First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has given us a hand lately on various volunteer programs such as the recent Arbor Day, Earth Day, the Eagle Festival events down at the Occoquan and others. It's important for Audubon to show the flag at these events and we couldn't do it without your volunteer support. Plus, it's fun!

On this note, there are all sorts of ways you can lend a hand. If you're the hands-on type, check out the Audubon at Home program on our website and see whether you would like to become one of our Ambassadors (contact Cliff Fairweather at cliff@audubonva.org or 703-256-6895 if you're interested). But, if you'd rather do a bit of walking, we'd love to have a few more of you volunteer to lead an occasional bird walk. You can lead walks in your community, on one of our programmed walks, or wherever you like. The key to this is to contact us at info@audubonva.org and just say you would like to lend a hand on something. The timing is all yours.

Finally, check out the website because we have a lot of things coming up, including eagle viewing boat rides on the Occoquan on May 22.

Stay in touch, and I hope to see you all at Nature Night in June.


Strong Start for the Audubon At Home Wildlife Sanctuary Program

Cliff Fairweather, ASNV Naturalist

The animals have decided! Over 100 acres of new and existing habitat have been certified under ASNV's new Audubon At Home Wildlife Sanctuary program. In just the last couple of months, we've awarded seven certifications to homes, schools, churches and homeowner association properties ranging from a quarter acre to over 50 acres. These properties can now proudly display the Audubon At Home Wildlife Sanctuary sign.

To certify, wildlife sanctuaries must attract a minimum of ten out of thirty possible sanctuary species that use the sanctuary in some way. That's why we say it's the animals that decide if a property certifies. Sanctuary species include several birds, such as Cooper's hawks and catbirds, but also small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and a variety of beneficial insects; all species that could benefit from additional habitat.

Candidates for certification are also asked to take the Audubon At Home Healthy Yard Pledge and take actions such as planting native plants, reducing pesticide and fertilizer use, and conserving water. Our goal is to measurably expand the amount of healthy native wildlife habitat in Northern Virginia. Visit Audubon At Home on our website for a sanctuary species list, species fact sheets, application form and other information.

None of this success is possible without the hard work and dedication of our volunteer Audubon At Home Ambassadors who advise and guide property owners in developing their wildlife sanctuaries and attracting sanctuary species. Our initial corps of six Ambassadors will soon be joined by reinforcements as over a dozen new Ambassadors complete their training, giving us the capacity to engage many more candidates for certification. Partners including the National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Fairfax Master Naturalists and the Virginia Native Plant Society also play a critical role.

For more information about creating your own sanctuary or to become a volunteer Ambassador, please contact Cliff at cliff@audubonva.org or 703-256-6895.

Bird Pictures Needed – big photos of local native birds from calendars and magazines for use in school programs. Please send to ASNV, 4022 Hummer Rd., Annandale, VA 22003 (photos only, not whole magazines). Thank you!

Cliff manages the ASNV Audubon at Home program; he can be reached at cliff@audubonva.org or 703-256-6895.

American Bald Eagle River Cruises

Saturday, May 22, 1 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
Enjoy the beauty of the water on the Miss Rivershore to see the American Bald Eagle. The cruise will take you around the Mason Neck Elizabeth Hartwell National Wildlife Refuge and the Virginia and Maryland Shoreline. The trip is sponsored by ASNV and the Liz Hartwell EnvironmentalEducation Fund and is part of Occoquan River Conservation Day.

Cost: $50 per person, including coffee and pastries.

Limit: Minimum 20 - maximum 30 for each trip. Reservations required (info@audubonva.org or 703-256-6895).

Where: Pick-Up at Occoquan Regional Park Dock, 9751 Ox Road, Lorton, VA 22079.

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.

M&Ms For Everybody

Is there anybody who doesn’t like M&Ms? Especially in trail mix that you take on a birdwalk? I doubt it. But this time, M&M doesn't mean chocolate candy, it means May & Migration, that time of year that sets birders’ hearts a-flutter. Get out and enjoy the season!

Thompson Wildlife Management Area, Linden, VA

Wednesday, May 12, 8:00 AM-early afternoon
Best known for the spectacular trilliums and other wildflowers that carpet the forest, this spot is also great for cerulean, hooded, & Kentucky warblers, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and lots of other wonderful birds. Jay and Carol Hadlock will lead. For directions and additional information, click here.

Frasier Preserve, Great Falls

Saturday, May 15, 7:30 AM
This Nature Conservancy property has rushing stream, upland forest, bottomland forest, meadow and the Potomac River, with opportunities for many birds, plus insects, reptiles and amphibians. Kathy Burger, Glen Gerada and Ed Clark will lead. Be prepared for a 4-mile hike with muddy areas along the Potomac. Register with Kathy at 703-725-9892 or ggerada@yahoo.com. For directions and additional information, click here.

Clark’s Crossing, Vienna

Wednesday, May 19, 7:30-10:30 AM
Join Carol and Jay Hadlock to walk a stretch of the W&OD trail looking for indigo buntings, orchard and Baltimore orioles, yellow-breasted chats and spring warblers. For directions and additional information, click here.

Sky Meadows State Park

Saturday, May 22, 8:30-11:30 AM
Explore some of the varied habitats of the park with Gerco Hoogeweg, in partnership with NVBC. For directions and additional information, click here.

Glade Stream Valley, Reston

Sunday, May 30, 7:30-10:30 AM
Carolyn Williams will lead this walk through one of Reston's birding hotspots. This walk is co-sponsored with Reston Association's EAC and The Bird Feeder. Come a little early for coffee and donuts. For directions and additional information, click here.

Delaware Bay

Saturday, May 29, All Day
This weekend should be the height of red knot migration, along with thousands of other shorebirds. The trip will begin at Bombay Hook NWR, visit several other spots, and end up at Mispillion Light at the Dupont Nature Center in time for low tide, which is the best time for red knot viewing. Participants will meet Larry Meade at Bombay Hook NWR at 9:00 AM and will return home by early evening. Bring a lunch, water, insect repellent, sunhat, binoculars and scope, if you have one. Limit 30. Please sign up with the ASNV office at info@audubonva.org or 703-256-6895. If you have questions, contact Larry at 703-206-9030, 571-275-2523 or uberlarry@aol.com. For directions and additional information, click here.

Sky Meadows State Park

Saturday, June 5, 8:30-11:30 AM
Explore the some of the varied habitats of the park with Marc Ribaudo. For directions and additional information, click here.

Wolf Trap Park for the Performing Arts, Vienna

Wednesday, June 9, 8:00 AM
Join Carol and Jay Hadlock for a walk through mature woods along Wolftrap Run. For directions and additional information, click here.

Difficult Run Stream Valley Park, Oakton

Sunday, June 13, 7:30-10:30 AM
Join Nick Newberry, one of our outstanding teen birders, on this walk through tall deciduous woods, open flood plain and an area that is perpetually flooded. This is Nick’s backyard and he knows it like the back of his hand. Possible sightings include yellow-throated vireo, indigo bunting, barred owl, yellow-billed cuckoo, scarlet tanager, orioles and yellow-breasted chat. Some parts of the path may be muddy; wear appropriate footwear. For directions and additional information, click here.

Franklin Farm, Herndon

Saturday, June 19, 8:00 AM
Join Matt Bender to explore the ponds, woods and meadows in this area that is Matt’s backyard. For directions and additional information, click here.

Buttermilk Creek, Reston

Sunday, June 27, 7:30-10:30 AM
Explore the forest, stream valley and a marshy area near Lake Fairfax that we have not previously explored. Cindy Foster will lead. For directions and additional information, click here.

Fredericksburg, VA

Date TBD, all day
Details are still being worked out for this trip to be led by Ava Benami. Locations will include Ferry Farm, George Washington's boyhood home, the Canal Path and Alum Springs Park. Check the ASNV website for final arrangements.

And more!!

Remember to check our website regualrly 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 703-256-6895. 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.

Audubon At Home and Beyond

Saturday, May 22, 9 AM - 3 PM
Carol Hadlock's backyard will be your classroom for this workshop, where you will learn to put the principles of Audubon at Home to work in your yard, creating a healthier environment for you, your family, and pets, while at the same time giving birds and pollinators a helping hand. Things should be popping in the garden, the birds will be singing, and outdoor activities will make this a fun, informative day. This workshop will be offered twice this spring on May 8 and May 22. Please specify which day you are enrolling in.

For fees, directions and more information, please visit our website.

And more!!

Remember to check our website regualrly for more walks, classes and other activities.

Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You

Auduboners Should Act; Richmond Auduboners Did

The U.S. Senate has a narrow window of opportunity to pass a clean energy and climate change bill this year and the time is now! Auduboners should urge Virginia U. S. Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb to get involved with Senate leaders’ efforts to craft and pass a bill during this session of Congress. There are effectively only about four months left in this session. They could play a key role in passing a bill in the Senate.

ASNVers could follow the lead of one of our sister chapters, Richmond Audubon. On May 5, four Richmond Auduboners traveled to Washington and met with staffers to the two senators. They asked Virginia's senators to be more pro-active on climate change.

Here are a few things they learned:

Senator Mark Warner is working with Senator John Kerry on how to price carbon emissions. Senator Warner believes that we must use all of our energy resources, including coal, oil, nuclear, wind and solar. He supports reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but he has not committed to a specific target. He has no position on restricting the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency under current law. On establishing a standard for renewable energy, he has no position. He is preparing legislation to provide rebates for retrofitting homes to be more energy efficiency, tentatively called "Home Star."

Senator Jim Webb is still examining various approaches. He has several concerns: a cap and trade system could be too easily manipulated; there is no guarantee that China will reduce emissions if the United States does. The various bills and international agreements do not address black carbon, emissions which from many developing countries that are the primary contributor to the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. He cannot support measures that might make the United States less competitive internationally. He has introduced a bill to provide more federal support for renewable fuels and nuclear power.

If you are willing to visit our U.S. senators, please e-mail Glenda Booth, ASNV Advocacy Chair at gbooth123@aol.com and we can request a meeting.

Oil Spill Policies under Scrutiny

The April 20 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has once again called attention to the dangers of offshore oil drilling and the United States' dependence on fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet at unsustainable rates. Several elected officials who have supported off-shore drilling are re-evaluating their positions.

President Obama has announced that his Administration will delay approving any more leases or permits for offshore drilling. Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb told Richmond Auduboners on May 5 that they support the president's decision. For information on what the National Audubon Society is doing, including recruiting and managing volunteers, visit www.audubon.org.

Virginians Want a Cleaner Environment

Just over half of Virginians give the state's environment a grade of C and 77 percent of Virginians want government to improve that grade by addressing climate change, according to an April Christopher Newport University poll. Becoming more energy efficient was the second priority. The poll suggests that Virginia's residents believe our environment is getting worse: 51 percent gave it a C this year; 41 percent gave it a C last year.

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.

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.

Help Audubon Society Respond to the Gulf Oil Spill Damage

As you may have seen in a note from National Audubon Society, Audubon Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi staff and chapters are preparing for impacts to birds, wildlife and important habitat from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Audubon is coordinating volunteer efforts and you can help!

If you are interested in volunteering, please click here.

Check out Our Photo Album!

© Larry Meade

Were you lucky enough to see the varied thrush that's been visiting Herndon? If not, you can see Larry Meade's picture of the Western visitor on our Flickr site. If you’re not a member yet, join today. It’s easy.

Annual Butterfly Count

Join in the Annual Butterfly Count at the Occoquan Bay NWR and Meadowood Recreation Area, Saturday, June 26, 8:00 a.m. – 1 p.m. This is the 10th year of ASNV's participation in the North American Butterfly Association's "4th of July Count."

For details and to RSVP, contact Jim Waggener at 703-567-3555 or jwagge3093@aol.com.

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
- May 12
- May 26
- June 16
- June 30

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
- May 19
- June 9
- June 23

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:
  • May 14, Metz Wetlands
  • May 21, Occoquan Regional Park
  • May 28, Occoquan Bay NWR
  • June 4, Meadowood
  • June 11, Metz Wetlands
  • June 18, Occoquan Regional Park
  • June 25, Occoquan Bay NWR

Eakin Park Bird Walk

Hidden Oaks Nature Center (FCPA) sponsors weekly bird walks along the Accotink Stream Valley.

Spring has come to the Accotink Stream Valley park. Many of our winter birds have left for their breeding grounds though there are a few lingering yellow-rumped warblers and white-throated sparrows. Some migrants are just passing through such as blue-headed vireo, hermit thrush, American redstart, and black-throated blue warbler. They stay just long enough for us to enjoy their fresh breeding plumage and to confuse us with their songs. Others including Acadian flycatcher, eastern wood-pewee, eastern phoebe, red-eyed vireo, wood thrush, northern parula, ovenbird, gray catbird, and eastern towhee migrate here and stay to breed. We've recently had close encounters with a barred owl and a red-shouldered hawk and saw a cute little raccoon peering out of a tree cavity. We just never know what we'll run into.

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.

Are You Interested in Natural History?

The Education Committee of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia coordinates ASNV's workshops. If you have ideas for classes, would like to teach a workshop, know of good instructors, or would like to help in any way, we welcome your thoughts. We meet approximately 4 to 6 times a year. Please send your feedback to Kristy Liercke at kliercke@verizon.net or 703-255-3021. Thanks!

ASNV, 4022 Hummer Road, Annandale, VA 22003 • Phone: 703-256-6895 • Fax: 703-256-2060 • Email: info@audubonva.org
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