Archive for December, 2010


Trees give peace to the souls of men.
- Nora Waln

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As white-nose syndrome wipes out little brown bats, groups petition for emergency protection http://bit.ly/geav4c

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Here’s quite an experience that happened to one of our fellow Loudouners in the Sterling area.  This time of year, Bald Eagles are starting to pair up. Part of the courtship ritual is an inflight locking of talons in which the pair spins in a whirling dervish and hopefully unlocks before hitting the ground.

This pair must not have realized how fast the ground was approaching.  Hopefully the two have recovered well.  Love isn’t always easy :)

This happened on December 20th. Here’s the story and photos (above) from the Hobbs family. You can click on the photos to see them larger:

I had the most amazing experience this afternoon.  I had just arrived home from holiday shopping around 2:30 p.m..  Was gathering all the goodies and just opening the car door when I heard an awful racket and a big thud.  I looked in the direction of the noise and there in my front yard were 2 BALD EAGLES!!!!!!!! 

I was stunned and after I gathered my thoughts I got out of the car and went into the house to get my camera.  They tried to move, but could not move independently of each other.  Somehow they got caught up together. 

At one point I was probably only 10 feet from them and they did not move.  After about 15 minutes and a few more tries at movement on their part they became untangled and stood and flew off. 

I was in the process of calling Animal Control as I thought perhaps they were injured.  Let me tell you, it was quite a sight!!  I am still amazed and excited.  How often does one have two bald eagles  fall into their yard!  Kinda one of those once in a lifetime things.  Enjoy the pictures!!!!!

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Have you seen it?  It’s EXCELLENT!! I barely know how to describe what it’s about because there’s so much to it.

It’s about dirt. It’s about society and religions. It’s about forests, trees and fields, farming, and community.

It’s international and national. It’s about war and peace, poverty and contentment.

It’s about connections. It’s about sustainability. It’s about restoration.

It’s about tiny microbes and cycles. It’s about water, air, energy, stars and planets. It’s funny (in parts), and it’s true.

Dirt — It’s alive. It’s what we’re made of.  There’s a whole party of life going on beneath our feet! Rent it and join the party!

I highly recommend the movie.  I rented it through Netflix but liked it so much I ordered a copy.  Check it out!

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Cornell is developing a new citizen science program called YardMap – a way to map your yard for the habitat that is there.  It’s targeted to go live in April 2011. 

From what I saw on their video, it looks like the data will provide information on what wildlife habitat is running through our communities, where voids are, and where restoration may be especially needed in order to bring back healthy habitat and migration corridors.

You can watch a video that introduces the online tool on their YardMap page. I expect more information will come out at the start of the new year. I plan to map my yard!

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Interesting Smithsonian article: Exurban development is changing communities of birds in Eastern Forests http://pulsene.ws/zod2

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Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.
- Maori Proverb

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Today marks the shortest day of the year, the official start of winter, and a celebration of the natural rhythm of our planet. NASA has a nice write-up talking about this celestial event:

For the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. In the steady march of the year in the Arctic, the days gradually grow shorter between June and December until the far North plunges into the complete darkness of winter. The trend reverses at Winter Solstice, the point during the year when the Northern Hemisphere is the most inclined away from the Sun.

After the solstice, which falls on December 21 or 22 every year, the days begin to lengthen. Probably because the day marks the beginning of the return of the Sun, many cultures celebrate a holiday near Winter Solstice, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. [More...]

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Here in Loudoun we really only get the Carolina Chickadee but on rare occasions a Black-capped does show up. 

Recently there was a posting on one of the birding listservs on how to tell the difference between the two.  The link here gives a great photographic explanation for what to look for:

http://www.smbirdphotos.com/index.cgi?do=view_photos&subcatID=201

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This is really cool!  So, whenever we do a bird walk or one of our big counts, like the Christmas Bird Count(which is Dec 29), our data is entered into the online database known as eBird.

Millions of others across the country are entering their data too and what results is a great story of migration!

Now, eBird has released the first 15 new  dynamic maps capturing the awe-inspiring ebb and flow of bird migration. See maps in action at eBird

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