|On April 26 Loudoun County’s Planning Commission voted, 6 to 2, to recommend a 160,000-square-foot, 35-foot-high building on the ridge of Short Hill Mountain in Western Loudoun. This was done with little public notice or input and it is going before the Board of Supervisors tonight, May 19, at 6:30 p.m.Many people are rallying against this outrageous proposal for a lot of different reasons. The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is opposed to it due to the impact it will have on what is probably Loudoun County’s richest area biologically because of the extensive and diverse wildlife habitats that exist there. Short Hill Mountain serves as the eastern border of the Between the Hills Valley while the Blue Ridge Mountains is its western border. The valley and the ridges that border it are heavily forested, offering unique and connected habitat that is becoming more and more rare in Loudoun County. It has farm fields and some of the cleanest streams in all of Loudoun County. Harpers Ferry National Park borders it on the north and northwest where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet and all of those factors combine to make this valley rich with wildlife. Short Hill Mountain is not only a major migration route for birds of prey in the fall, large numbers of other birds such as the Cerulean Warbler also migrate along the ridge in both the spring and fall. A state threatened turtle, the Wood Turtle, lives in the valley while amphibians that have disappeared in other parts of the county, are still plentiful in the many healthy vernal pools which can be find in the valley. Many species of birds that live and nest in the valley have seen their numbers plummet elsewhere but are, for now, still holding out in this area. As shown by our annual butterfly count, more species of butterflies thrive here than anywhere else in the county.There will probably be backup emergency generators at this facility which will need to be tested on a regular basis. Noise pollution in the valley is likely to be more extensive than it would be in an open space and because this building is to be built on the ridge, it will echo up and down the valley and beyond.
This facility makes no sense in such a wonderful place. Furthermore, we are outraged that something with as negative impact as this facility will have is being slipped through the planning process without giving the public any real opportunity to study it especially since there is no need for it to be rushed. To protect this area we are asking the Board of Supervisors to deny this application outright.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
Below is an Action Alert from the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition on the issue, including a memo from LCPCC Chair Al Van Huyck to the Board of Supervisors. You can also read the memo and see the image referred to here.
Thu 19 May 2016
Thu 19 May 2016
Today, Thursday, May 19, is the Dulles Greenway’s 11th annual Drive for Charity, which means all the tolls collected today will go to six Loudoun County charities and the Dulles Greenway Scholarship program. Last year, the Greenway donated almost $300,000 to local charities.
Your trip today will help these six non-profits:
- Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
- March of Dimes (National Capital Area)
- Every Citizen Has Opportunities (ECHO)
- Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS)
- Fresh Air / Full Care
- Loudoun Free Clinic
The scholarship program helps seniors from the county’s public high schools.
Take the Greenway today and make a difference!
Wed 18 May 2016
Mark your calendars for May 26 to attend a webinar about the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership and strategies to help preserve Monarch butterflies.
Biologists, habitat conservation experts and landscape scientists have been meeting for more than two years to develop science-based strategies to save Monarchs. The success of conservation efforts will need to involve government and non-government bodies as well as the help of citizens throughout North America.
Speakers at the seminar will present a summary of the Partnership’s work, including priorities for habitat protection and restoration, targets for monarch population to minimize risks of extinction, and identification of the most important risks to the Monarch population.
Dr. Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab, Ryan Drum from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wayne Thogmartin of the U.S. Geological Service will speak at the webinar, which is a collaboration between the Monarch Joint Venture and the National Conservation Training Center.
You will need to register for the 2 p.m. webinar.
Another effort to help Monarchs comes from the Monarch Joint Venture partner Naturedigger, which has developed an app, Monarch SOS.
Currently Monarch SOS helps users identify Monarchs and similar varieties of butterflies as well as different milkweeds and insects found in Milkweed habitat. Eventually, Monarch SOS will allow users to record data and send it to participating programs such as Journey North and Monarch Watch.
Thu 12 May 2016
Are you an organized self-starter, able to work both independently and as part of a team? If the answer’s yes, and you would like to work for a nonprofit with a vision of people and wildlife living in harmony, we might have the job for you!
Loudoun Wildlife is looking for an office management specialist to help our operations run smoothly. For more information, please see the position description.
Tue 10 May 2016
While the walk at northwestern Loudoun County’s Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship this past Saturday began with cool temperatures (48) and drizzle, it quickly turned into a great morning of birding with 87 species.
Several species were found by Gerry Hawkins and the others who arrived early around the pond near the Education Center and then we all traveled to the southern part of the center, entering at Arnold Road and then taking the Sweet Run Loop, Butterfly Alley, and Old Bridge Trails, finally wrapping up around noon.
Highlights were 19 warbler species (including Cerulean, Blue-winged, Tennessee, Prothonotary, Hooded) , four vireo species, a White-crowned Sparrow, nice looks at both Swainson’s Thrush and Veery – see Hawkins’ photograph – and glances of a couple more catharus species that disappeared too quickly to identify, and great looks at Scarlet Tanagers. When we returned to our cars at Arnold Road we found in the meadows there not only more Eastern Meadowlarks, the Red-headed Woodpecker, a Grasshopper Sparrow, and another Blue-winged Warbler, but a kestrel and an Osprey as well. We also found some nice wildflowers, including a showy orchis. It was a great day of birding!
We also had some interesting misses including Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Kentucky Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush.
This was one of Loudoun Wildlife’s Celebrating Birds walks, which began on May 1, included a program on warbler ID on May 3 and a Birdathon to raise funds for Loudoun Wildlife. Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at www.blueridgecenter.org/. Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s many free programs and field trips can be found at www.loudounwildlife.org.
Mon 25 Apr 2016
Ten people showed up on Saturday for the regular (every 4th Saturday except December) bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center. While we began the walk with umbrellas, the rain quickly dropped off to a light drizzle, and then quit altogether. The walk was led by Joe Coleman and Del Sargent, ably assisted by Laura McGranaghan, Nicole Hamilton, and Elliott & Nancy Kirschbaum as well several other good birders.
Our first few minutes were spent birding around the main parking lot and the close-by pond but we then drove over to Arnold Road where we spent the next two and a half hours in the woods except for a short walk along the power cut. Our most exciting sightings were two very vocal males and one female Cerulean Warbler in an area where they have nested for several years. While driving down Arnold Road we first heard, and then saw, perched on the fence right next to the road, a Grasshopper Sparrow; two Eastern Meadowlarks were also singing in the fields along Arnold Road. Though all of us saw them, as is often the case with Cerulean Warblers, the looks weren’t great because they were high in the canopy. Our other highlights included a vocal White-eyed Vireo at the pond, a vocal Yellow-throated Vireo, a Wood Thrush, and several Ovenbirds along the Sweet Run Loop as well as two singing Scarlet Tanagers. We also found and watched for several minutes a Rose-breasted Grosbeak in a location where one has been observed several years in the spring.
For a complete list of the birds see the eBird list below.
Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at http://www.blueridgecenter.org
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, Loudoun, Virginia, US Apr 23, 2016 8:00 AM – 11:15 AM
1.5 mile(s) walking, three miles driving
Comments: FOS & other Highlights: White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Cerulean Warbler, Grasshopper Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Eastern Meadowlark.
49 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose 2
Black Vulture 4
Turkey Vulture 2
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 1
Mourning Dove 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Downy Woodpecker 5
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Eastern Phoebe 2
White-eyed Vireo 1
Yellow-throated Vireo 1
Blue Jay 15
American Crow 15
Tree Swallow 6
Barn Swallow 5
Carolina Chickadee 12
Tufted Titmouse 8
White-breasted Nuthatch 4
Carolina Wren 4
wren sp. 1 brief glimpse of a small brown wren; not seen well enough to determine whether House or Winter
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 12
Eastern Bluebird 6
Wood Thrush 1
Brown Thrasher 6
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 10
Louisiana Waterthrush 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Cerulean Warbler 3
Northern Parula 1
Grasshopper Sparrow 2
Chipping Sparrow 8
Field Sparrow 3
White-throated Sparrow 8
Song Sparrow 6
Eastern Towhee 2
Scarlet Tanager 2
Northern Cardinal 12
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Eastern Meadowlark 2
Common Grackle 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 20 One of the the most common birds on the walk
American Goldfinch 25
House Sparrow 1
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/
Mon 25 Apr 2016
This is peak Spring bird migration season and millions of birds are coming to or passing through our area on their way north!
You can help celebrate the season and International Migratory Bird Day, which is May 14, by taking part in Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Birdathon. It’s easy! Form a team with friends and/or family to see how many species you see in a 24-hour period between May 1 and May 15. Supporters can sponsor you with a set amount or per species and can do that on our website here. You can read more about the event here. There will be prizes for participants in the Birdathon, which is a major fundraiser for Loudoun Wildlife.
As part of the celebration, Loudoun Wildlife will present a special program May 3 on warblers that breed in or migrate through Maryland and Virginia. There will also be a number of special walks the county. We invite you to join us!
You might even see a Grasshopper Sparrow like the one in the photograph, taken by Diane Nastase.
Morven Park Nature Walk — Sunday, May 1, 8:00 a.m. This walk will be led by Nicole Hamilton & Dori Rhodes. Not only is Morven Park the place that Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy calls home, its 1,000 acres include the Ridge Loop trail, a lowland trail aptly named the Wood Thrush trail, and lots of fields and meadows. In spring wonderful neo-tropical birds are heard and seen: Scarlet Tanagers, warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, kinglets, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, Wild Turkeys, chickadees, nuthatches and other woodland and grassland species. Meet at the Coach House parking lot. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identifying and Learning About the Warblers of the Mid-Atlantic Region —Tuesday, May 3, 7:00 p.m. Winmill Carriage Museum, Morven Park. Michael Bowen, Linda Friedland, and Jim Nelson, all past presidents of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, will cover nearly every warbler species that breeds in or migrates through Maryland and Virginia. Identification pointers and songs of birds in spring are emphasized. This Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy presentation uses high-resolution photos taken by some of North America’s finest nature photographers and song tracks from the Stokes Bird Song series. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact email@example.com.
Birding at Bles Park — Friday, May 6, 8:00 a.m. This walk will be led by Bill Brown and Jay Hadlock. Located in Ashburn along the Potomac River, Bles Park includes 94-acres of passive park land with walking, birding and hiking trails. Trails run along fields, wetlands and a stream, which offer a nice diversity of species. Bles is a great place to see a variety of migratory song birds as well as the summer warblers that nest here. Meet in the parking lot. Directions can be found here. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship — Saturday, May 7, 8:00 a.m. Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES). This walk will be led by Joe Coleman and Gerry Hawkins. The center’s 895 acres has vernal pools, meadows, ponds, streams and a rich oak-hickory forest. Located in northwestern Loudoun County, the center not only borders the Appalachian Trail, it is only a couple of miles from the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and serves as a wonderful sanctuary for Loudoun’s wildlife. The group will meet in the parking lot between Mountain View Farm & the Education Center. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact email@example.com.
Beagle Club/Institute Farm — Wednesday, May 11, 8 a.m. This walk will be led by Emily Southgate and Linda Millington. We have special permission to visit the Institute Farm, the home of the National Beagle Club of North America, and on the National Register of Historic Places. The farm’s brushy, scrubby intermediate habitat, bordered by mature forests, is home to many thicket-loving bird species. This group will also visit a nearby large farm, which includes a large pond and extensive fields. 22265 Oatlands Road, Aldie, VA. Parking in the field. Maximum: 15 people. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp Highroad — Friday, May 13, 8:00 a.m. This walk will be led by Christine Perdue and Linda Millington. Southwestern Loudoun includes many large farms that include both extensive fields and rich woodlands through which Goose Creek and its many tributaries flow. In the spring it is home to a number of nesting birds as well as many migrants. Camp Highroad is located at 1164 Steptoe Hill Rd, Middleburg. Meet at the main office. Space is limited to 15 people. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact email@example.com.
Birding Banshee — Saturday, May 14, 8:00 a.m. This walk will be led by Jane Yocom and Dori Rhodes. Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve was established as a nature preserve in 1999. Its 725 acres include a variety of nature trails that are great for birding. In addition to a mile of Goose Creek frontage, Banshee has a great diversity of habitats ranging from wetlands and ponds to mixed hardwood forests of oak and hickory to wonderful meadows laden with milkweed, goldenrod and thistle. Questions: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Birdiest Time of the Year: Meet Your Birds! — Saturday, May 14, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m., Algonkian Regional Park. Join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and local birders Bill & Della Brown for this special International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) event just for kids and their parents. We’ll make it easy for you! We’ll point out the birds as you enjoy a morning stroll along the Potomac River. See and hear the birds that travel through our area during this special time of spring migration. Space is limited to 15 children, ages 5+, with accompanying adult(s); please register early. No strollers or pets. Scout groups are welcome. 47000 Fairway Dr, Sterling. Meet at the boat ramp parking lot. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact email@example.com.
Tue 19 Apr 2016
The last of the winter stalks are gone and your garden beds look lovely with tender green shoots coming up. But wait, something needs to go in the far corner, doesn’t it? There’s a gap by the pond too that some kind of shrub would fill perfectly. But what? Not to worry – our Spring Native Plant Sale is this Saturday, April 23, at Morven Park!
You will be able to browse and buy lots of Spring blooming flowers, shrubs, trees, vines and ferns and get some good advice too. There will also be Bluebird houses, Monarch rearing cages and other material, as well as books and even garden art.
The sale will be in the main parking lot at Morven Park, 17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bring your friends and neighbors and grab a bite to eat too - the Good Grubbin’ food truck will be there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., selling freshly made fajitas!
Mon 4 Apr 2016
Yes, it’s true! People in Virginia are starting to see the beautiful Ruby-throated hummingbirds at their feeders.
You can track them as they make their way north on the map here and report your own sightings. So clean your feeders and get ready to put out the nectar – one part sugar to four parts water.
Mon 4 Apr 2016
A five-year statewide effort is under way to document the bird species that breed in Virginia. The project is the 2nd Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VBBA2), the first such survey since the first VBBA was completed 25 years ago, and you can help.
The data collected will help document species distribution. This is important so it is known how factors such as climate change and development are affecting bird communities and that in turn will affect natural resource and conservation decisions.
The project involves the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Society of Ornithology, bird clubs, Master Naturalist chapters and, as a citizen science project, will need lots of volunteers to help collect data over the next five years. The project divides the area into 12 regions. Each region is broken into blocks, each of which is surveyed.
If you volunteered to help count for the 2009-2014 Loudoun County Bird Atlas, here’s your chance to get out again as the breeding season gets going. If you did not take part then but enjoy watching birds, here’s a chance to contribute to this very important effort. You can team up with friends to count, including the species that show up at your feeder.
If you’d like to find out what kind of information is gathered, check out the Loudoun County Bird Atlas summary and species lists at loudounwildlife.org/Bird_Atlas.htm.
For more information about the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas and how to get involved, visit the website here. You can also follow the progress on Facebook – just search for the 2nd Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas page.