing birds. On the north coast at Cayo Coco, for example, you will find Oriente Warbler, Cuban Black Hawk, Mangrove Cuckoo, and more!

Our trip is through Holbrook Travel. Details and how to sign up are here.
Wondering about the President’s change in U.S. policy toward Cuba?  Holbrook reviews the details here.

Old Cuban Car photo is by Dixie Sommers. More of Dixie's images can be found on our website.

Take Action

Flying Drones in Our Parks?

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board is preparing a policy to address the flying of drones and other unmanned aircraft in the county’s parks.
On June 1, ASNV President Carl Kikuchi sent the Park Authority Board a letter recommending criteria for the policy and urging FCPA to consider certain conservation criteria in managing a grassy field in Laurel Hill Park.  See the letter here.
On June 15, William G. Bouie, Chairman of the Board, wrote ASNV, saying, “We are equally concerned with protecting the sensitive habitats and wildlife entrusted to our care.  As Fairfax County continues to grow, our mission of natural resource stewardship has become even more critical.”   
He indicated that the FCPA study team will present its findings to the Board on July 12, 7:30 p.m., room 941 of the Herrity Building, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.
A good turnout of ASNVers at this meeting would indicate broad support for our recommendations.

Make Conservation a Priority


Special Election, August 29

Many schools are creating outdoor classrooms and integrating nature into teaching and learning.  Here's a chance to voice support for these approaches.

Fairfax County will hold a special election on August 29 to fill a vacancy for a Fairfax County School Board at-large member for the remainder of the present term of office which expires January 1, 2020:
  • July 14: In-Person Absentee Voting Begins
  • August 15: Voter Registration Deadline 5:00 p.m., Online: 11:59 p.m.
  • August 22: Deadline to Apply for an Absentee Ballot by Mail, 5:00 p.m.
  • August 26: Final Day In-Person Absentee Voting
  • August 29: Absentee Ballot Return Deadline, 7:00 p.m.

General Election, November 7

On November 7, Virginians will elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and all members of the Virginia House of Delegates.  Between now and then, Auduboners can advocate for conservation and educate candidates on stronger environmental policies.
To find out who's running, visit the Virginia elections website.


Virginia Environmental Assembly

Save the date, September 22-23 for the Virginia Environmental Assembly, Jepson Alumni Executive Center, Fredericksburg.  Visit www.vcnva.org/assembly.

Bird Walks


Buttermilk Creek and Lake Fairfax, Reston, VA

We will be mostly in the woods, where it’s a bit cooler, but we’ll still have some meadow edges and a variety of bird habitats. Sponsored by The Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

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

Sunday July 9

7:30 to 10:30 AM

Brown’s Chapel, Reston, VA

We’ll walk the woods and the edge of Lake Newport at this popular birding location. 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 August 13

7:30 to 10:30 AM

Mason Neck State Park, Lorton, VA

Meet leader Dixie Sommers at the Visitor’s Center parking where we’ll start by scanning the bay before we head into the woods and marshland.  This is a state park fee area requiring a pass or a $5.00 vehicle fee. Sponsored by ASNV

Getting there: From I-495, take I-95 South 7 miles to Lorton exit. Go left (east) on Route 642 to Route 1. Go right (south) on Rte. 1 and then left (east) on Gunston Rd, Rte. 242. In 4 miles, turn right into Mason Neck Management Area. Meet at the visitor’s center at end of the paved road. 7301 High Point Road, Lorton, VA 22079-4010.

Sunday August 27

8:00 to 11:00 AM


Bright Pond, Reston VA

This area always yields a variety of birds, with pond edge, field and woodland habitats. Sponsored by The Bird Feeder of Reston and the Reston Association.

Getting there:  Take the Reston Parkway north from the Dulles Toll Road or from Baron Cameron Ave. Turn right on Bright Pond Lane and park around the cul-de-sac and along the street.

Sunday, September 17

7:30 to 10:30 AM

Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Arlington VA

Melanie LaForce leads this walk with streamside woodland trails.  Don’t miss the chance to get out and go birding as we start into Fall! Sponsored by ASNV.

Getting there: From the west, take I 66 east to Arlington exit to Lee Highway. Or from the south, take 95/395 North to the Glebe Road North exit. Follow Glebe Road for several miles to Lee Highway.  From Lee Highway or Lorcum Lane, head

Sunday September 24

8:00 to 11:00 AM

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

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...