Archive for June, 2008

This book, published by the Virginia Native Plant Society, is a fantastic collection of about 200 short articles on the wildlife and wild habitats of Virginia. Each article is about 2 pages long, making it a great book to pick up and put down while gaining a feast of information.  The articles are written in a very conversational style, as if you were sitting down with a friend.

Because John Trott was a local resident, the information in this book really hits home as we learn about the animals and plants, their behaviors and their lives, right here in Loudoun.  The articles were originally printed under the column “All Things Wild and Wonderful” in the Loudoun Times Mirror, Fauquier Times-Democrat and Clark Times-Courier.

We selected this book for our summer book club meeting.  Read any articles that interest you and then join us for a short discussion of the interesting facts and insights we each picked up. 

With so much great information, local to our area, this book is definitely a must for any Virginia naturalist’s collection.

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We had a great day of hunting dragons and damsels across the fine Loudoun countryside! Seven people joined us as Andy Rabin and Kevin Munroe, both real experts in dragonflies and damselflies, took us out into the field.

We started the day at 10am at Bles Park then went to Claude Moore at noon and ended the day at Kephart Bridge Landing.

In total, we had 29 species!

Dragonflies: Common Green Darner, Swamp Darner, Unicorn Clubtail, Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Prince Basketail, Umber Shadowdragon, Calico Pennant, Halloween Pennant, Common Pondhawk,Spangled Skimmer, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Spot-winger Glider, Eastern Amberwing, Autumn Meadowhawk, Black Saddlebags

Damselflies: American Rubyspot, Blue-fronted Dancer, Powdered Dancer, Blue-tipped Dancer, Dusky Dancer, Familiar Bluet, Stream Bluet, Citrine Forktail, Eastern Forktail, Southern Spreadwing

Throughout the day, we practiced our netting skills, used small containers to look at individuals that we caught, and practiced how to properly hold a dragonfly for identification and release them.  The colors and patterns of all the varied species were beautiful.

Many thanks to Andy and Kevin for sharing this with us.

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On June 21, Mona Miller (“The Butterfly Lady”) led our first butterfly walk of the season. Over 20 people, adults and kids, came out to Banshee Reeks to spot our flying friends and help with identification. 

Here’s a quick report of the species seen:

Great Spangled Fritillary (numerous)
Eastern Tailed Blue
Hickory Hairstreak (rare)
Mourning Cloak
Zebra Swallowtail
Black Swallowtail
Least Skipper
Duns Skipper
Little Glassywing
Cabbage White
Clouded Sulpher
Littlewood Satyr
and an unidentified Anglewing

Join us for our next butterfly walk at Claude Moore Park in July. Check out our Programs and Field Trips page for more information.

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Purple loosestrife, while beautiful, is an aggressive alien wetlands plant that has the potential to force out all other plants in a wetlands and thereby, degrade it.  This plant has established itself along a stream that flows into the Town of Round Hill and ultimately into Sleeter Lake.  If not removed, it has the potential of destroying the wetlands. The area involved is across Business Rte 7 from a riparian restoration project that the North Fork Goose Creek Project completed about five years back.  The project is scheduled for Saturday, June 21 at 9:00 a.m. and, if we don’t finish that day, we’ll wrap up on Saturday, July 12, also at 9:00 a.m. We will be removing this invasive plant by hand so please remember to bring work gloves and waders (this removal project is in and along a stream bank and wetlands) and any desired weeding tools you prefer. Anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. If you think you are interested in helping with this project please contact Joseph Villari at joeyvillari@yahoo.com or Joe Coleman at jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org or 540-554-2542. 

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On June 8th, we had Loudoun Wildlife Fest 2008 and it was so much fun! Over 200 people came out to support Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, learn about local amphibians and kick back to great sounds of 5 local bands: The Stringsmiths, One Horse Town, Andrew McKnight, The Acoustic Burgoo, and Dirty River

A full laydown of the event can be found at the link below along with lots more great pictures and info about the bands.

http://www.loudounwildlife.org/Loudoun_Wildlife_Fest_2008_Event_Report.html

Many thanks to everyone who helped put this event together and the bands for donating their time and making this such a great event!  And thanks to everyone who came and donated to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy!

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The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary still needs volunteers to adopt Nightjar Survey routes in Loudoun County. The first survey window closed May 28th but the second window is June 10-June 26.

Nightjars include the Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will’s-widow – some pretty cool but secretive birds.

The Nightjar Survey Network relies on volunteer participation by conservation-minded citizens, biologists, and other like-minded groups to adopt and conduct survey routes. Nightjar Surveys are easy to perform and take about two hours to complete.

Volunteers conduct roadside counts at night, during specific time windows when the moon is > 50 % illuminated, by driving and stopping at 10 points along a predetermined 9-mile route. At each point, without using audio lures, the observer counts all Nightjars seen or heard during a 6-minute period. Visit the United States Nightjar Survey Website for more details including location of routes, instructions, and results; www.ccb-wm.org/nightjars.htm. At this time the only active route in Loudoun County runs from Clarks Gap to Taylorstown and was surveyed by Joe Coleman and Laura Weidner last year. LWC would like to develop three additional routes in the county – if you think you might be interested in helping with a new route or take over the Taylorstown route, please let Mike Wilson know (mdwils@wm.edu) or contact Joe Coleman at jcoleman@loudounwildife.org or 540-554-2542.

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Many grassland birds, including Northern Bobwhites, Grasshopper Sparrows, Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, and Dickcissels, have experienced significant declines in recent years due to loss of habitat and changing agricultural practices, especially here in Loudoun County. 

What You Can Do: If you live in a community where your HOA has a meadow area or if you are a large, or even moderate, landowner and don’t need your meadows for pasture or hay, please hold off on cutting them until later in the summer. 

By doing this you will give the numerous birds that nest in tall grass an opportunity to nest and raise their young. Every year the young of these species are killed by unnecessary mowing. You don’t have to mow all that, especially every week. For more information on the native grasslands of Loudoun and the birds that you can help save, click here.

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Thanks for checking out our blog!  As we get blogging, we’ll be posting a variety of things about the wildlife and habitats around Loudoun County, Virginia.  We’ll also include field trip reports and local sightings, action alerts for speaking out to preserve and protect local wildlife habitat, special event announcements, tips on cool places to visit around Loudoun and more.

If you find a posting interesting please feel free to comment and share the blog with others who would enjoy it.

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