Archive for April, 2010

The latest issue of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Habitat Herald newsletter was mailed to members in early April. Hopefully you all received it.  Attaching here the pdf of the Spring Issue so you can download it or send it around to friends.

This season’s issue includes:
- Black Bears in Loudoun County (an article all about the lifecycle of Black bears and some notes about sightings from past years in Leesburg, Aldie, Ashburn Purcellville and elsewhere)

- Birdfoot Violet – a wonderful springtime wildflower that you may encounter on a hike

- Brook Trout and Stone fly articles – some interesting information about these stream inhabitants

- and of course all sorts of updates from our committees, nature program and field trip listings, habitat restoration projects and more.

Hope you all enjoy this latest issue!  And feel free to share it far and wide :)

You can also find past issues of the Habitat Herald and the individual articles in our Habitat Herald Archives.


Goose and Catoctin Creek – Recognition of 40th Anniversary of Scenic River Program

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has adopted a resolution to recognize the Goose and Catoctin Creek with regards to their scenic river status in the context of the 40th anniversary celebration in 2010.  The recognition will take place at the Board Meeting Room on Monday, 5/3, at 6 pm.

There will be a display of photographs from Dept of Conservation and Recreation and a slideshow of photo’s submitted by: Mark Jeffries, Carol Clay-Ward, Chris VanVlack, Versar and others.  These may be viewed at

Learn more about the Virginia’s Scenic River Program at:


There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

- Robert Lynd


Mary Ann Good provided a great write-up from our bird walk yesterday at the Blue Ridge Center. After years of bird watching, we’re noticing a reduction in birds. Is it just an odd season or something more?  Here’s her report:

10 birders came out for the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship on April 24, led by Gerry Hawkins, and were grateful that the threatened rain didn’t materialize until the end of the morning, in fact the sun came out.

Our high hopes for migrants, or for nearly any birds for that matter, were let down as the trail from Arnold Road to the Powercut was eerily silent, until we finally found some decent activity at the Powercut. Our tally was just 42, which compares, from my notes, to 65 at the same walk in 2008, 2 days later.

We had just 3 woodpecker species (5 in 08), 1 vireo species (4 in 08), and 3 warbler species (8 in 08), and many other conspicuous misses. We tried to console ourselves that the migrant season is late this year, but the eerie lack of birds, period, was an exact duplication of the conditions I found on my exploration of the field, woods, stream, and pasture habitats near my home last weekend. It’s disturbing to me, to say the least. Has anyone else had similar experience with this spring’s birding, or are these just flukes? Time will tell.

We did have a few nice sightings along the trail-good looks at pairs of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers at two different nests, a Hermit Thrush, and then at the Powercut, a Broad-winged Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk soaring and seeming to interact, good looks at a White-eyed Vireo, excellent views of Blue-winged Warbler, and surprisingly, 4 female Purple Finches. The list follows:

Canada Goose – 4, Mallard – 1, Wild Turkey – 1, Great Blue Heron – 4, Turkey Vulture – 6, Broad-winged Hawk – 3, Red-tailed Hawk – 1, Am. Kestrel – 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker – 6, Downy Woodpecker – 1, Pileated Woodpecker – 4, E. Phoebe – 1, White-eyed Vireo – 2, Blue Jay – 85, Am. Crow – 6, Tree Swallow – 10, Car. Chickadee – 5, Tufted Titmouse – 4, White-breasted Nuthatch – 4Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 12, E. Bluebird – 8, Hermit Thrush – 1, Am. Robin – 4, Brown Thrasher – 1, Eur. Starling – 18, Blue-winged Warbler – 4 singing, La. Waterthrush – 3, C. Yellowthroat – 3, E. Towhee – 5, Chipping Sparrow – 8, Field Sparrow – 6, Song Sparrow – 1, Swamp Sparrow – 2, White-throated Sparrow – 6, No. Cardinal – 8, Red-winged Blackbird – 3, C. Grackle – 6, Brown-headed Cowbird – 6, Purple Finch – 4, House Finch – 1, Am. Goldfinch – 36+ (in contrast to the lack of other birds, this bird was plentiful)


Back in late March and early April, our Bluebird monitors started lining up their teams, setting their monitoring schedules for the season and getting ready for nesting! We made our first trips out to the nestbox trails, which are in various places across Loudoun – Claude Moore Park, Temple Hall Farm, Algonkian Park, Rust Nature Sanctuary, and others, as well as private trails maintained by homeowners.

During the first few weekends, we started seeing some early signs, like a pair of Bluebirds courting or sticking their heads in and out of the boxes, and heard the males singing. Then, we started seeing the nesting activity, with beautiful soft grass nests carefully formed for insulation and comfort.

By April 18th, we had nests and eggs along many of the trails. I monitored at both Banshee Reeks and the Dulles Wetlands trails on the 18th and the trails were very active with not only Bluebirds and full clutches of eggs but also Tree Swallows claiming boxes, pairing up and starting their courtship displays.

The Bluebirds will continue to pair up and get their nesting going and then they’ll have as many as three broods over the course of the season. So far, we’re off to a great start!


balls_bluff_apr_2009It was September, 1969 when Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced that in the spring of 1970, there would be grassroots demonstrations across the country to raise awareness for the widespread degradation of our eco-systems and the need to turn that around. 

Then, as promised that following spring, on April 22, there were environmental teach-ins across the country and over 20 million people participated.

Forty years later, Earth Day continues to be recognized and celebrated on April 22 and today over 500 million people in 175 different countries join in the celebration. And while really every day is earth day, it’s great to pause on this one day and truly take stock of where we are with the health of our planet and where we’re going.

I was first introduced to the idea of Earth Day when I was in college in the ’80s. There was a cool t-shirt (which yes, I still have…in spite of a stain or two) and fun activities across campus, but from my vantage point today, the idea of Earth Day was still just a murmur back then.

Today, there are Earth Day and Green Living events that take place in towns across our area and more people are aware and plugged in to it.  And this is how we change – we become aware, we  tell others, we embrace new ways of thinking of doing. Change happens slowly but every journey begins with a single step. 

So let’s raise our glasses, put our hands together and celebrate our great earth with all her diversity of species! Wish friends and family a Happy Earth Day and talk about our environment. And as we’re talking, let’s also show and do….Let’s take steps that we can make – both great and small – to restore our habitats, clean up our pollution, change our ways so we tread more lightly. Let’s make sure that we have done everything we can to have and ensure a healthy ecosystem, because we’re all part of this system.

One Planet, One Future, right?


Here are some fun Earth Day ideas for things to do to get outdoors and enjoy nature!

• Plant a tree or two at our Habitat Restoration event in the Leesburg this weekend.

• Get into Gardening for Wildlife – plant native and let your garden be a wild place!

• Take your children outside and discover nature – we have lots of field trips planned each month.

• Pick up trash at a local park – there are Great Places in every corner of Loudoun, so you don’t have to go far. Just grab a trash bag and pick up litter as you walk along a trail.

• Visit Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy at our fair booth at the Earthday Family Festival on Sunday.

• Contact our County Supervisors and tell them about environmental issues you care about.

• Join/Donate to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. Your steady support helps us preserve and protect wildlife habitat here in Loudoun. Your donation provides funding for our environmental education and outreach efforts, and your membership raises our voice for wildlife when we speak out.

When you join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, you:
• Support nature programs and projects local to our community.

• Help expand our environmental education and outreach efforts.

• Stay informed and learn more about local wildlife and plants with our quarterly newsletter, the Habitat Herald.

• Receive invitations to our special events and training opportunities, like our upcoming Annual Meeting, celebrating our 15 years of environmental education and action here in Loudoun.


To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.

- Mohandas K. Gandhi


Join us on Sunday, May 16 at the Rust Nature Sanctuary (Leesburg) for a great evening with good food, good friends and lots of nature talk at our 15th Annual Meeting!  It’s pretty cool to have an all volunteer organization make it to 15 years – so come on out and celebrate! 

Beginning at 5:00 p.m., the evening will include refreshments, delicious food, music, a raffle, wildlife habitat exhibits showcasing local flora and fauna, and a short program by Spring Ligi, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Atlas Coordinator.

Spring will describe the first year of the birding atlas, how much we have already learned, and what we hope to accomplish over the next four years.

President Joe Coleman will report on the state of the organization, and LWC’s science fair and volunteer awards will be presented. Join us for this fun and informative evening – meet new nature friends, catch up with old ones! This is such a great time to enjoy each other and talk wildlife! 

Please RSVP via our Sign-Up Form. For more information contact Helen Van Ryzin at


Ann Garvey has organized an excellent Native Plant sale to take place on Saturday, May 22, 9am to 4pm at Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg. You can download the flier here.

Two local nurseries will be bringing their plants and if you want, you can contact them now to place an order so you’re sure to get the plants you want… maybe some milkweed :) !

Hill House Farm and Native Nursery:, or email to

Nature-By-Design:, or email to 

 For those planting Monarch Butterfly Waystations this year, here’s a list of the plants we recommend: Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) , Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) , Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculate), Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Purple Coneflower (Enchinacea purpurea), Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Goldenrod (Solidago), New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

For other plant ideas, take a look at our Gardening for Wildlife Plant list – it has not only the names of great native plants and their attributes but also the wildlife that you’ll attract by including them in your garden. You can download the full Gardening for Wildlife Plant list or use our Gardening for Wildlife search tool to generate targeted lists of plants.