Hello Everybody!

Be sure to mark Sunday, September 26 on the calendar for our Audubon Afternoon (formerly Nature Night) at the National Wildlife Federation building in Reston from 3-5pm. We have a great speaker, Dr. Laurie Harmon, from George Mason University who will talk on outdoor themes, a topic that will interest all ages. And, remember to bring your binoculars. Weather permitting, we can take a look in the surrounding woods after the meeting.

I also want to thank all those who answered my recent call for volunteers and to let you know we are in the process of getting back to everyone who signaled they might be able to help. As I've mentioned in the past, volunteers are our lifeblood. When you look at the range of our conservation and education programs, all of them are volunteer driven. From the classes and workshops of the education committee, the field trips and conservation counts and surveys and Audubon at Home Program of the conservation committee, to all of the advocacy work we do with local leaders and those in Richmond the comon denominator is the willingness of you our members to give us a bit of your time. So, please keep us in mind and don't hesitate to give us a call if there's something you'd like to help out with.

Stay in touch, Bruce

Why Urban Conservation?

Cliff Fairweather, ASNV Naturalist

At first, the concept of urban conservation seems like an oxymoron. Isn’t conservation about places such as the wildlands of the American west or pristine tropical rainforests? And isn’t urbanization something we’re supposed to be conserving nature from?

Certainly, the protection of remote, wild places throughout the world is a critical component of the conservation agenda and urbanization is clearly a growing global threat to natural places. Nonetheless, we cannot afford to ignore or neglect conservation in the urban environment.

We tend to build cities in areas of high biological productivity and such areas also tend to have high biodiversity. Consider that significant parts of Washington, DC were built on what were once freshwater tidal wetlands. These highly productive and biologically diverse ecosystems are now rare in our region; Dyke Marsh provides one of the last remaining examples.

At the same time, urban areas can harbor surprising biodiversity in their midst. Urban expansion rarely occurs along a uniform front; patches of natural area are often bypassed, leaving behind refugia for native species. Sometime, these patches are protected as parks.

A prime example of this phenomenon is the Potomac River Gorge, which the Nature Conservancy describes as having one of the highest concentrations of globally rare natural communities in the nation. Also, an inventory of natural resources in Arlington found two globally rare native plant communities and fourteen state listed plants in that highly urbanized county.

Urban areas are where the people are and conservation is ultimately about people and the decisions we make. The urban portion of the global population will soon reach fifty-percent for the first time in history, a mark industrialized nations passed long ago. In the words of James Miller and Richard Hobbs in a 2002 article in Conservation Biology, we need to pay more attention to “conservation where people live and work” to ensure that people remain connected to nature and thus willing to support conservation both close to home and further afield.

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.

Bombay Hook NWR, Delaware

Saturday, August 28, all day
Join Larry Meade to look for migrating shorebirds on the refuge and in surrounding areas. Meet Larry at the refuge visitor center at 9:00 AM. Return home by early evening. Bring lunch, water, insect repellent, sunhat, binoculars and scope if you have one. Limit 20. Registration required. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or info@audubonva.org to reserve your space. Questions? Contact Larry at 703-206-9030 (h), 571-275-2523 (c) or uberlarry@aol.com. For directions and additional information, click here.

Swifts and Nighthawks

Sunday, August 29, time and place TBA
This outing will be co-sponsored with Northern Virginia Bird Club. Leaders will be checking our various locations to be sure the Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks will actually be found. Therefore, signups are required and leaders will notify participants on Friday, Aug. 27, of the exact time and meeting place. Registration required. Contact Carol Hadlock at 703-437-7451 or carol_inawren@verizon.net, and leave your name, phone number and email address to reserve your space. For directions and additional information, click here.

Algonkian Regional Park

Thursday, September 9, 8:00 AM
Search for fall migrants in the varied habitats of this riverside park with Bill Brown. For directions and additional information, click here.

Riverbend Park

Saturday, September 11, 10:00 AM-1:00 PM
Even if you don’t like to get up with the birds, you can still enjoy looking for them a little later in the morning. Meet Rob and Chrystal Young at the boat ramp for a walk along the river in search of fall migrants. For directions and additional information, click here.

Upper Glade Stream Valley, Reston

Sunday, September 12, 7:30-10:30 AM
Join Jay and Carol Hadlock for a stroll through this recently restored stream valley. We’ll be keeping our eyes open for fall warblers and lingering summer visitors. For directions and additional information, click here.

Sky Meadows State Park

Saturday, September 18, 8:30-11:30 AM
Ray Smith will lead this month’s walk. Migrating hawks are a good possibility and Red-headed Woodpeckers are very reliable. For directions and additional information, click here.

NatureFest at Runnymede Park in Herndon

Sunday, September 19, 1:00-5:00 PM
This family event takes place each September in the park, with nature activities for all ages. Stations will include tagging and releasing Monarch butterflies, stream monitoring, animals of the park, native plants, and birds, to name just a few. Stop by and visit with ASNV folks at the birding station. At 3:00 PM, Lois Auer will be showing some of her raptors and talking about their importance in the park. For directions and additional information, click here.

Burke Lake Park

Thursday, September 30, 8:00 AM
Beginners are welcome on this walk, led by Kathleen Britts and Jen Connors. We’ll check the woods and the lake for residents, lingering summer visitors and arriving fall migrants. Meet at the carousel parking lot, first left after entering the park. Limit 10. Registration required. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or info@audubonva.org to reserve your space. For directions and additional information, click here.

Bright Pond, Reston

Sunday, October 10, 7:30-10:30 AM
A variety of habitats makes this always an interesting walk, led by Bill Brown. For directions and additional information, click here.

Huntley Meadows Park

Saturday, October 30, 8:00 AM
No matter what time of year, Huntley Meadows is always a great place to bird. Join Bill Brown to explore the wetland and the woods. For directions and additional information, click here.

Occoquan Bay NWR

Sunday, November 7, 8:00 AM
Winter birds should be arriving; join Rich Reiger to explore this mix of habitats. For directions and additional information, click here.

Lake Newport and Brown’s Chapel, Reston

Sunday, November 21, 7:30-10:30 AM
Kevin Munroe will lead this exploration of an “under-birded” area of Reston. Lake, open field and woods habitats should yield a variety of species. For directions and additional information, click here.

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.

Raptors in the Sky

Saturday, October 2, 9 AM - 1 PM
Join local hawkwatcher Nolan Britt for a field-based workshop to increase your hawk identification skills. Nolan will review major migration routes of hawks and flight identification before taking position on the mountaintop at Waggoner's Gap near Carlisle, PA to view the migration. This is one of the best sites in the Eastern U.S. for hawk migration, with hundreds of Sharp-shinned Hawks expected to pass by on a daily basis in early October! For directions and additional information, click here.

Of All the Gall(s)!

Sunday, October 31, 9 AM - 1 PM
Scientists call them an abnormal growth on a plant for the benefit and under the control of another organism. Edwin Way Teale called them an edible home. By whatever definition, gall-making insects have fascinating and often bizarre life histories. Join ASNV naturalist Cliff Fairweather for an introduction to insect galls in a lecture and walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. While we’re sharpening our gall search image, we’ll also keep an eye out for fall migrants and other signs of the changing seasons. For directions and additional information, click here.

Native Plant Propagation: Expand Your Garden

Saturday, October 9, 10 AM - 1 PM
Join us for a fun and practical workshop on plant propagation methods and a hands-on opportunity to pot some selected native plants. Working at the Virginia Native Plant Society Potomack Chapter's propagation beds at Green Spring Gardens, class members will learn how the chapter members prepare for plant sales. You will take away some plants that are sure to enhance your home landscape. For directions and additional information, click here.

Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You

U. S. Representatives at Stake in November Election

Virginians will elect all members of the U. S. House of Representatives on November 2. For information on filed candidates and deadlines, click here. To volunteer to help the candidate of your choice, Google his or her name to find the campaign office. To learn about the 2009 environmental record of incumbents in the current U. S. Congress, view League of Conservation Voters' scorecard.

Speak Out on Fairfax County Parks

Auduboners have a great opportunity to advocate for more natural areas and connectivity of natural areas in Fairfax County in a series of meetings on the County’s "draft park strategies for future parkland acquisition, facility service delivery and reinvestment, connectivity and resource protection and interpretation." Park planners are seeking the public’s views on the draft comprehensive park system plan. Read the plan and view the schedule online.

Climate Bill Setback; Conservationists Hopeful

Legislation to restrict US EPA in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is anticipated in this fall in both the U. S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Senate leaders announced in late July that the Senate would not take up a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill before the Senate’s August recess because 60 senators would not commit to voting for a comprehensive bill. Most major conservation groups expressed disappointment in this announcement and urged the Senate to pass a bill this year. Clean energy and climate change are National Audubon’s top federal legislative priorities. It is not clear at this time what the Senate will do.

Conservationists must continue to be vigilant on two issues:

1. Protect the EPA's right to oversee greenhouse gas emissions

Bills are expected that would limit the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s use of its current Clean Air Act authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. National Audubon urges all Auduboners to ask legislators to oppose legislation that would curb EPA’s authority to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Jim Webb has already voiced his opinion that the EPA's control should be limited. Audoboners can help convince him othewise:
  • The current Clean Air Act is designed to protect human health and welfare. Greenhouse gas emissions are a threat to human health. For example, as the Earth warms, we will have increased incidences of vector-borne diseases and respiratory illnesses. EPA has a responsibility to protect the public health and needs the legal tools to do so.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 reaffirmed that U.S. EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the current Clean Air act.
  • EPA, using this authority, is beginning to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, from, for example, vehicles. EPA is merely doing what the Clean Air Act already requires -- and what it was ordered to do by the Supreme Court.
  • Hamstringing EPA would seriously set back 40 years efforts to improve air quality.

2. Keep pressing for an energy and climate change bill

The National Audubon Society asks all Auduboners to urge Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb to pass a comprehensive bill this year. Here are some points you could make:
  • Climate change is one of the most serious environmental threats to ever face the planet.
  • The House of Representatives passed a bill last year and President Obama has asked Congress to act.
  • Senator Warner and Senator Jim Webb should take strong leadership roles. They are key to moving a bill forward.
  • The Virginia Climate Commission asked Virginia’s legislators to act.
  • The past decade was the warmest on record. Increased warming without curtailing greenhouse gas emissions will bring more violent weather events, more drought, more sea level rise, more vector-borne diseases and higher energy costs.
  • The disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Virginia coal mining accident are unfortunate reminders of our heavy reliance on fossil fuels and the need to transition to cleaner sources of energy.
  • Moving to clean energy and energy efficiency can create jobs.
  • Many other nations have acted. The United States should do. We are losing credibility nationally.
Visit the National Audubon Society's website for clean energy and climate fact sheets.

Birds and Towers: Fairfax County to Tackle Towers Issues

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has established a Committee on Telecommunications to review siting criteria, environmental impacts and other issues associated with the construction and operation of communication towers in Fairfax County. The creation of this committee is in part the result of a recommendation of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and concerns about the impact of towers on birds.

The first public meeting of the committee will be on September 15 in the Board of Supervisors’ conference room, 7 p.m., Fairfax County Government Center, Fairfax. The members of the Planning Commission’s committee are Janet Hall, Mason District; Peter Murphy, Springfield; and John Litzenberger, Sully District.

ASNV asked the county to create process to establish guidelines for the siting of towers and County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Sharon Bulova wrote ASNV on August 31 as follows:

". . . I requested that this issue be reviewed by the Department of Planning and zoning (DPZ). You will be pleased to learn that, as a result of this review, the Fairfax County Planning Commission will be forming a new committee on telecommunications." ASNV will attend this and future meetings.

In our letter to the county we made these points:
  • The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) estimates that at least five million birds -- and possibly as many as 50 million -- are killed every year by towers nationwide.
  • On foggy or stormy nights, birds tend to migrate towards the lights on towers instead of avoiding them because birds that fly at night typically orient themselves by the stars, and on particularly cloudy nights, may confuse lights on communication towers as stars. Birds can also collide with towers, crash into guy wires, fly into each other or circle the structures repeatedly and become exhausted.
  • More than 60 percent of species killed by towers are FWS “birds of conservation concern,” meaning birds that need immediate conservation attention to survive environmental challenges, including habitat loss, invasive species and global warming.

How Did They Vote

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters has scored the 2010 conservation votes of all members of the Virginia General Assembly. Visit their website to learn how your state senator and delegate voted. The General Assembly will convene again in January 2011 and all delegates will be up for election next year.

Check out Our Photo Album!

Have you visited our Flickr photo album recently? If not, you can stop by for a visit today to see the latest photos and comments. If you’re not a member yet, join today. It’s easy.

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
  • September 29
  • October 13
  • October 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
  • September 22
  • October 6
  • October 20
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:
  • September 24, Meadowood
  • October 1, Metz
  • October 8, Occoquan Regional Park
  • October 15, Occoquan Bay NWR
  • October 22, Meadowood
  • October 29, Metz

The Nature of Meadowood

  • Saturday, October 16 (our final trip of the year)
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.

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.

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.

Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count

Our annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 19th. I expect most of you will want to continue in the same sector you have been counting in the past. Your sector leader will be contacting you in November. If you are new to our CBC and want to volunteer, would like to be in a different sector or want to volunteer early, contact ASNV at 703-438-6008 or info@audubonva.org.

More information will be provided in future newsletters.

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!

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.

Local Events

Potomac Watershed Trash Summit, Washington, D.C., September 22.

Valuing Urban Forests, Arlington, September 23 and 24.

Pausing to Consider Alternative Outcomes; An Entrepreneurial Look at Earth and its People, Arlington Central Library, September 27.

Eco-Friendly Restaurant Expo, Alexandria, September 28.

Community Energy Forum, Arlington County, October 21.

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