Archive for November, 2010

I first saw this as a tweet on twitter and wanted to share it further.  It’s a story of a local community in South Riding that helped get a young Great Horned Owl to a wildlife rehabber. Here’s the Great Horned Owl blog post by Gateway to Loudoun and Dulles South. 

There are some great wildlife rehabilitators in Loudoun County and this story above is an example of how when we see injured wildlife, we can (and should) do something to help.

Typically when you call one of the wildlife rehab organizations, they’ll have an answering machine where you leave a message and volunteers call you back and walk you through next steps.

They also typically need you to secure the animal (in a box or some sort of transportation carrier), and you’ll most often need to drive the animal to the wildlife rehabber (they’re busy caring for lots of animals and don’t have time to drive around).

I’ve gone through this routine numerous times – with an opossum hit by the side of the road (photo above), rabbits, turtles, squirrels, a grackle, a hawk and yes, even a fawn.  Being a part of this process of helping to get the animal to the rehabber is so important - sometimes, it’s to put the animal out of a painful slow death if the injuries are that bad, other times it’s to save it’s life.  Both situations are so important and worthy of us as good samaritans to act.

One key thing to keep in mind is that it’s important not to stress out the animal further by having large crowds around it  - simply secure the animal and keep it in a warm dark place until you can get it into the caring hands of a rehabber.

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Kenn Kauffman wrote an incredible post on the journey of migratory birds and the impact of windmills – which are taking up the new function of “bird slicers”.

Please take a few minutes to read it here and then consider signing the online petition

The post is quite compelling and engaging as he talks about specific birds along the flight path. The photos are amazing: http://nimsoh.blogspot.com/2010/11/long-nights-journey-into-death.html

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Six of us showed up at the Blue Ridge Center yesterday morning for the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s bird walk hoping to walk off a few of those Thanksgiving pounds & find some int’g birds. 

Because of the wind and heavy cloud cover we quickly headed into sheltered areas, but still didn’t find very many birds.   We first covered some of the old scrubby fields around the visitor center and then headed into the woods on the Farmstead Loop. 

We did find healthy numbers of sparrows in the fields but not much variety with the most int’g sparrow being a handful of Field Sparrows.  With the wind making it esp. difficult to hear birds with high-pitched calls, we were able to find only 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets and no creepers. 

In spite of spending some time in habitat where we often find Hermit Thrushes and Fox Sparrows we didn’t find a one though there was a WINTER WREN in the brushy flood plain along Piney Run.
 
It was fun to watch four playful COMMON RAVENS cross the valley from Short Hill Mtn to the Blue Ridge in the wind.
 
For a complete list of the birds seen see the results below.
 
While the trails at BRCES are normally open to the public 7 days a week from dawn to dusk there are controlled deer hunts there this time of year so check the BRCES website for dates and times of when parts of BRCES are closed.
 
Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at http://www.blueridgecenter.org.   Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its many free activities can be found at www.loudounwildlife.org.
 
Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co

Number of species:     33

Canada Goose, Great Blue Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted), Pileated Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, European Starling, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

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I recently upgraded from a not so smart phone to the Droid — and I have to say, I’m finally getting what all the buzz with apps has been about. I’m not sure you can really call these devices phones anymore but they do make calls so that’s a benefit ;)

Anyway, as I wander through this forest of technology I’ve been coming across some neat tools for us to use in the field. 

One is certainly iBird, which got a lot of attention when it came out for the iPhone. It’s now available on the Droid too and was actually the first app I downloaded.  It’s pretty cool – similar to a portable field guide, with bird calls and you can use it to keep bird lists.

Another is Google Sky Map.  If you see a bright object in the sky, just turn on Google Sky Map and hold it facing the night sky and it shows a map of all the stars and planets. 

There are also some sun, moon and tide apps that are handy – you can even enter in dates in the future, which is handy if you’re planning a trip or field trip or something like that.

I know there are some apps for the iPhone that can help with stream monitoring but they’re not available on the Droid so I haven’t been able to try them out. Here are a couple in case anyone with a mac/iphone wants to give them a try:

- USGS River levels – this one pulls from USGS monitoring stations and provides an easy way to monitor the amount of water flowing in your favorite streams and rivers right from your Dashboard.

- Creek Watch – I really wish this was on the Droid – it looks pretty neat. After you upload a photo, you can check the data here: http://creekwatch.researchlabs.ibm.com/call_table.php and they have it linked to google maps so you can “Explore your Watershed“.

- Virginia Map iPhone app: “Virginia Map,” from the iTunes App Store. It showcases the Virginia Base Mapping Program aerial photography and the Virginia Base Map created by VGIN and now includes a GPS “locate me” capability.

If you’ve found some wildlife or nature apps that you’d like to share, please post a comment and let us know.  We can navigate the forest of apps together!

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Please Join/Renew your Membership for 2011!

As 2010 comes to a close and annual memberships expire, we’re jumping in to our annual membership development and renewal efforts.

Your membership, whether it’s $20, $30 or more, is so important to everything that Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy does. 

It not only provides us with the funds to put on so many great programs and projects but also demonstrates that Loudoun County does have a voice for wildlife!

We’re sending out the renewal letter to current members as well potential members who have expressed interest in our programs and field trips.

If you appreciate the work that we do for Loudoun, please renew or join. It only takes a minute to do it online.

As you know, we’re an all volunteer organization – we do what we do because we love the natural world that is still so alive here in Loudoun. Through our efforts we can promote the preservation of healthy wildlife habitats and help ensure that Loudoun has its wild places into the future.

Here are just a few of our accomplishments from 2010. With your support (and that of your friends and family) we can do even more in 2011! 

- Held over 100 programs and field trips that were free and open to the community and engaged adults and children of all ages

- Conducted tree plantings and other habitat restoration projects at Rust Nature Sanctuary, Leesburg Town Branch, and the Phillips Farm

- Created an educational rain garden at Freedom Park in Leesburg

- Engaged and taught a great group of kids through the Natural History Summer Day Camp

- Partnered with numerous organizations across Loudoun to double our efforts on programs, conservation advocacy and habitat restoration (I know I’ll leave some out if I try to do a full list but some of them include: Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, Friends of Banshee Reeks, ANS Rust Sanctuary, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, Waterford Foundation, Leesburg’s Environmental Advisory Commission, Piedmont Environmental Council, Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition, Northern Virginia Bird Club, and so many more)

- Through monitoring, we fledged over 600 sprite little bluebirds from our nest box trails, gathered water quality data from streams across Loudoun, collected amphibian population data in varied habitats, documented 221 bird species in Loudoun, and had one of our best butterfly count years ever with over 4,000 butterflies counted!

I love what Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy does for our community and our local wildlife.  I hope you do too!

And as a reminder – your contributions are tax deductible as allowed by the law. We really hope you’ll join/renew today for 2011. Your support makes such a difference and we need you!

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If you are, here’s a great newsletter produced by Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife – an organization dedicated to promoting greater understanding for beavers and their role in our communities.

They also engage in efforts to enable people to better coexist with beavers and you can read about some of their projects in the newsletter.

Beavers are here in spots around Loudoun County and often people just don’t understand the great benefit they provide. Flooding of certain areas as a result of their dam activities can be easily mitigated. Projects like that are great for Eagle Scouts and other groups to rally around.

For more information about Beavers, visit our Habitat Herald beaver articles (there’s a video here on Beavers as well as articles) or our Educational Resources Beavers page. Also visit the Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife site.

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You can be a hit with wildlife by providing fresh water through the winter. Cornell has put together a great tip sheet on how to best integrate a bird bath into your backyard bird habitat.

You can download it here, follow some simple steps and have the birds (and other wild friends) flocking in for a drink!

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Having gobbled up all that turkey (or vegan alternatives, which I enjoyed), you might want to get outside and stretch the legs!

We have our monthly bird walk scheduled for 8am this Saturday at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship and are excited to see our winter bird species settling in for the season!

The full program listing, directions and information on the meeting spot can be found on our November Calendar page

Hope to see you out there!

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Once nice thing about this time of year is that as trees drop their leaves and vegetation dies back, we can see signs of animal activity that may have been hidden through the summer. 

Nests built in trees become visible, cavities that may have served as nesting sites are revealed, and sapsucker holes, that may have been feverishly drilled last spring, stand out.

When we went on our bird walk at Algonkian Park last Saturday, we came across a tree along the river that had signs of sapsucker activity – a row of sapsucker holes, so level and so evenly spaced. 

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers themselves were flitting through the forest as well and it was great to see this connection.

To learn about Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, read this article by the Smithsonian – it’s fascinating!

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Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
- John Muir

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