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August 2018

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In This Newsletter

  • President's Corner
  • Year of the Bird: Cut Out the Plastics
  • Upcoming Classes
  • Call for Volunteers
  • ASNV Comments on Fairfax County Domestic Cat Policies
  • Take Action
  • Help Save the Endangered Species Act
  • Bald Eagles: Down in the Dumps?
  • Bird Walks
  • Recurring Bird Walks
  • Other News

Conservation Counts

 
Join Jim Waggener in his ongoing natural resource 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. From April through October, surveys are conducted primarily for butterflies and dragonflies at those two locations and two others—Occoquan Regional Park and Julie J. Metz Memorial Wetlands Preserve.

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

Contact Jim for more details or to reserve your space.


Meadowood on Mason Neck 

(7:30 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • Aug 15
  • Sept 12

Occoquan Bay NWR 

(7:30 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • Aug 29
  • Sept 26

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys 

(8:30 AM - 12:30 PM)
  • Aug 3 - Occoquan Bay NWR
  • Aug 10 - Meadowood
  • Aug 17 - Metz Wetlands
  • Aug 24 - Occoquan Regional Park
  • Aug 31 - Occoquan Bay NWR
  • Sept 7 - Meadowood
  • Sept 14 - Metz Wetlands
  • Sept 21 - Occoquan Regional Park
  • Sept 28 - Occoquan Bay NWR    


Make a Difference!  
Speak Up!

 

E-Activist Network 
Volunteers Needed

 
The National Audubon Society invites all Auduboners to join its e-activist network. When you subscribe to the Society’s 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 persuade elected officials to support actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you would like to help make a difference with climate change and other important issues, please contact  Glenda Booth.
 

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 the ASNV office.

President's Corner

 
I recently enjoyed the honor and privilege of being elected president of ASNV’s board of directors.  I will do my best to carry on the tradition of sound and thoughtful leadership that Carl Kikuchi instituted during his four years as president.  During my term I would like to emphasize both the national and cultural importance of environmental stewardship and the personal rewards that come from immersing ourselves in the natural world.

ASNV’s mission is “to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity.”  ASNV implements that mission principally by:
  • Surveying birds and other wildlife to determine species diversity and population trends;
  • Advocating for the environment on a state and local basis and working for the creation of wildlife-friendly habitat; and
  • Educating through classes, field trips, bird walks, and presentations. 
Of course, an important part of the whole process is taking time as individuals to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful diversity and beauty with which nature surrounds us.  Despite the many challenges facing wildlife and its habitat, we still should find moments to enjoy our natural heritage, to wander off into woods and fields and have fun.

ASNV is fortunate to have a skilled and dedicated board of directors and staff to help guide the organization and implement its programs.  Our four newest directors—Gerry Abbott, Roger Di Silvestro, Connie Erickson, and Doug Everhart—are already supporting ASNV’s website and newsletter outreach, adult education, and advocacy, among other critical activities.  But we need more volunteer help if ASNV is going to realize its full potential.  Over the next few months we’ll be working to improve our outreach to tap the wide variety of skills and interests of our members. 

Be sure to put our next Audubon Afternoon on your calendar.  Beginning at 2:30 p.m. on September 30, four live owls—Great Horned, Barred, Barn, and Screech Owls—will pose for photos and close-up views as wildlife rehabilitators from Secret Garden Birds and Bees tell us about the lives these species lead in the woods and fields of Virginia.  The program takes place at the National Wildlife Federation building, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive in Reston.  Everyone is welcome.  Bring the children!  You can read more about it at Audubon Afternoons.

Tom Blackburn
     

Year of the Bird:
Cut Out the Plastics


Plastics are an increasing threat to our environment.  Birds are jeopardized too:  an estimated 1 million sea birds die each year from ingesting plastic.  In our throw-away culture, millions of plastic bottles and bags are simply tossed away yearly, without any thought to their environmental impacts.  Long-time ASNV member Betsy Martin has been organizing trash cleanups along Little Hunting Creek, near Mount Vernon, for 16 years.  You can read an article about the problem and Betsy’s attempts to address it here: And the National Audubon Society had this to say about plastics in a recent news article:
This month’s theme for our Year of the Bird partnership with National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and BirdLife International is “Cut Out the Plastics.”  The call to action is say no to plastic bags, straws, and water bottles, and commit to recycling your household plastics.  Remember to use the hashtags #YearOfTheBird and #BirdYourWorld. Also here are eight tips on how people can reduce plastic waste and protect birds.
If we each do what we can to reduce the use of plastic and to clean up plastic waste before it degrades our world, we can make a real difference in the quality of our lives and in the protection of our wildlife.  Take a bag with you when you bird, hike, or paddle our rivers; fill it with trash.  You’ll be doing the world a good deed.

Upcoming Classes

 

Identifying Shorebirds Workshop
Aug 16, 2018


Join Marc Ribaudo for an evening class, Identifying Shorebirds, and an accompanying field trip.  The class is recommended for birders who would like to tackle shorebird identification on their own.  Sign up soon, as the class is filling rapidly—only two seats remain open.

Kim Hull/Audubon Photography AwardsWe will spend an evening in the classroom covering identification tips for shorebirds typically seen in our region.  Emphasis will be on shorebirds that pose the biggest identification challenges, such as peeps.
 
On the Saturday following the class we will visit Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware to put into practice what we learned in class.  Bombay Hook is one of the top shorebird spots in the Northeast and provides ample opportunities to view many shorebird species in close proximity to each other.  We may also visit Port Mahon or Taylor’s Ditch, depending on time and what is being reported there that week.

Bring sunscreen and insect repellent, since Bombay Hook is pretty buggy.  Be prepared for mosquitoes and green-head (biting) flies.  Also, bring a picnic lunch, as lunch opportunities are limited in the area. 

A recommended book for this class is The Shorebird Guide by Michael O’Brien, Richard Crossley,Marc Ribaudo and Kevin Karlson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006).  Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley (Knopf, 2014) is also a good basic field guide.                                                                                                                                                                        
About the Instructor:  Marc Ribaudo (right) has been birding since he was a teenager in New Jersey in the 1960s.  He has a lot of field experience and is a regular trip leader for the Northern Virginia Bird Club and the Friends of Dyke Marsh.                                                                                                            

Learn about Magnificent Monarchs
Sept 22, 2018


Monarchs and their amazing migration to Mexico are in peril for many reasons.  Learn about the mysterious monarch life cycle and migration at an ASNV class September 22, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at the National Wildlife Federation Building in Reston at 11100 Wildlife Center Drive.  Also learn how you can attract them to your home garden or favorite public space and how to raise them to send them on their fall journey.  Resources for milkweed and garden design also included.  The class will be taught by Georgina Chin, an instructor with Monarch Teacher Network.  For more details on signing up, check out the ASNV website.  
 

A Class for Beginning Birders


Are you new to the world of birding?  Not sure if the bird in your binoculars is a warbler or a sparrow?  Then we have a class for you:  Beginning Birding Workshop, September 27, with ASVN board member and photographer Dixie Sommers.  Focus your binoculars on the ASNV website for more information in the next week or so.  The class is designed for adults and includes two field trips, one on September 29 and one on October 6. 
 

Call for Volunteers


ASNV could really use your help with its Membership Committee—generating welcome letters to new members, publicizing volunteer opportunities, helping to engage new members, organizing volunteer rosters.  Familiarity with word processing software would be helpful but isn’t required—most important is a desire to help your Chapter!  Contact us at info@audubonva.org.


ASNV Comments on Fairfax County Domestic Cat Policies

 

 Members of ASNV met last April with representatives of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter Advisory Board to discuss concerns about the impact of free-roaming cats on birds and other wildlife and about the shelter’s Trap, Neuter, and Return program.  At the conclusion of the meeting, animal shelter officials invited ASNV to comment and offer suggestions on how the subject is covered on the shelter’s new website.
 
ASNV submitted comments urging the use on the website of more scientifically based information, including such statistics as:
  • Free-roaming, unowned, and “community cats” have contributed to or caused the extinction of 63 species of bird, mammal, and reptile worldwide.   
  • In the United States each year, cats kill 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion other native animals such as chipmunks and squirrels. 
  • In North America, cats are second only to habitat loss as the largest human-related cause of bird death.
The ASNV members added that in the best interests of cats, birds, and other wildlife, the animal shelter should add a section to the website titled, “Cats Safe Indoors,” to educate visitors about the many benefits of keeping cats indoors and the risks posed to birds, other wildlife, and cats themselves by allowing cats to roam free.  The group also wrote that the website would be strengthened by including local, state, and federal laws regarding the release of unwanted pets. 

You can see the entire response here.
 

Take Action

 

Help Save the U.S. Endangered Species Act

 

A Key Wildlife Law Faces Damaging Change

The Trump administration is seeking to change the Endangered Species Act in ways that will diminish 45 years of protections for jeopardized species and remove habitat protections that keep roads, pipelines, oil wells, and other development out of diminishing wildlife habitat.  The administration says it is streamlining the law, but in fact it is threatening to turn the nation into a corporate-driven endangered-species factory.   
            

The Endangered Species Act: A Success

The federal Endangered Species Act has provided essential protection for vanishing species and their habitat, saving 99 percent of listed species from extinction.  Here in Virginia—home to four bird species now protected under the act:  the Piping Plover, Roseate Tern, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and Kirtland’s Warbler—we can witness this effectiveness in our own skies. Any birder who lived in Northern Virginia in the early 1980s, as the Endangered Species Act completed its first decade, can recall the rarity then of spotting a Bald Eagle in this area.  An eagle sighting over the Potomac was significant enough that the Washington Post might report on it.  Today, the Bald Eagle nests along waterways throughout Northern Virginia, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials removed it from the Endangered and Threatened Species List in 2007.  Once nearly wiped out in the lower 48 states, this raptor stands out as testimony to the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act, backed by federal eagle protection laws, migratory bird laws, and certain federal pesticide bans.

Piping Plover -- Melissa Groo/Audubon Photography Awards                                                      Piping Plover -- Melissa Groo/Audubon Photography Awards
 

Fight Back for the Endangered Species Act

Please contact your representative in the House (www.house.gov) and your senators (www.senate.gov) to express your views about ensuring that the federal Endangered Species Act continues to protect our natural heritage for generations to come.  For more information on contacting elected officials, go here.  Also send comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which are giving the public until September 24th to comment. You can send comments by going here.  Remind them that the law has helped to restore a wide range of species, from whooping cranes to wolves; that it protects habitat, which in turn creates a safer world for human residents; and that it has served as a model for conservation throughout the world.  For more information, visit the National Audubon Society website
 

Elect Conservation-minded Officials


On November 6, Virginians will elect 11 members to the U.S. House of Representatives and one to the U.S. Senate.  Campaigns provide advocates with opportunities to learn candidate views and proposals and with chances to influence candidate perspectives on important issues.  To vote on November 6, you must register by October 15.  For more information, visit https://www.elections.virginia.gov/voter-outreach/upcoming-elections.html.
 

Virginia Environmental Assembly


Virginia conservation leaders will gather on September 7 and 8 in Williamsburg at the College of William and Mary for the annual Environmental Assembly, an opportunity to learn about key issues and strategize with allies on how to address environmental threats.  The assembly is hosted by the Virginia Conservation Network, of which ASNV is a member.  For more info, email admin@vcnva.org or call 804-644-0283.  Note to advocates:  To reduce your carbon footprint, take the train to Williamsburg. 
   

Bald Eagles: Down in the Dumps?

 

Our Waste Sites May Be a Threat to Birds
Even if you have not visited the Prince William County landfill, you may have heard that it is a magnet for Bald Eagles, among other birds, including clouds of gulls.  You can stand at a random spot and count more than 20 adult eagles at a time.  Bit of a shame, really, that we have pulled Bald Eagles back from the brink of extinction, thanks largely to federal protective laws, only to have then turn into connoisseurs of rubbish.  But nature finds sustenance where it can.

Image of Bald Eagle Antonio Busiello/Audubon Photography Awards
Image of Bald Eagle Antonio Busiello/Audubon Photography Awards

 

Birds in Jeopardy
Unfortunately, the eagle’s adaptability to available food sources may bring harmful effects.  Researchers at Argentina’s National University of Comahue, after examining blood samples from 48 adult Black Vultures that foraged in a Patagonian garbage dump, found that the birds were not only heavier than conspecifics that fed only in the wild but also had:
  • higher levels of uric acid from eating too much protein,
  • excessive levels of blood sugar from eating sweets and cereals,
  • an increased likelihood of developing kidney and other diseases because of the diet heavy on protein and carbohydrates, and
  • higher levels of immune proteins thanks to the high density of pathogens encountered in the dumps.
The findings are a warning that other birds scavenging on rubbish, including California Condors and our own Bald Eagles, also could be at risk.
 

Bird Walks

 

Great Falls National Park, Great Falls, VA
Sunday, August 5 - 8:00 to 11:00 AM
Fee is $10 per car; $5 for persons on foot, bicycle, or being dropped off.
Or use a National Park Pass


Why not join the weekly Sunday walk at Great Falls?  The trail is mostly through wooded areas and great for woodpeckers.  Plus there are the river overlooks. Sponsored by the park.

Getting there:  From I-495, take exit 44 for route 193 west; continue 4 miles.  Turn right on Old Dominion Drive.  9200 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, VA 22102.  Meet in front of snack/concession stand at the Park Visitor Center.
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Twin Branches Trail, Reston, VA
Sunday, August 12 - 7:30 to 10:30 AM


Enjoy another of Reston’s wooded areas for an early morning walk that should find fledglings of breeding birds in abundance.  Sponsored by the Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston.

Getting there: From I-66 west, to exit 60 to go north on Route 123.  Turn left on Hunters Mill Road/ Route 674.  Turn left on Lawyers Road, Route 673.  Turn right on Twin Branches Road.  Park along Glade Drive near the intersection with Twin Branches.  Meet at the corner.
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Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA
Sunday, August 19 - 8:00 to 11:00 AM
Fee:   $2.50 for seniors; $5.00 for others


Come look for the birds that use the woods, fields, and ponds of the gardens for summer residence or for a refueling point on early fall migration.  Meet leader Colt Gregory in the Visitor Center.  Usual Garden fees apply.  Sponsored by ASNV and Meadowlark.

Getting there: The gardens are located off of Beulah Road, between Route 7 and Route 123, south of the Dulles Access Road.  From the Beltway, take Route 7 toward Tysons Corner.  Drive 4.5 miles west on Route 7, turn left onto Beulah Road and drive 2.5 miles to the gardens entrance on the right.
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Dyke Marsh, Alexandria, VA
Wednesday, September 12 - 8:30 to 11:30 AM


Join leader Tom Nardone on this mid-week walk past the Marina and along the woodland trail to the Boardwalk.  Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there:  From Alexandria, take GW Parkway south.  Cross I-495; continue 1.2 miles to Belle Haven Park entrance on the left.  Meet at the south parking lot. 6401 George Washington Memorial Parkway, Alexandria, VA 22307.
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Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, VA
Friday, September 14 - 8:00 to 10:00 AM
To register call the park at 703-759-9018
Friday walks meet at the Visitor’s Center


Riverbend Park is holding a series of walks this month. To register, call Riverbend Park at 703-759-9018.  Friday walks meet at the park Visitors' Center, while Saturday walks meet at the Nature Center (rain or shine).  The routes will vary with each walk, with gentle uphill and downhill stretches on slightly uneven terrain.  Participants should be prepared to walk about 2 miles in comfortable, closed-toed shoes.  Please bring your own binoculars if you have them.  

Getting there: Take Georgetown Pike (Route 193) to Riverbend Road (Route 603).  In 2 miles turn right on Jeffery Road and go 0.8 miles to park entrance sign on right.  Turn right and continue 0.5 miles to Visitor Center parking.  8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls, VA 22066. 
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Stratton Woods Park, Reston, VA
Sunday, September 16 - 7:30 to 10:30 AM
 

Can we spot fall migrants as we walk the park’s terrain?  Sponsored by the Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston. 

Getting there: From westbound Dulles Access Road, go south on the Fairfax County Parkway.  From the Parkway, go west on Fox Mill Rd and take the first right turn into the parking lot and park by the ball fields.  2431 Fox Mill Road.
 
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Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, VA
Saturday, September 22 - 8:00 to 10:00 AM
To register call the park at 703-759-9018
Saturday walks meet at the Nature Center


Sponsored by the Park.  See information under the 9/14 listing
 
Getting there: Take Georgetown Pike (Route 193) to Riverbend Road (Route 603).  In 2 miles turn right on Jeffery Road and go 1.5 miles to Nature Center parking area (Don’t turn right at Main Park entrance sign).
 
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Huntley Meadows Hike & Bike Trail, Alexandria, VA
Wednesday, September 26 - 8:30 to 11:30 AM


The Northern Virginia Bird Club sponsors this Wednesday walk.  Meet leaders Dixie Sommers and Larry Cartwright on the west (South Kings Highway) side to walk the paved trail through woods and fields to the marsh area. 

Getting there: From I-495 eastbound, take the exit to go South on Van Dorn Street.  At the end of the road, turn left on Telegraph Road and then immediately right onto Kings Highway.  Parking is on the right.  Alternately, from Arlington, take Route 1 south 0.5 miles to South Kings Highway.  Turn right (west) and go 2.5 miles to park entrance and lot on the left, just before Telegraph Road.
 
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Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, VA
Friday, September 28 - 8:00 to 10:00 AM
To register call the park at 703-759-9018
Friday walks meet at the Visitor’s Center


Sponsored by the Park.  See information under the 9/14 listing

Getting there: Take Georgetown Pike (Route 193) to Riverbend Road (Route 603).  In 2 miles turn right on Jeffery Road and go 0.8 miles to park entrance sign on right.  Turn right and continue 0.5 miles to Visitor Center parking.  8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls, VA 22066. 
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Theodore Roosevelt Island, DC (but reached from VA side of Potomac)
Sunday, September 30 - 8:00 to 11:00 AM


Meet leader Kris Lansing at the bridge entrance to the Island, just off the main parking lot.  The island has footpaths and boardwalk through wooded and marsh terrain.  Sponsored by ASNV.

Getting there: Theodore Roosevelt Island sits in the Potomac River near the Key Bridge.  The only way to reach the island by land is from the Virginia side of the river, although the island is actually part of Washington, DC.  Drivers can only reach Theodore Roosevelt Island from the northbound lanes of the George 

Recurring Bird Walks


Several parks in the area have established year-round weekly bird walks. These walks are not run by ASNV, but may be of interest to ASNV members. They can be found here.                          

Other News

Bird Feeder in Reston

This store offers a 10% discount to current ASNV members, good on all purchases excluding optics and sale merchandise. When you visit, just tell them you are a member of ASNV and ask for the discount. 
1675 Reston Pkwy, Ste J, Reston, VA 20194. (703) 437-3335 
 

An App to Help You ID DragonfliesImage of Dragonfly by Dixie Sommers

If you are looking for a convenient tool for identifying dragonfly species, go to your app store and check out Dragonfly ID.  It will allow you to choose among dragonflies from across the continent or from those in your local area, and the free app gives you the means to identify the insects by size, color, habitat, and other simple characteristics. Hundreds of species are show in color photos accompanied by specific biological information.                                                                            
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