Archive for October, 2009

Talk of mysteries!
Think of our life in nature – daily to be shown matter,
to come in contact with it – rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks.
The solid earth!

- Henry David Thoreau


It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours.

- John F. Kennedy


We’re very excited to say that the Loudoun Wildlife Nature Book Club is kicking back off again with Donna Quinn jumping in to coordinate it!

Book_Club_Hope_for_AnimalsThe book that we are reading now is a great one by Jane Goodall called Hope for Animals and their World.  Short essays make up the book so you can jump in anywhere and read a few sections.

The next meeting will be on November 5th at 7:30pm in Ashburn. If you’re interested in coming, please sign up online and Donna will provide more information and directions for the meeting spot.

If you can’t attend this meeting but would like to receive information on future books that we select and meet-ups, just sign up online and we’ll make sure you’re in the know.


The pond near the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Rust Nature Sanctuary Manor House is not only excellent wildlife habitat that many of us love to visit, it is a favorite educational tool for the numerous environmental education classes that are held at the sanctuary.  It is a favorite of both adult visitors and children. 

Rust_pondUnfortunately it has sprung a leak which needs to be repaired.  Additionally, there are a lot of invasive alien plants around the pond as well as some other aggressive plants that need to be removed. 

On Friday, November 6, from 9 am to about lunch, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy will help Bruce repair the leak and begin working on removing the invasive and aggressive plants.  On Saturday, November 7, from 9 am to about lunch, we will concentrate on removing, or at least, reducing, the aggressive plants and invasive alien plants.

If you are interested in helping please contact Bruce McGranahan at or 703-669-2561.

A group of volunteers renovated the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Rust Nature Sanctuary pollinator garden to include only native plants and shrubs.  Now they would like to enhance the pollinator garden by adding more host and nectar plants to an area behind the present garden.  To do this they must first remove the non-native invasive wisteria which covers this area.  Once that is completed they will plant pawpaw, sassafras, and spicebush as host trees and possibly a couple of other trees as well.  They also plan to plant additional flowers as nectar sources as well as some native grasses.

The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy plans to help Ann with this project on Saturday, November 7 from 9 am to noon.   If you are interested please contact Ann at or 540-882-4405.


Wanted to pass on information on an event coming up on Oct 24 by the Izaak Walton League:  “An Evening for Outdoor Ethics.” This is their 20th annual banquet. The flier with more information can be downloaded here: Banquet Flier and Anti-Poaching poster.


It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.

- Ursula LeGuin


On October 10th, 23 people found 41 species of birds during the monthly bird walk at Banshee Reeks.  The highlights of several different raptor species included a single Merlin. We were surprised by how few sparrows there were; we also didn’t find a single warbler in sprite of visiting several suitable locations for both.  

There were a lot of Northern Flickers, Blue Jays, and American Robins moving around throughout the preserve as well as at least six dif. Eastern Phoebes.  We did find two thrushes along a stream near the Goose Creek that we were unable to identify as we never got to see their faces.  Both were dull and appeared to be either Gray-cheeked or Swainson’s.

Here’s the full species list: Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey (1), Bald Eagle (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin (1), Rock Pigeon (2), Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift (6), Belted Kingfisher (1), Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe (6), Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow (1), Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2), Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird (1), Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Towhee (3), Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch


The night was cloudless and absolutely without wind…
the butterflies slept on, and on, and on, with wings tightly folded together
until the rays of sun fell upon them the following morning,
and then…as if touched with a magic wand,
the mighty colony…wafted into the air.

- Jennie Brooks,
written in 1907 upon observing a migration of Monarch butterflies roosting in a tree


October is the time to think about what you want your bird and butterfly friendly landscape to look like in the spring!  This is the best time to buy native plants from the nursery as they are winding down their summer sales and are looking to empty their inventories so they don’t need to carry them through the winter. It’s also a great time to plant since it’s cool for you and the plants focus on growing their roots versus putting all their energy into leaves and flowers.

This is also the perfect time to get seeds out into the garden and this is the time to buy them. Depending on the monarch-1-9_18_2005species, the seeds will germinate sometime between September and December so having them in the soil in the fall is really important.

I like to buy seeds online in large quantities, go out into the garden and loosen up the soil a bit with a rake and then sprinkle them throughout the garden, using the rake to help get them into the soil a bit. The seeds then have the time they need to work their way into the soil and go through the winter stratification that they need to germinate and be ready for spring.

I love planting seeds because it also means that I don’t have to do much after I send the seeds off into the garden – no need to water small plants or fuss over them. Being native plants, they know what to do and are primed to take care of themselves with just a little weeding from me next spring and summer. Of course, you can do some watering of the seeds if you want and it will probably increase your germination rate. I suggest watching how much rain we get and maybe just giving one good soaking on a cloudy day.

For ideas on some great native wildflowers to put into your bird and butterfly friendly landscape, check our Gardening for Wildlife Plant Listand other resources on our Habitat Restoration pages.


The following is from Spring Ligi, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Bird Atlas Coordinator:
34 atlasers have spent 939 hours in the field documenting 10,634 sightings. They have recorded 182 species, with 90 of these species having a confirmed nesting status.

Some of the highlights to date include confirmed breeding for the Loggerhead Shrike, probable breeding for the Horned Lark, Cerulean Warbler, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and observations of 3 White Ibises and a Stilt Sandpiper.   
Overall, the first breeding season seemed to go pretty well. In the upcoming months, I plan on working with Patuxent to make some minor improvements to the data entry system.  I’ll also review the data collected from the 2009 nightjar/owl and miniroute surveys, making changes to and “finalizing” the protocol and forms as needed for future seasons.  I also plan on consulting with the atlas advisory panel for their opinion on a few specific issues and organizing a meeting for atlasers to provide input on what seemed to work well and what can be improved for future atlas years.
1.  Please take a moment to think of one or two people that may be interested in assisting with the Loudoun County Bird Atlas (either as a block owner or a helper) and pass their names along to me. 
2.  Please send me the names and addresses of any landowners that have given [LWC] permission to atlas on their land so I can update my records.
Spring Ligi
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator