September 2012
In This Issue
Field Trips
In Memoriam
Bird Migration Meeting
Talk by Martin Ogle
Advocacy Update
Native Plant Starter Kits
LEAPP Classes

Upcoming Events

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 via email or phone (703-567-3555) for more details or to reserve your space.
 General Surveys

Occoquan Bay NWR

  • Sept 26 (New Date) 
  • Oct 31 
Meadowood on Mason Neck
  • Sept 12 
  • Oct 17  

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys
Join Jim Waggener each Friday (April-October) in his ongoing survey of the butterflies and dragonflies at four locations in Fairfax and Prince William County.

Each survey is limited to four participants, and reservations are required. More information is available on the ASNV website.

Contact Jim via email or phone (703-567-3555) for more details or to reserve your space. (Note: Surveys may be cancelled for inclement weather.)

Upcoming Surveys:
  • Sept 14: Meadowood Recreational Area
  • Sept 21: Metz Wetlands
  • Sept 28: Occoquan Regional Park
  • Oct 5: Occoquan Bay NWR
  • Oct 12: Meadowood Recreational Area
  • Oct 19: Metz Wetlands
  • Oct 26: Occoquan Regional Park    

Eakin Park Bird Walk
Hidden Oaks Nature Center (FCPA) sponsors weekly bird walks along the Accotink Stream Valley. Read more.

Help make a difference!
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 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.

Research Plant Value to Wildlife. ASNV is looking 
for a Virgina master naturalist, or other interested volunteer, willing to research the wildlife value of specific native plants. 

More information about these and other opportunities can be found here.

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

Save The Date:  ASNV's Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 16th.  Look for details in this newsletter.
Message from the ASNV President

Dear Members, Partners and Friends:


Among the most visible rewards of fall - apart from the changing color of our beautiful native trees - is to catch sight of some of the migratory birds that pass through every year. If you're lucky, or maybe join one of our bird walks, or if you have attractive habitat in your own yard, you will see warblers. While a few species breed in Northern Virginia, most are on a return flight from the north. They're headed to the tropics and subtropics where insects remain abundant during our winter months. Warblers are often not easy to see as they flit among the treetops in search of food, but we have Black-throated green, Chestnut-sided, and Bay-breasted warblers looking for habitat corridors as they move through our neighborhoods and nearby parks. More information on warblers, and how we can help them, is available among ASNV's species fact sheets on our website.


If you are interested in how our birds are faring these days, another good website is the National Audubon Society's "State of the Birds" site. We are reminded up front that birds are important indicators of the overall health of our environment. "Like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, they send an urgent warning about threats to our water, air, natural resources, climate and more."


We don't notice this from year to year, but warblers and many other migratory songbirds are disappearing! Overall, we have about half as many today as 40 years ago. No wonder they are getting harder to see! In 2007, Audubon produced a report called "Common Birds in Decline" covering 40 years of bird population data from the Christmas Bird Count and the Breeding Bird Survey. According to the survey:


"Since 1967 the average population for the common birds in steepest decline has fallen 68 percent, from 17.6 million to 5.35 million. Some species have nose-dived as much as 80 percent and all 20 birds included [in the survey] have lost at least 50 percent of their population - in just four decades."


Read that again. Share it with your kids. I'm still shocked every time I see it. Much of this information is corroborated in our own Northern Virginia Bird Survey, conducted annually by ASNV since 1995. Our most recent finding with this survey is that relative abundance of birds in Northern Virginia has dropped more than 18 percent, and the percentage decline has been in double digits for all but one of the last eight years! Plan to join us for the story when we brief the public on these findings on October 21.


How long before the general public grasps the implications of these numbers? Is it any wonder that ASNV is taking action to get our neighbors to change the ethic about protecting our precious natural habitat? Foreign plants dominate our landscapes, including sterile or often toxic turf grass, along with many exotic invasive species that out-compete the precious native plants that are vital to our birds and the insects they need for food. Join us in taking the healthy yard pledge and putting a native plant in the ground! (Maybe even buy a native plant starter kit for a $35 donation). Take a look at the Audubon at Home program and consider small steps in your own backyard. We have volunteer ambassadors who can consult with you, if you like. We can't stand by while these trends continue. A lot of space close to home is available for restoring native wildflowers, shrubs and trees. The motto on our Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary sign is more relevant than ever: "Conservation Begins at Home!" 


Terry F. Liercke, President


Field Trips and Birdwalks  


New! Lyndora Park and Broadlands Wetland, Ashburn

Saturday, October 6, 7:30 AM

Come along with Bill Brown to explore some new territory. Lyndora Park has a long, wide, mowed path with tall trees and shrubbery on either side. It can be wet in places, so wear waterproof footwear. Round trip, we'll walk about a mile to a mile and a half, at birdwatching speed, of course. The wetland has a boardwalk all the way around, easy walking.

Getting there:  From Rt. 28 in Sterling, exit onto Waxpool Road toward Ashburn.  Continue on Waxpool for approximately 1.5 miles and then turn left onto Loudoun County Parkway.  Continue on the Parkway for about 2.5 miles and then turn left on Hillsboro Hunt Drive into a residential area.  Turn left on Lucketts Bridge Circle and continue to Lyndora Park.  We will meet in the parking lot near the ball fields.

When we leave Lyndora, we will caravan or carpool to the wetlands.


Sunrise Valley Wetland & Polo Fields, Reston

Sunday, October 7, 7:30-10:30 AM

Lingering Green Herons, late migrants, maybe some butterflies still in the meadows, who knows what awaits in this mix of habitats.

Getting there: From Fairfax Co. Parkway, take Sunrise Valley west. Just beyond the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, turn right into ASG Software Solutions. Park on the west side of the building.


Sky Meadows State Park

Saturday, October 13, 8:00 AM

Registration required

Red-headed Woodpeckers will be the target species here, but sparrows, raptors, late migrants all are possible. Moderate terrain; no strenuous hiking. Beginning birders welcome. Jay and Carol Hadlock will lead.  

Getting there: Go west on Rt. 50 to Rt. 17. Turn left and follow the signs to Sky Meadows State Park. There is an entrance fee. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Alternately, go west on Rt. 66 and then north on Rt. 17, to the park.

To register, call the Hadlocks at 703-437-7451. We can try to arrange carpools for those who wish.

In Memoriam
Pat Patterson

ASNV notes with sadness the passing of Pat Patterson, who served as president of our organization from 2005 to 2007. Pat was a fervent conservationist with an expansive vision, but many of us will also remember him as an engaging speaker who could entertain and move an audience with stories both humorous and poignant.  Pat's contributions to the ASNV membership included bringing notable speakers such as Phil Hooes and David Sibley to our meetings.


Pat left Northern Virginia in 2007 to return to his home state of Mississippi. He passed away due to cardiac complications on May 27 this year.   


Bird Migration, September 12 Meeting


Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and learn all about bird migration on September 12.   Alicia Frances King, Communications Coordinator for the Migratory Bird Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will explore topics like why and when birds migrate, why some birds migrate at night and others during the day, how birds navigate and how to identify stopover points. She will also address conservation issues facing birds, the four major North American Flyways and migration research.  


The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria, VA 22306. 


The Great Outdoors - The Great Context - Talk by Martin Ogle
September 24, 2012, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  

The Great Outdoors - The Great Context.  A million disconnected facts do not an education make!  Context is called for ... organizing principals that lend background, framework, and understanding to the modern flood of information.  Explore the power of context with Martin Ogle, formerly Chief Naturalist for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and ASNV Board member, now a consultant with schools and organizations in Colorado. More


Mark Obmascik to Speak at George Mason University

Mark Obmascik, author of The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, which received five Best of 2004 citations by major media, will be appearing at George Mason University's Fall For the Book Festival . The movie adaptation of The Big Year, starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, was released in October 2011 by 20th Century Fox. Obmascik was lead writer for the Denver Post team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, and winner of the 2003 National Press Club award for environmental journalism. He'll be appearing on Thursday, September 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center, Meeting Room G.  


Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count Scheduled

Our annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 16th.  Read more...

Also, come to our free CBC Workshop where you can learn about what we do during CBCs, where the data goes, how we count birds and how to brush up on your counting skills.  It's on Sunday, November 11th at 2 PM at the NWF building, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr, Reston.  Please sign up at the above contact points.


Advocacy Update
Conservation Depends On You

Elect Conservation Candidates  Along with a U.S. President,Virginia will elect a new U.S. Senator on November 6 and members of the U.S. House of Representatives. These races present an opportunity for Auduboners to educate candidates about conservation issues and elect pro-conservation legislators.

To learn who is running in your area, visit the Virginia Board of Elections here. Voters in some jurisdictions may also vote on parks or other conservation-related bonds.  


2012 Virginia Environmental Assembly. Held at the Virginia Tech Research Center, October 19-20, 2012 . This is an exclusive opportunity to network with staff and leaders of over 100 fellow conservation organizations during an evening celebrating Virginia's local conservation heroes.  All auction proceeds benefit Virginia Conservation Network's education and outreach programs. Read more...  


Help Preserve Native Trees  The Virginia Department of Forestry is asking Virginians to help preserve native trees by collecting acorns and seeds from 11 species.  Read more...  


Benefits of Urban Trees: Economic and Social  Join Trees Virginia on September 13 in Alexandria to explore some "benefits of trees" topics not routinely discussed.   Read more...  


Conservation Corridors  Conservation biologists generally maintain that large, unfragmented natural areas are more supportive of ecological health that smaller, separated parcels.   Some call this "connectivity."   With so little undeveloped land left, opportunities to create largely natural corridors are rare in Northern Virginia. 

Read more...  


The Fairfax County Park Authority is now giving people an opportunity to speak at regular Park Authority Board meetings. Read more...  


Virginians Support Protection of Natural Areas   A Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation survey (the 2011 Virginia Outdoors Demand Survey (VODS)) has two hopeful conclusions:

  • Nine out of 10 Virginians express importance of protecting natural areas and open space.
  • Nearly three out of four Virginians support public spending for conservation.

In other words, nine out of 10 Virginians believe that protecting natural areas and open spaces is important (27.6 percent) or very important (65.8 percent). Nearly three out of four (73.2 percent) support public spending to stop the loss of natural areas and open spaces, and nine out of 10 say that access to outdoor recreation is important (36.1 percent) or very important (55.6 percent).  Read more...  


Carbon Footprint  You can determine your own carbon footprint at this Nature Conservancy website. 


Make Buildings Bird Safe  New buildings seem to go up every week in northern Virginia.  An estimated 300 million to one billion birds die every year when they crash into glass on buildings. The American Bird Conservancy has a publication, Bird-Friendly Building Design, to help planners, architects, local officials and others understand how to eliminate buildings' threats to birds.  If anyone would like to work on a project to make buildings in northern Virginia more bird-safe, contact Glenda Booth .


Environmental Facts by Zip Code  On the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website, you can get environmental facts by zip code, for example, air emissions, toxic releases and impaired waters. 


Parks Funding on Fairfax County Ballot  Voters in Fairfax County will have an opportunity to vote on parks on the November 6 ballot. The Board of Supervisors has proposed  more...  



Native Plant Starter Kits
First Come, First Serve!
Audubon at Home ambassadors and clients participating in the Wildlife Sanctuary program may now order a kit, including 4 wildflowers and 1 shrub (2 kits max.) for delivery in early September.  Our project coordinator, Nippy Page, has order forms for participants.  Contact Nippy at  The kits are a way to donate to our cause -- they sell for $35 each -- and to act immediately to increase healthy habitat.  More.


LEAPP Classes

The LEAPP® (Learn, Enjoy, Appreciate, Preserve, and Protect) program offers Northern Virginians the opportunity to learn more about the natural world and be informed, active stewards for its care and protection.  Since its inception in 1999, students have found that LEAPP classes are fun and personally rewarding.  Don't miss out - register early!  Please note that registration is not complete until payment is received. (For Master Naturalists:  All workshops have been approved for Advanced Training hours.) To register, contact ASNV at 703-438-6008 or at

Ornithology 101
This course is an introductory, college-level course in Ornithology and will provide students with the tools and skills of being a birder. The course will be held 12 evenings from February to mid May and will cover: field guides and optics, the origins and evolution of birds; feathers, flight and the physiology of birds; behavior and communications;migration, navigation, and social behavior;avian life histories;population dynamics and conservation. Read more. 


Hawks: Masters of the Skies
Join local hawkwatcher Nolan Britt in a workshop (September 27 & October 4) to increase your hawk identification skills and understanding of conservation issues concerning North American raptors.  Topics covered include the history of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary,, major migration routes of hawks, flight identification, and the history of DDT in the Americas. The workshop culminates with an all-day trip to Waggoner's Gap Hawkwatch near Carlisle, PA , one of the best sites in the Eastern U.S. for hawk migration! Read more.  


Fall Wildflowers
Learn how to identify some common fall wildflowers and plant families as well as the folklore association with plants in this area. This combination class and field trip will be held at Riverbend Park on September 29. Riverbend is Fairfax County Park Authority's only riverfront park and has over 400 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds. Riverbend's location along the Potomac River makes it a naturally unique and sensitive area with spectacular fall wildflowers. Read more
Classes In Partnership with Potomac Overlook Regional Park 


Paddle Adventures with Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority
NVRPA has a few kayaking and canoe adventures remaining this fall. Read more