Archive for October, 2010

Eleven birders had a pleasant though very frosty bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship this morning.  We met and spent a few minutes birding the area right around the Visitor Center before heading over to the end of Sawmill Rd on the south side of the preserve. 

The highlight of the walk was the several hundred CEDAR WAXWINGS we saw both around the Visitor Center and on the south side of the preserve.  We also saw several dif. sparrow species as well as two COMMON RAVENS. 

With a heavy frost that left many of us with wet & cold feet we didn’t see a lot of butterflies but there was a Monarch flying south as we started (when it was still 33 degrees) and a few Common Buckeyes as it gradually warmed up. 
Joe Coleman

Number of species:     40
Canada Goose, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern), Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted), Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored), Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow.


Five-birders enjoyed clear skies and seasonally cool weather during Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s walk at Bles Park on October 13.  Quite a few winter birds made themselves seen, including large numbers of White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  A slowly circling juvenile Bald Eagle also gave everyone good looks. 

The complete tally: Canada Goose,  Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture,  Bald Eagle,  Red-shouldered Hawk,  Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove,  Red-bellied Woodpecker,  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,  Downy Woodpecker,  Northern Flicker,  Pileated Woodpecker,  Eastern Phoebe,  Blue Jay,  American Crow,  Fish Crow,  crow sp., Carolina Chickadee,  Tufted Titmouse,  White-breasted Nuthatch,  Carolina Wren,  Winter Wren,  Ruby-crowned Kinglet,  American Robin,  Gray Catbird,  Northern Mockingbird,  European Starling,  Yellow-rumped Warbler,  Chipping Sparrow,  Field Sparrow,  Song Sparrow,  Swamp Sparrow,  White-throated Sparrow,  White-crowned Sparrow,  Dark-eyed Junco,  Northern Cardinal,  House Finch.  American Goldfinch,  House Sparrow.


I received the following announcement about a great program that is coming up on October 22.  It’s free and open to the public.  Conservation easements are an excellent way to preserve wildlife habitat for the future and you receive excellent benefits today.  If you’re interested or just curious, come on out to find out more:

The Taylorstown Community Association, Friends of Catoctin Creek and Supervisor Sally Kurtz of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, invite you to meet with us Friday, October 22 from 4 to 6 pm at the Old Waterford School at 40222 Fairfax Street in the Village of Waterford.

There will be a presentation by Don Owen of the Land Trust of Virginia on how permanent conservation easements can help protect and preserve our lands, streams, historic places and benefit us, as land owners and concerned citizens.  Keith Troxell of the Virginia Easement Exchange will speak to the potential tax benefits.
Please come.  Invite your friends and neighbors to ask questions, discuss possible benefits, and enjoy refreshments with us.  Be sure to RSVP to:
If you have questions about the meeting, call Joan Linhardt at 540-822-4407.


2010 Annual Family Stream Day
Saturday, October 16, 2010
10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Claude Moore Park, Sterling, VA

On Saturday, October 16 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, an “Exploring Our Streams” day is planned.  This is the 9th annual “Family Stream Day” planned by Loudoun Watershed Watch.  This year’s event is co-hosted by the Loudoun Environmental Stewardship Alliance (LESA) and will offer exploration of a local urban stream and hands-on discovery of the smart landscaping, stormwater and erosion control, stream assessment and monitoring, and the many ways you can help your local streams and environment. 

The day’s events will include:
•       Kids games (several)
•       Stream monitoring (macroinvertebrates)
•       Soil erosion
•       Smart landscaping
•       Stormwater 
•       Games for kids
•       Wetland habitat
•       Water conservation
The Frog Shackle Nature Center will be open with nature displays.

Event Partners include: Loudoun Water,  Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, Loudoun County agencies, Piedmont Environmental Council, Audubon Naturalist Society, Claude Moore Parkand other Loudoun Watershed Watch member organizations.


On September 18 of this year, a phenomenal event occurred in Cape May, New Jersey — over 500,000 Monarchs migrated through in a single day. It was the greatest migration that has been seen there in years (and possibly ever).

The Monarch are migrating and they are coming down from Canada and points north, following the winds similar to the great songbird and hawk migrations that lead birds to the tip of Cape May, crossing the Delaware Bay’s 14 mile stretch of water and into Virginia.

Since that big push in September, Monarchs have been sighted more around here.  A nice report from Denise Gibbs on the Monarch Watch listserv provided this glimpse into what she is seeing on the coast:

Oct 10, 6:45am- 9am, Chincoteague NWR, Assateague Island, VA
A dense fog shrouded the refuge this morning, and everything was covered with dew, including the monarchs. The beads of water on their wings glistened with the first rays of sunlight. At 7:10am they spread their wings to bask. The weather conditions were full sun, 68 degrees, wind NE at 2mph, and humid (the salt marsh mosquitoes have been anxiously awaiting these conditions). At 7:25am the first monarchs lifted off, even though their wings still looked damp. It was finally time to leave this island.
I found a small roost in the shade and discovered one of the monarchs I tagged 3 days ago in almost the same spot. Thanks to the seaside goldenrod, his abdomen was noticeably larger than it was 3 days ago.
By 7:45am the NE wind had increased to 5mph. Most of the monarchs had lifted off and headed southwest toward Tom’s Cove. I stood at the water’s edge, happy to see that the surface was a mirror for the sky. I watched the monarchs fly out over the cove, turn around to head back to land then head back out again. They appeared to be testing the wind, to make sure it really was safe to cross water. I have never seen this hesitancy on good migration winds. Finally the monarchs relinquished their control to the wind and off they soared over calm blue water. Bye monarchs. Thank you for all the gifts you gave me this week.
By 9am there was not a monarch to be found anywhere. But at 9:30 the winds shifted and were ENE at 7mph– perfect conditions to bring any monarchs still left at sea back to land. I will be out there waiting for them.
Denise Gibbs

Many thanks to Denise for that posting. You can read more here on Monarch Watch and see photos of the goldenrod that Denise plants and helps maintain here.

The Monarchs now continue their migration 2000 miles to the mountains of Mexico for their winter slumber. Along this journey it is critical that they find the fall wildflowers: goldenrod, asters, new york ironweed and more, to feed upon and build up their fat reserves not only for the long trip to Mexico but also to get through the winter and start their migration home.


The eighteen birders who came out on a beautiful day for the regular monthly bird walk at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in central Loudoun Co found 49 species of birds.  Several of the participants had FOS birds including YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, BROWN CREEPER, HERMIT THRUSH, SWAMP SPARROWS, and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. 

Other highlights of the walk included seeing such large numbers of Northern Flickers, Blue Jays, and American Robins, that we frequently had to sift through them to find other species.  We also added several of our raptors and three COMMON RAVENS while tallying on the front porch of the Visitor Center.
The regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy ( and the Friends of Banshee Reeks (; information on both and their upcoming events can be found on their websites.  On these Saturdays, depending on the weather & the time of the year, we often visit the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project either before or after the Banshee walk.

Good birding,
Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co
Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk,  Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern), American Kestrel, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted), Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Common Raven, Tree Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle), Black-throated Green Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch.