I hope everyone's been enjoying the fall weather, and getting outside. Raptor watches are still going on in various places right now and we're hoping to see a lot of you over the next couple of months at our annual Christmas Bird Count on December 18 and our annual winter waterfowl count in January. Larry Cartwright will host a waterfowl workshop in advance of the count so check the web for dates and times.
Also, don't forget December 11 at Potomac Overlook Regional Park for our Audubon Afternoon featuring our great guest speaker, author, Katie Fallon. It will be a festive afternoon and hope to see you there. It looks to me that the coming year is going to he hard on environmentalists and as we keep an eye on Richmond, and the bills likely to come-up in the new year's session, contact us if you'd like to add your voice to the mix and we'll help you get involved.
Happy birding, and please stay in touch, Bruce
Thank You Audubon at Home Volunteers!
A note from Terry Liercke and Cliff Fairweather
We held the 2nd Annual Audubon at Home (AAH) End of the Growing Season Pot Luck on Sunday, Nov. 6 and it was great to see the 25 volunteers and clients who joined us for the event. We ate lots of good food, shared our experiences with creating wildlife habitat on our property using native plants, and exchanged native plants and seeds from our gardens.
The AAH program has had another strong year and we are now up to 52 certified wildlife sanctuaries comprising 309 acres. At least three more sanctuaries should be certified before the end of the year. None of this and our many other accomplishments would have been possible without the help of our volunteers. Not only have they provided free consultations to dozens of homeowners throughout the region, but many have assisted us with outreach efforts, Ambassador training, AAH workshops, and special projects such as the Shady Backyard Demonstration Garden. We want to give a big THANK YOU to these volunteers.
Our Ambassadors include: Alison Smith, Amol Kaikini, Carl Kikuchi, Pam McMillie, Sarah Mayhew, Diana Handy, Erik Oberg, Karen Baragona, Alan Ford, Kim Scudera, Carol Sottili, Debbie Humphreys, Josefina Doumbia, Elizabeth Martin, Rachael Bayly, Tom Attanaro, Caroline Haynes, Joanne Hutton and Al Alborn. I’d also like to welcome new Ambassadors Nancy Christmus, Diana Carter, and Nippy Page.
Others who have contributed time and expertise to the success of the AAH program this year are: Carol Hadlock, Jim McGlone, Jenn Truong, Robin Rentsch, Kevin Munroe, and Kathy Landis.
We have also had lots of help from formal and informal partner organizations. These include Earth Sangha, the Virginia Native Plant Society Potowmack Chapter, Fairfax Master Naturalists, Arlington Master Naturalists, Prince William Master Gardeners and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia.
Finally, we would like to thank those who have been involved in the Audubon at Home program as clients and Wildlife Sanctuary program participants. You play the key role in achieving the primary goal of the program: restoring and conserving habitat in our backyards, schoolyards, places of worship and wherever else the opportunity to do so presents itself.
We look forward to continuing to work with all of you!
Time to Sign Up for our Annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count!
Our annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 18. Our count circle is around Centreville and includes Manassas Battlefield, parts of Bull Run Regional Park, undeveloped areas south of Dulles Airport, and many stream valley parks and undeveloped locations from Clifton to west Fairfax City. We need people in all of these areas.
As in the past, we’ll be offering a hot lunch to participants. We have had good turnouts the past couple of years, but we always need new volunteers. Those of you who participated last year will be contacted by your sector leader in the near future to ask about this year. If you don’t hear from your sector leader, or if you would like to be in a different sector, simply contact the ASNV office. Also, this year, we will be offering an opportunity for feeder watchers. If you or someone you know lives within the count circle and cannot go out on the count, he or she can sit inside and count the birds that come to a feeder on count day as an alternate way to participate.
If you are new to CBCs and want to volunteer, contact the ASNV office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-438-6008. More information will be provided in next month’s newsletter.
2011 ASNV Northern Virginia Bird Survey
The 18th annual Northern Virginia Bird Survey (NVBS), ASNV’s comprehensive breeding bird count, took place last June. Many thanks to the forty-three volunteers (nine new to the NVBS) who collected data at 643 grid points located at more than twenty-five sites and counted 9,931 birds representing 99 species. Since the survey began, 175,141 birds have been counted. With the addition of 5,780 new Excel records this year, the database now contains 96,115 records each with detailed count information about a single species at a single survey point.
Northern cardinal was the top species in both numbers and distribution and was followed by tufted titmouse. American robin and red-eyed vireo came in third in numbers and distribution respectively. Crow numbers remained low and were not significantly different from last year. No new species were added this year so the total number of species for the life the survey remains at 151. Species encountered in 2011 but not in 2010 included common merganser, black duck, yellow-crowned night-heron, willow flycatcher, rose-breasted grosbeak, and black-throated green warbler. Present in 2010 but not this year – ring-billed gull, Caspian tern, hooded merganser, spotted sandpiper, American kestrel, and marsh wren.
We are in the process of updating the population trends of representative species reported in our book Birds in Northern Virginia: Documenting the Nature of Change: The Northern Virginia Bird Survey by incorporating the data from the 2006-2010 surveys. We hope to publish this information soon.
Carolyn Williams, Director ASNV NVBS
Upcoming Field Trips
Registration is not required unless noted. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or email@example.com 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.
No local walks are scheduled this month. Please volunteer to help with the Christmas Bird Counts taking place in Northern Virginia this month.
Northern Neck Weekend
Friday, December 2, 3 PM - Sunday, December 4
Reservations required. Cost: $20. Limit 20. RSVP to Ray Smith at 571-286-7856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make checks payable to ASNV and mail to the office at 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Suite 100, Reston, VA 20190.
Ray Smith will again lead this popular weekend of early winter birding. We begin around Warsaw, VA, on Friday afternoon, spend all day Saturday from George Washington’s birthplace, down the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay and back up the Rappahanock, to Warsaw. Sunday morning we will bird the Rappahannock Valley NWR and travel back towards Fredericksburg, birding several private ponds along Rt. 3. Click here for complete details, directions and reservation / payment information.
Virginia Beach Weekend
Friday, January 27 - Sunday, January 29
Reservations required. Cost: $20, plus extra for police escort on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel islands and a tram ride at Back Bay NWR. Limit 20. RSVP to Ray Smith at 571-286-7856 or email@example.com. After registering with Ray, please send your check for $20, made payable to ASNV, to ASNV, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Suite 100, Reston, VA, 2019020190.
This unique winter trip, led by Ray Smith, will include the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel islands, Back Bay NWR, Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR, Kiptopeke State Park and other interesting places. Many unusual birds are possible, including harlequin ducks, purple sandpipers, eiders, gannets and more.Click here for complete details, directions and reservation / payment information.
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.
Winter Waterfowl Workshop
A waterfowl identification workshop as a prep for the annual Winter Waterfowl Survey on January 21 and 22. The session will focus on basic identification skills for common wintering waterfowl in the area. We will look at both drakes and hens. The workshop will be conducted at Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and State Park overlooking the Great Marsh and Belmont Bay. To register, contact the ASNV office via phone (703-438-6008) or email.
Note: The Waterfowl Survey will take place during the weekend of January 21 and 22. The survey takes place at various points along the Potomac River and at inland lakes, ponds and other standing bodies of water that attract waterfowl. Birders of all levels are welcome. To volunteer for the survey, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-438-6008.
When: Saturday, January 14, 9AM
Where: Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Meet at the Wood Marsh Trail parking lot. From Route 1, proceed down Gunston Road until you see the signs for the refuge and state park on your right (4 or 5 miles) at High Point Road. Wood Marsh Trail Parking lot will be on your left approximately 1 mile down High Point Road.
Instructor: Larry Cartwright, Waterfowl Survey Coordinator
Limit: 20 participants
Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You
Communication Towers in Parks?
Would you like to help prepare Audubon comments on siting cellphone towers in public parks? I am willing to set up a meeting to discuss this with county parks’ staff if enough people are interested, so let me know. If there is any interest, we should meet in mid-November or early December.
The Fairfax County Park Authority is considering changes in its policy addressing locating communication towers and related facilities in county parks. We may want to support some of the current policies, urge that they be retained or suggest new ones. Other jurisdictions may be wrestling with these issues as well.
As pressure to construct more towers increases to expand cellphone and other online connections, I believe it is important for the conservation community to weigh in. Some companies and government officials consider parks appropriate places because "there is nothing there," they say.
Communications towers impact natural resources in several ways:
The Fish & Wildlife Service has developed siting guidelines. For more information on the issues, including the FWS guidelines, visit http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/towers.html.
- Their footprint can disturb natural areas. The Park Authority does not conduct a biological inventory of sites when companies seek to locate facilities in parks.
- Lights on towers can confuse birds’ internal navigation systems.
Contact Glenda Booth at email@example.com if you would like to help.
Join a Legislative Contact Team Today
You can help make democracy work for the environment. Join the educated, committed conservationists who serve on Legislative Contact Teams across Virginia. These teams of friends and neighbors commit to meeting with their elected officials before and during the General Assembly session. Virginia Conservation Network and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters provide the teams with accurate, timely information on natural resource issues coming before the General Assembly.
Thanks to these volunteers, state lawmakers hear directly from their voters about critical environmental issues. Most state egislators report that as few as five phone calls represent a “groundswell’ of interest on any given issue. Your input really does make a difference.
Want to help? Visit www.vcnva.org and click "get involved." After signing up for a Legislative Contact Team, you will receive a welcome packet with the information you need to get started, including the name of your legislators and other volunteers in your district.
Gear Up for the General Assembly
Save the date, December 3, for the Virginia Conservation Network’s annual legislative workshop in the state capitol in Richmond. The morning sessions will be issues presentations. Afternoon sessions will focus on advocacy.
Legislators' Conservation Voting Record
Learn how your elected representatives voted on key conservation issues in 2011 by visiting the League of Conservation Voters online.
Virginia Seeks Comments on “Non-game” Species
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is seeking public comments on wildlife diversity or 'non-game' regulations in the state as part of a biennial review. Until November 30, DGIF will be in the scoping phase.
Here’s DGIF’s description: "Wildlife diversity includes regulation of those wildlife species not hunted, fished or trapped. In this earliest, scoping stage of the current regulatory review process, VDGIF staff is soliciting the public's views on what changes in regulations citizens would like to see. During this period, staff also collects and analyzes biological and sociological data relevant to regulatory issues. Such information typically includes constituent satisfaction survey results, conversations or meetings with constituents in groups and individually, and other forms of feedback from the public that occurs continuously including before the scoping period."
Current regulations address issues such as animal population control, feeding of deer and bear and poisoning birds and animals.
You can submit your comments online.
Save the date!
Our annual Christmas Bird Count will be on December 18. More details coming soon...
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
- November 30
- December 28
- January 25
- February 29
- March 28
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
- December 14
- January 11
- February 15
- March 14
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.