I hope everyone is enjoying the last official days of summer. Now that school has started for the year and vacations are over, and even though it won't snow for a long while, thoughts inevitably turn to the fall, don't they? But this time of year is more than Halloween and getting a jump on Christmas shopping, it's also a great time to be outdoors trying to ID, parse or otherwise separate those confusing fall warblers and all the other species in the big migration wave.
Fall is also a great time to rethink your garden and get a little planting in. On that note, we're rerunning last month's update from Cliff Fairweather, our naturalist: Fall- The Best Time for Planting. In the coming year, we are going to be talking a lot about the direct relationship between what you plant in your small but unique habitat and the overall health of bird life in our area. Our Audubon at Home program connects the two in a very direct way and it's a program I hope you all take a close look at. Not only is it wonderful for what it does for the environment, but it is also a way of connecting kids to nature by demonstrating the connection between habitat and wildlife. And, it's free!
Don't forget Audubon Afternoon on September 25 at the Pohick Regional Library. David Bryant will speak about the status of returning bobwhite quail to Virginia, as well as a number of other species. It's a good occasion for you to ask questions and it's from 3-5pm.
Stay in touch, Bruce
Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count
Our annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 18th. We 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, please contact ASNV at 703-438-6008 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information will be provided in future newsletters.
Also, please come to our free CBC Workshop, where you can learn about CBCs and brush up on your counting skills. It’s on Sunday, October 29th at 2 PM at the NWF building, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr, Reston. Please contact ASNV at 703-438-6008 or email@example.com to register.
Fall: The Best Time for Planting
Cliff Fairweather, ASNV Naturalist
Spring planting gets all the attention with big plant sales and crowded garden centers, but fall is really the best time to plant. I consulted with a number of native plant gardeners in the Audubon at Home program about fall planting and I am now passing their wisdom on to you.
Fall is the best time to plant for a number of reasons. First, the plants are going dormant at this time of year and so they are less susceptible to transplant shock. In the spring, plants are expending a lot of energy on new growth, leaving them with fewer reserves to cope with the stress of transplanting.
Another good reason to plant in the fall is the weather. Summer temperatures are moderating so plants are suffering less water stress and so they don’t need as much water. Moreover, we generally have more rain, including soaking tropical storms that save us from turning on the tap. Still, you’ll have to give them some water, so water long (and patiently!) enough to encourage deep root growth.
Virginia Native Plant Society Potowmack Chapter President Alan Ford offers this advice on watering: "Water once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year. This is most appropriate for trees but any plant will benefit. Reset your schedule any time you get an inch of rain or more."
Cooler fall weather is easier on your plants and it’s easier on you than gardening in the summer heat. In our area, you can plant at least into November with natives - but resist the urge to tidy up the garden too much. Left-over seed heads feed birds and other animals, while plant stalks and leaves harbor insect eggs, larvae and pupae that will be next year’s pollinators and bird food. Also, take advantage of the autumn leaf-drop to create free mulch and compost.
Finally, fall planting gives your plants three seasons to get established and grow deep roots before they have to endure summer drought. I think conservation horticulturist Nancy Christmus sums up the logic of fall planting very nicely, "Just allow nature to work its magic; the plant will go dormant and appear in spring ready to rock and roll."
Thank you to Alan Ford, Robin Rentsch, Kevin Munroe, Pam McMillie, and Nancy Christmus for their garden wisdom!
Christmas Bird Count Workshop
Ever wonder how and why we count birds on a Christmas Bird Count? Want to improve your counting skills? Want to get ready for ASNV’s 2011 CBC, which will be held on December 18? Curious about what each team member on a CBC does? Come and find out the answers to these questions and more. ASNV will offer a CBC workshop to share experiences and discuss techniques for maximizing the number of birds counted when you are in the field. This workshop is for all levels, whether you are a new birder or a regular who wants to find out how to be a sector leader. To register, contact the ASNV office via phone (703-438-6008) or email.
When: Sunday, October 30, 2PM
Where: 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston.
Instructor: Bob Shipman, CBC Coordinator
Limit: 12 participants
Audubon at Home Workshops
We have started a new series of Audubon at Home workshop to provide enrichment for Audubon at Home clients and additional training for our volunteer Ambassadors. These programs vary for 1.5 – 3 hours and are typically held in private homes or local parks. Workshop will be offered free to current and trainee Audubon at Home Ambassadors.
Less Lawn. More Biodiversity!
Saturday, September 24, 10 AM - noon
Join us at professional conservation horticulturalist Nancy Christmus' beautiful home habitat to raise your awareness about the hazards of turf grass and to learn steps to reduce or eliminate your lawn. Most Americans recognize the importance of protecting the environment; however, many of us think it's hard to make a positive impact while also fulfilling our desire for appealing, easy care, landscaping. Find out how you can do both with native plants. For directions and additional information, click here.
Dealing with Invasive Exotics
Sunday, October 23, 1 - 3 PM
Join English ivy, porcelain berry, wisteria, oriental bittersweet... the list of invasive exotics goes on! Jenn Troung, former invasive exotics program coordinator for the Cooperative Extension office in Arlington will guide us on how to identify some of the more common invasive exotics and how to control them in your yard and neighborhood. This program will include both classroom and field components. For directions and additional information, click here.
Learn More Online...
Visit our website to learn more about Audubon at Home, these workshops, and to read our blog. Each workshop is limited to 12 participants. Contact the ASNV office at 703-438-6008 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to reserve your space.
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.
Saturday, October 1, 7:30 AM
We’ll start in the meadow, looking for any late migrants and early arrivals. If it’s quiet there, we’ll move down to the river. For directions and additional information, click here.
Bright Pond, Reston
Sunday, October 9, 7:30-10:30 AM
This is one of Reston’s birding hotspots; join leader Andy Rabin for what is always an interesting morning. For directions and additional information, click here.
Bles Park, Loudoun County
Wednesday, October 12, 8 AM
This park along the Potomac and Broad Run can turn up some interesting surprises. Meet Bill Brown in the parking lot. For directions and additional information, click here.
Bristoe Station Park, Prince William County
Saturday, October 15, 7:30 AM
Visit this new battlefield heritage park with Marc Ribaudo, and search for sparrows and other grass and meadow birds. For directions and additional information, click here.
Runnymede Park, Herndon
Saturday, October 29, 8 AM
Join Jay and Carol Hadlock for a walk along Sugarland Run, looking for early fall migrants. The path is natural surface and may be muddy in places, and there is a rocky stretch. Wear appropriate footwear. For directions and additional information, click here.
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.
Introduction to Birds of Prey: Lecture and Field Trip
Class: Sunday, October 9, 2-3:30 PM
Field trip: Saturday, October 15, 10 AM - 1:30 PM
Learn about birds of prey in the Washington D.C. area! This program explores identification and ecology of these remarkable animals. Participants will have the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with our park’s resident rehabilitated raptors. For the field trip, join a naturalist in a canoeing and hiking exploration of the Mason Neck peninsula. Birds of prey abound, including bald eagles, osprey and hawks. Participants will canoe the marsh at Pohick Bay in the morning, and then hike at Pohick Bay Regional Park and Mason Neck State Park in the afternoon. (Lecture open to all. Field trip participants must attend lecture.) For directions and additional information, click here.
Advocacy Update: Conservation Depends on You
November 8 Election in Virginia
Virginians will elect the entire General Assembly (House of Delegates and state Senate) on November 8. Many jurisdictions will elect local officials, a Commonwealth's Attorney and Soil and Water Commissioners. To learn who has filed as a candidate, election calendars, ballot issues and offices on the November ballot, visit the Virginia State Board of Elections by clicking here.
In-person “Absentee” Voting
Check with your local elections board on where, when and how to vote “absentee” in-person, ahead of time.
Absentee Voting by Mail Ballot
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot by mail is Tuesday, November 1, 5:00 p.m. Your voted ballot must be received by your local elections board by 7 p.m. November 8.
Registering to Vote
To vote on November 8, you must register by October 17. You must be 18 by November 8.
In-Person Voter Registration Deadline
Monday, October 17, 4:30 p.m. (If you are registered at your current address, you do not need to register again.)
By Mail, Voter Registration Deadline
Postmarked by October 17.
Protecting Virginia -- The Fight for Clean Air and Water
Hear experts from Union of Concerned Scientists, Virginia Conservation Network and others describe air, water and climate problems facing Virginia and what actions the General Assembly and the Congress need to take.
Several candidates for Virginia offices will outline their positions and answer questions.
Learn more -- and register online -- by clicking here.
This event is sponsored by NOVACAN, the Northern Virginia Climate Action Network, a coalition of ten organizations representing over 25,000 people, and the Virginia Conservation Network.
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.
Save the date!
The 2011 Virginia Bluebird Society State Conference will be held Saturday, November 5 in Fredericksburg. Registration includes all programs, breakfast and lunch.
Click here to download an agenda (pdf).
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
- September 28
- October 26
- November 30
- December 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
- October 12
- November 16
- December 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.
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.
- September 30, Meadowood
- October 7, Metz Wetlands
- October 14, Occoquan Regional Park
- October 21, Occoquan Bay NWR
- October 28, Meadowood
The Nature of Meadowood
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.
Upcoming dates (Saturdays, 8:30 - 11:30 AM)
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.