Here’s a pretty neat photo contest that Xerces just launched – it’s open through April 21 and what is especially cool about it is that the photos you submit will be used as part of the data to create native plant lists to help support Monarch butterflies (all all the creatures that live alongside Monarchs!)

Here’s are the details:

Eastern_Tiger_ST_Monarch_Joe_Pye_20140729-3The Xerces Society is partnering with the Monarch Joint Venture on a photo contest to gather information on important nectar plants for monarchs throughout the continental U.S.

Please help us gather information about monarchs on native nectar plants in your region!

The contest is only available to Facebook users, and it ends April 21, 2015.

More details can be found on the contest page: 

Please note that the emphasis is on native plants. If you are unsure of whether a plant is native, check using the USDA-PLANTS database,

If you have observations of monarchs using native nectar plants in your area that you would prefer to share directly, please send them to These entries will not be part of the contest.

Please include the plant species name, location, and time of year that monarchs use this plant.

All of the information we collect will be used to develop regional recommendations regarding optimal nectar plants for monarchs in all parts of their life cycle, including spring and fall migration, summer breeding, and the overwintering period.


Join The Land trust of Virginia, Goose Creek Association, and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters at this viewing of Plastic Paradise on March 6, 7pm at The Hill School, Sheila C. Johnson Performing Arts Center , 130 S. Madison Street, Middleburg.  Doors open at 6:30.RSVP to



The second webinar in the USFWS Monarch Butterfly Conservation series is online for you to watch at your leisure.

This one is on Habitat Restoration Fundamentals:


Martinis-Matter-2015_v1Save the Date:
Saturday, March 14th for Martinis Matter and The Wild Thing! A fundraising event benefiting Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
River Creek Club
Benjamin’s Tavern at River Creek Club
43800 Olympic Blvd, Leesburg
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Join us for a fun evening with over 40 fabulous raffle prizes

- Spa and salon services
- Dining gift certificates
- Golf foursomes and instruction at local private clubs
- Professional native landscaping consultations
- Gift certificates at native nurseries
- A day with a professional nature photographer
- 90 minute interior design makeover
- 1 hour flight in a private plane departing from Leesburg
- Private nature walk for five adults at Balls Bluff
- Family season pass to Great Country Farms
- Jewelry, art, and more!

Special live wildlife guests for photos or viewing: Red-tailed Hawk and Great Horned Owl

Live music by a local musician

Signature martini of the night: The Wild Thing!

All drink tickets $10

Raffle tickets:
$5 = 1 raffle ticket
$20 = 5 raffle tickets
$50 = 20 raffle tickets
$100 = 50 raffle tickets + 2 drink tickets

A Big THANK YOU to our Sponsors:




Show Birds Some Love on Valentine’s Weekend:

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count!

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which organizes this great day of citizen science:

“Give Mother Nature a valentine this year and show how much you care about birds by counting them for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The 18th annual count is taking place February 13 through 16.

Anyone in the world can count birds at any location for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track changes in bird populations on a massive scale. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.”


BRCWinterWalk1Twenty folks showed up despite the threat of warm, spring-like weather—and were treated by a chilly, mostly overcast, wintery day and enjoyed exploring the fields and woods.

With the help of Zev, Ruby, Peyton and Landon the group discovered a great variety of overwintering insect larvae: all three types of Goldenrod galls: both European and Carolina Mantid casings; Tent caterpillar egg masses, Bag worm cases containing eggs and numerous moth and butterfly larvae attached to twigs with silk threads.

winterwalk3We also examined a number of plants and trees, their structure, buds and bark. We learned how Freddie and Alice met and took a ‘lichen’ to one another, examined acorns and walnuts as well as other berries and fruits that birds and other wildlife eat during the winter.

Attila helped us learn more about the operations of the Center, farm and early inhabitants of the area along Piney Run.  We were thrilled to see a sure sign of Spring:  Skunk Cabbages in bloom.

BRCWinterWalk2Although we were not searching for birds, we did see both Turkey and Black Vultures, flickers, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Song sparrows, Juncos, Robins and Bluebirds. As we neared the end of our walk we also got a very good look at several Hermit Thrushes flitting around Wortman Pond.

We hope to have everyone back for our next family excursion.


4 boys and a girl (3 of 1)

Seventeen people showed up for last Sunday’s waterfowl tour sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

The trip started at Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park on the Potomac, where we found Canada Geese, Mallards, Bufflehead, Common and Hooded Mergansers, and at least four Common Goldeneyes.

Our next stop was Alder Lake, a small water retention pond in residential Ashburn, where the highlight of the stop for many was the chance to watch and listen to the courtship display of three male Hooded Mergansers competing for the favor of a single female. [These Hooded Mergansers are shown in the photo above taken by Sharon Moffett]

We also got good closeup looks at Mallards, Gadwall, Northern Shovelers, Ring-Necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Ducks, Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots, Great Blue Herons, and Ring-billed Gulls.

Mr Shoveler (3 of 1)[Northern Shoveler shown above. Photo by Sharon Moffett]

Our final stop was Algonkian Park, back on the Potomac, where we added American Wigeon and American Black Ducks to our day’s list, and got some good looks at Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Brown Creepers, and a Golden-crowned Kinglet  as a bonus.

Bill Brown, Herndon


With the cold, frigid weather (12 degrees when we began, 14 when we ended), only two of us showed up for the regular monthly bird walk at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve on January 10th. While there were very few birds at first, and never a lot of species, we did find numerous sparrows and other small birds along the southern & eastern edges of forest where they were sheltered from the wind and warmed by the weak winter sun. Highlights of the walk included an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW, two male Eastern Towhees, a number of Field Sparrows, and six of the seven local woodpeckers which are around here in the winter.

There were no raptors or vultures flying at Banshee Reeks but when I swung by the county landfill, which borders Banshee Reeks, after the walk there were hundreds of crows, several Ring-billed Gulls, a few vultures, three Red-shouldered Hawks, and a Common Raven.

For a complete list of the birds observed at Banshee Reeks pls see the eBird report below.

The regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature preserve is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy ( & the Friends of Banshee Reeks ( ); information on both and their upcoming events can be found on their websites.

Good birding!

Joe Coleman & Del Sargent


Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, US-VA Jan 10, 2015 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Protocol: Traveling

1.0 mile(s)

Comments:     Regular monthly bird walk at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve.

25 species

Mourning Dove  1, Red-bellied Woodpecker  1, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1, Downy Woodpecker  3, Hairy Woodpecker  2, Northern Flicker  1, Pileated Woodpecker  2, Blue Jay  6, American Crow  6, Fish Crow  75, Carolina Chickadee  5, Tufted Titmouse  5, White-breasted Nuthatch  2, Brown Creeper  1, Carolina Wren  2, Northern Mockingbird  5, Eastern Towhee  2, American Tree Sparrow  1, Field Sparrow  8, Song Sparrow  35, Swamp Sparrow  1, White-throated Sparrow  12, Dark-eyed Junco  20, Northern Cardinal  6, American Goldfinch  3

View this checklist online at



Sharing an upcoming event from the Loudoun Master Gardeners:

Free Garden Lecture – 180 Miles of Trees: The Living Legacy Tree Project

The 2015 Master Gardener Lecture series kicks off the year with Peter Hart, certified tree arborist, speaking about the Journey through Hallowed Ground Living Legacy Tree Planting Project — an ambitious initiative to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War by planting one tree for each of the 620,000 soldiers who died in the war. Peter Hart is a volunteer with the program and is involved in the selection and planting of trees which eventually will create an allee of 180 miles , stretching north to south and over three states.
The free lecture will be held at 7pm on Thursday, January 8th at the Loudoun Extension office (Wells Fargo Bank Building), 30 Catoctin Circle SE, Suite B, Leesburg, VA.

For more information about the lecture or the Loudoun County VCE Master Gardener program visit the website: or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments.



Five-week course in sustainable gardening

Learn how even one home garden can begin to repair the web of life.

Landscape for Life is a sustainable gardening course designed by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and the US Botanic Garden.

It teaches us how we can transform our home landscapes and public places into healthy refuges that benefit not only birds, pollinators, and other wildlife, but also the surrounding community and the Chesapeake Bay.

Dates: Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
January 6 through February 3, 2015
Location: Morven Park
Cost: $50


Next Page »