Archive for April, 2011

While different states celebrate Arbor Day on different dates based on tree-planting weather, here in Virginia, it falls on the last friday in April (today!)

The Arbor Day Foundation has some great information on the history of Arbor Day – including an interactive history book – as well as educational materials that can be used with kids to teach them about trees.

They have a tree identification booklet, an Arbor Day video, online games and activities, and more.

Arbor Day is a great day to pause and appreciate trees. As is custom with Arbor Day – you can also plant one (or more!) that you can then watch grow and mature as you do the same. I love that.

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This past Saturday, we held our first birding and wine tasting walk! One of our fearless leaders, Jim McWalters, provides our field trip report:

There is a small corner of paradise in Northern Virginia called the Tarara Winery.  As one of Virginia’s oldest wineries, Tarara not only offers great wine but the idyllic setting makes a wonderful place for a walk. 

Situated high atop the Potomac River in northern Loudoun County, the 475-acre farm is home to a diversity of plant and wildlife. 

From the beautiful pond that greets visitors as they enter the winery, to the grounds along the Potomac River – wildlife can be found in abundance. 

The winery itself includes a rather large vineyard called “Nevaeh” (Heaven spelled backwards).  It grows a range of varieties including Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, CabernetSauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.   While most visitors head straight to the wine tasting room, we were fortunate to get a rare glimpse around the grounds that surround Tarara.

Although the weather for our walk was cloudy, it didn’t dampen the spirits of those who came out.  Along our route we saw a wide variety of bird species including the Northern Flicker, Great Blue Heron, Finches, Wrens, Vireos, Robins, Mockingbirds, and Sparrows just to name a few. (43+ species in all)

A nice diversity of wild flowers could be found including a large number of field pansies, phlox, mayapple, mustards, chickweeds, buttercups, and more.

As we headed down into the flood plains towards the Potomac River a cacophony of chirping Warblers could be heard in the woods. 

Huge Sycamore trees that lined the river’s bank stood defiant and strong against the high and fast current of the Potomac River. 

Further along the path, Turkey Vultures were spotted nesting high among the trees while wild turkey and deer tracks could be seen imprinted in the muddy clay all along the way.  All in all it was a delightful hike and many of the participants promised to return again in the not too distant future.

(and yes, after our walk, we did sample the wine, which was delightful!) More photos from the day, including the Turkey tracks, can be seen on our facebook page.

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Elliott and Nancy Kirschbaum led the walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship this past Saturday morning.
 
Eight people showed up for the bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES), in spite of the threatening weather. They were rewarded with a total of fifty-one species, including six species of warblers.

Highlights included a brief, but very close up, look at two male Blue-winged Warblers contesting territory, as well as looks, for some, of a hard to find singing Northern Parula and a chipping Louisiana Waterthrush.

Other signs of the season included the Great Crested Flycatcher, numerous White-eyed Vireos and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and the ubiquitous singing Chipping Sparrows.

The complete list of species seen is as follows: Cananda Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Blue-winged Warbler, Northern Parula, Prairie Warbler, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow
 
Elliot Kirschbaum
Shepherdstown, WV
 
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.

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I Scream, You Scream,

We all Scream for  Clean Streams!
Rally In Support of The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Where: The Loudoun County Government Center, Leesburg, VA

When: Rally Outside from 6:00 – 6:45 PM then Stand Up For Streams Inside @ 7:00

Clothing: WEAR BLUE for Clean Streams

Free Ice Cream for the First 150 people!

More Details: www.loudounstreams.org

First: gather outside for a rousing rally with a performance by local singer/songwriter, Andrew McKnight (www.andrewmcknight.net), and

Then: come inside the Board Room and stand up to show the Supervisors that you support the CBPO as a step toward cleaner streams, cleaner water, and lower water bills.

Is Clean Water worth an hour of your time?
We think so. Please join us on May 2nd.

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Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.
- John Ruskin, 1819-1900

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Found this video on Eastern Box Turtles that I thought you might enjoy too:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFxABr_WSYc

Over the next few months, box turtles will be on the move. Keep an eye out for them in and along roads and move them to safety (in the direction they were moving) so they don’t get killed.

It’s important not to collect them or remove them from their home range because they are very faithful to the acres in which they grew up. 

You can learn more about box turtles by listening to our podcast too: Eastern Box Turtles.

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To celebrate the importance of bird migration the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, in partnership with three other groups, is sponsoring 12 bird walks between May 7 and May 15. 

Migration is one of the most important and spectacular events in the life of a bird ─ its journey between it summer and winter homes.  Without healthy habitat, many of these of these birds would not be able to survive their incredibly long journey. 

Join us at few of these great places.

We also hold a Birdathon to raise money for the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s bird conservation efforts ─ if you think might be interested in participating or sponsoring one of the teams, visit www.loudounwildlife.org/IMBD_Birdathon.htm. [donations of $50 or more receive a free Go Wild, Go Birding t-shirt or LWC t-shirt, your choice]

All of the following walks, in order by date, begin at 8:00 a.m. unless indicated.  Registration required: Sign Up Online or contact Joe Coleman at jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org or 540-554-2542.

Algonkian Regional Park — Saturday, May 7, 8:00 a.m. Co-sponsored with the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.  Join Bill Brown and Jay Hadlock for a visit to the varied habitats in this regional park which borders the Potomac River in eastern Loudoun County and includes extensive bottomland forest.

Bles Park & the Great Blue Heron Rookery along Broad Run — Saturday, May 7, 8:00 a.m.  Join Robert and Cathey Daugherty as they explore this delightful park along the Potomac River and then pay a visit to the close-by Great Blue Heron Rookery along Broad Run where there are more than 60 Great Blue Heron nests.  While Bles is small, its many fields and wetlands host a surprisingly large and diverse population of birds.

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship — Saturday, May 7, 8:00 a.m.  Join Joe Coleman and Mary Ann Good as they explore this beautiful 900-acre preserve in northwestern Loudoun County.  The meadows in the valley, the rich wetlands, healthy streams, and heavily forested slopes on the Blue Ridge, are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including many different species of birds.

Birding Waterford’s Phillips Farm — Saturday, May 7, 8:00 a.m.  Join Dale Ball and Bruce Johnson as they bird this wonderful 144-acre farm on the edge of historic Waterford.  Visitors will pass through some of the 1500 trees and shrubs that the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Waterford Foundation have planted on the walk to the old 18th century dam on the Catoctin.  These trees and shrubs and the Catoctin Creek that they border are home to several swallow species, Belted Kingfishers, Barred Owls, Red-shouldered Hawks, and more.

Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project — Sunday, May 8, 8:00 a.m.  Join Bruce Hill and Cheri Conca for a bird walk at the Dulles Greenway Wetlands.  Built in the early 1990’s to replace the wetlands lost when the Dulles Greenway was built, this wetlands along the Goose Creek near Oatlands, is a great place to observe a wide variety of birds varying from small sparrows and shorebirds with their cryptic plumage to the magnificent pair of Bald Eagles who have successfully nested there for the last five years.  Waterproof footgear, long pants, and insect repellent are advised.

Morven Park — Monday, May 9, 8:00 a.m.  While many people know Morven Park for its beautiful and historic setting and buildings, few people realize that the 1000-acre National Register Historic Property includes hundreds of acres of mature forest along the Catoctin Ridge.  Join Sharon Kearns and Joe Coleman for a bird walk on this beautiful and historically rich property. 

Along the Goose Creek at the Goodstone Inn — Wednesday, May 11, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.  Join Christine Perdue and Joe Coleman for a bird walk along the Goose Creek and surrounding fields just a couple of miles north of Middleburg.  Meet at lower parking lot of the Inn.  For anyone interested in staying the inn opens for lunch at 11:30 a.m.

Birding the Beagle Institute — Friday, May 13, 8 a.m.  Join Linda Millington and Emily Southgate, who is very familiar with the institute, on a bird walk in the rich habitat that comprises the privately-owned 500-acre National Beagle Club Institute Farm Property.  This delightful western Loudoun County property near Aldie is on the National Register of Historic Properties and was one of the locations where American Woodcocks were viewed earlier this spring.

Birding the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve ― Saturday, May 14, 8:00 a.m.   Join Dori Rhodes and Del Sargent of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Friends of Banshee Reeks for a bird walk at the 725-acre Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve.  Because of its rich and varied habitat, this part of the county is a birding hot spot.

Birding the Horsepen Preserve ― Saturday, May 14, 8:00 a.m.  Join Andy Rabin and Linda Sieh as they search for birds at the privately-owned and heavily-forested Horsepen Preserve, a large, natural area that borders the Potomac River immediately to the west of Algonkian Park. The rich bottomland and extensive wetlands that comprise this 400-acre preserve are home to numerous species of birds.

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge ― Saturday, May 14, 8:00 a.m.  Co-sponsored with the Northern Virginia Bird Club.  Join Peter and Molly Ross of the Northern Virginia Bird Club as they search for birds at this wonderful national wildlife refuge at the confluence of the Potomac and Occoquan River which happens to be immediately across from the Mason Neck State Park and National Wildlife Refuge in Fairfax County.  While this refuge in northern Prince William County is a long way from Loudoun County it is well worth the drive due to the numerous species that can be found there especially in spring during the height of migration.

International Migratory Bird Day Walk for Children, at the Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg ― Saturday, May 14, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.  This walk, designed for children, ages 8 – 12, who are interested in learning about birds and how to identify them, will visit the many different habitats on this 68-acre nature sanctuary on the edge of Leesburg.  Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking/hiking shoes.  Registration required: Sign Up Online or contact Phil Daley at pdaley@loudounwildlife.org or 540-338-6528.

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Each year, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sends a few people to view projects that kids around the county have worked on for the Loudoun County Science Fair and pick the top 3 projects as our award winners.

We see this as a way to encourage your young people in exploring nature and learning about the interelationships that exist in our world.

This year was no exception. Our judges had a great time as always learning about all the different projects and they selected three winners.  They are:

1st Place
Molly Booth-Observing the Effect of Human Disturbance on Low Trophic Level Biodiversity

2nd Place
Ashley Lohr-Sugar Quality of Zinnia elegans as a Coevolution Factor in Color Selection by Lepidopterans

3rd Place
Sean O’Neil-the Effect of Organic Substances on Stink Bugs

We will recognize these students at our Annual Meeting in June, where they will have their projects on display and we will present them with their award checks.

You can see a listing here of our past Loudoun County Science Fair award winners.

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It’s time again for our annual Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Bird-a-thon– the day when we go out and count as many birds as we can and raise money for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy programs and projects.

We need you to make this successful!

You can participate either by forming a team and collecting pledges or by sponsoring a team that has already signed up.

If you form a team, all you need to do is register your team via our website, select a date to do your count (full instructions are here) and collect pledges (they can be a flat donation amount or a per bird pledge)

All experience levels are welcome – and if you decide that you want to do your bird-a-thon on the same day as International Migratory Bird Day, you can join up with one of our walks and count birds that way too.

We also offer prizes and thank you gifts for participants.

As with our past Bird-a-thons, everyone who raises or contributes $50 or more will receive an individual membership for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy for 2010 and their choice of either a Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy or International Migratory Bird Day t-shirt. 

In addition to knowing that your efforts are going to great local programs and projects, right here in Loudoun, donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

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Make a difference this spring helping with these habitat restoration projects:

Branching out at the Lovettsville Park, Saturday, April 30 from 10 am to noon
Celebrate Arbor Day and help plant 100 trees and shrubs at the Lovettsville Park.  Wear your boots, work gloves, and bring a shovel.   Please call the Lovettsville Community Center at 540-822-5284 to register.

Leesburg’s Town Branch Riparian Buffer, Wednesday, May 11, 4 to 7 pm
Over the past two the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, working with the Leesburg Environmental Advisory Committee/Watershed Committee and the Piedmont Environmental Council, have planted over 500 trees, shrubs, and native perennial plants along Town Branch next to the Bowling Alley on Catoctin Circle.  On Wednesday, May 11, from 4 to 7 pm, we will replace some of the shelters, and weed and mulch around some of the shrubs and perennials.  If you are interested in helping please contact Joe Coleman at jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org or 540-554-2542.

Freedom Park Rain Garden, Saturday, May 21, 9 am to noon
Last fall, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, working with the Leesburg Watershed Committee, and several town departments, planted a rain garden at Leesburg Freedom Park at the corner of Tolbert Lane and Evergreen Mill Road.  On Saturday, May 21, we are going to expand the rocky entrance to the rain garden, plant about 72 perennials, and do some weeding around the plants e put in last fall.  If you are interested in helping please contact Joe Coleman at jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org or 540-554-2542.

 Questions about any of the above? Contact Joe Coleman at jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org or 540-554-2542.

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