Archive for November, 2011

With all things and in all things, we are relatives.
- Sioux Proverb


Please join the
of  the
for an informal walk at Sky Meadows State Park, in Clarke and Fauquier Counties near Paris.

Second Sunday Walk, December 11, 1 – 3 pm

Meet Naturalist Chris Lewis and VNPS members and join them on a one mile long relatively easy walk. Chris will follow the Shearman’s Mill Trail and will show you how to identify trees in winter. Meet at the horse stables in the park located in the section east of Rt. 17. Wear clothes suitable for the weather, sturdy shoes and bring water. For more details, please contact Chris at


Our Monarchs from here in Loudoun have arrived in Mexico and are in their winter slumber. PBS put together a terrific film on the migration:

Follow the 2,000-mile migration of monarchs to a sanctuary in the highlands of Mexico. Airs tomorrow night – November 30, 2011 on PBS

Program Description

Orange-and-black wings fill the sky as NOVA charts one of nature’s most remarkable phenomena: the epic migration of monarch butterflies across North America. To capture a butterfly’s point of view, NOVA’s filmmakers used a helicopter, ultralight, and hot-air balloon for aerial views along the transcontinental route. This wondrous annual migration, which scientists are just beginning to fathom, is an endangered phenomenon that could dwindle to insignificance if the giant firs that the butterflies cling to during the winter disappear.

You can watch a preview of the film here – it’s fantastic:



The Garden Club of America recently recognized our own Joe Coleman with their Zone Civic Improvement Commendation Award.  Our congratulations and appreciation go out to Joe! 

Below are excerpts from two of the letters of recommendation that were submitted for this award:

From the Land Trust of Virginia:
Joe has been a key member of the Land Trust of Virginia for many years, serving on both the Board of Directors and the Easement Committee almost since the inception of the organization.

His contributions include extensive work on review of proposals, easement tracking and monitoring properties under easement in western Loudoun and northern Fauquier Counties. He helped the Land Trust develop the stewardship capacity to monitor all of the easements in its portfolio.

Joe also is largely responsible for creating and shepherding the development of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, which has become a critical force in protecting the flora and fauna of Loudoun County. Finally, Joe is an active Board member for the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, a 900-acre property in northern Loudoun County that is dedicated to the proper stewardship of the area’s natural resources.

From the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club:
In 1995, Joe was one of three who founded Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, the purpose of which is “protection and proliferation of wildlife habitat.” He served as its first president and is president again today. Early on, Joe recognized that with the rapid growth in Loudoun County, there needed to be an advocate for wildlife.

Joe spearheaded and led programs, projects, advocacy and education over a 13 year period.  lt is remarkable that this all-volunteer organization now has 800 members who are active volunteers in many of the projects that Joe has implemented.

Joe’s knowledge, passion, and direction have resulted in partnerships with other organizations in and around Loudoun and Fauquier counties.  Under Joe’s leadership and vision, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has worked for better habitats, cleaner water and improved environmental standards.

“The voice of the naturalist,” Joe speaks often before Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to educate and inform them on the impacts of their decisions on our environment.


Before the chill of winter rolls over the Catoctins and we settle in for winter, we need to do one last habitat restoration project – and we really need your help to get it completed.

We hope you can come out for this – and bring friends and family. It’s a great end-of-the year event:

Creating Meadow Habitat at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship ― Saturday, December 3, 1:00 p.m. 

In October over a dozen people began restoring two meadows, the most threatened habitat in the U.S., at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in northwestern Loudoun County near Harpers Ferry. 

To restore this habitat and the wildlife that depends on it we must first cut down all the Autumn Olive, a highly aggressive invasive alien shrub, and several other trees and shrubs which are rapidly taking over the two meadows. 

After the trees and shrubs are cut down we are using them to build brush piles which wildlife can use for shelter. While we accomplished a lot in October we didn’t finish. 

If you are a high school student or older and interested in helping contact Joe Coleman at or 540-554-2542.


Nine of us showed up for the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s regular bird walk (every 4th Sat except Dec) at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in northwestern Loudoun County near Harper’s Ferry.  It was in the lower 30′s when we started and stayed surprisingly cool for awhile though it did finally warm up to almost 60.
One of our first birds occurred at the very beginning of the walk and alerted us to its presence with a thrush-like call that was similar to but not the chup of a Hermit Thrush but closer to the quip of a SWAINSON’S THRUSH. 

It was perched in a tree near the small farm pond which is close to the Education Center and stayed there long enough to for all of us to get great looks at it and for one person to take a photo which we haven’t rec’d yet.  All its diagnostics (distinct buffy eye ring, dull spotting on the chest & dull coloration on the back, & a total lack of tail-dipping the entire time we watched it) indicated a very late Swainson’s Thrush. 

To top it off, when it finally flew away we listened to dif. thrushes on BirdJam and when it flew back in, it responded to the call of a Swainson’s Thrush.  The late date for Swainson’s Thrush in the Maryland Yellow Book is Dec. 1; looking at Virginia’s Gold Book this may be a late record for VA.  Hope the photos turns out.  Interestingly enough we never found a Hermit Thrush in spite of being in pretty nice habitat for this species.
After watching the Swainson’s Thrush we crossed the berm next to the pond where there was lots of activity including our heard our first Brown Creeper of the walk(we saw three and heard at least that many in other locations),  one of several we heard and three. 

We also had several Golden-crowned Kinglets and at least two Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  Other highlights included two Fox Sparrows, at least 6 Field Sparrows (but no Am. Tree Sparrows), more Juncos than we wanted to count, and a handful of hawks.  Also surprising was the lack of any Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.  All in all a nice walk on a pleasant late fall day.
Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at   Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its many free activities can be found at

Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co

See below for complete list of bird species seen:
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship – MFF01, Loudoun, US-VA
Nov 26, 2011 7:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
31 species

Turkey Vulture, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Swainson’s Thrush, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Field Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch.


In Our Backyard: A Celebration of Loudoun’s Historic and Environmental Heritage ― Sunday, December 4, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sponsored by the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition, a group of local organizations dedicated to the preservation, enhancement, and celebration of Loudoun’s unique historic and environmental assets, to honor the incoming Board of Supervisors.

Come and enjoy multiple exhibits highlighting each organization’s activities. Enjoy light refreshments and a short talk by Kathleen Kilpatrick, Director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Tour the Fort Evans Civil War site.

Fort Evans was the first of three earthworks of similar configuration built in 1861 by the Confederates to protect the approaches to Leesburg. Named for Col. Nathan “Shanks” Evans, the fort is about 1.5 acres in extent and was placed to cover the Edwards Ferry Road and the turnpike from Alexandria (today Route 7).

The event is free and the public is invited.

Location: REHAU, 1501 Edwards Ferry Road NW, Leesburg (approximately opposite Costco and Target stores)

For more information, contact: Al Van Huyck ( or Patty Rogers-Renner ( Visit Loudoun Preservation Society on Facebook for updates and last minute information.

Exhibitors will include:
Aldie Heritage Association
Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Land Trust of Virginia
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority
Loudoun Preservation Society
Loudoun Watershed Watch
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
Loudoun Archaeological Foundation
Loudoun County Civil War Round Table
Mosby Heritage Area Association
Waterford Foundation
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship
Goose Creek Association
Unison Preservation Society
Sustainable Loudoun
George Marshall International Center
Lincoln Preservation Foundation
Banshee Reeks Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Virginia
Friends of Banshee Reeks


I hope so! Now it’s time for some fun holiday shopping and a nature walk!

Head over to the Rust Nature Sanctuary Shop in Leesburg for some wonderful gifts for the nature enthusiasts (and crazy ‘ole birds) in your family and when you’re done, take a stroll along the trails (you can’t do that at the mall!).

At the shop you’ll find a wide selection of nature books for adults and kids, binoculars (nice gift – just in time for the Christmas Bird Count on December 28th!), bird feeders, bird-friendly coffee, notecards, tshirts, toys….and very friendly volunteers to help you out.

Members of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy receive a 20% discount (that’s huge!) on seeds and other items.

While at the sanctuary, take a few minutes for a nice nature walk – the trails are lovely, and with this warm weather, you’ll likely see all sorts of neat wildlife out and about.

Rust Nature Sanctuary, located at 802 Childrens Center Rd in Leesburg, is one of our great places here in Loudoun and a wonderful place to recharge during this holiday season


If you love our work then tell the world! You have an exciting opportunity to help LOUDOUN WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY make even more of a difference in our community.

GreatNonprofits – a site like Amazon Book Reviews or TripAdvisor – is a website where people can share their stories about nonprofits that have touched their lives.

Won’t you help us raise visibility and support for our work by posting a review of your experience with us? All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and only takes 3 minutes! Go to:

With your help, we can gain greater visibility in the community.


On Nov 19, 11 of us went on a driving & walking bird trip led by Jim McWalters and Mary Ann Good and sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy in northeastern Loudoun County near Lucketts on Limestone School Rd & Hibler Rd. [For more photos visit our Facebook album]

It was a pleasant (no wind) 23 degrees when we met at Temple Hall Farm on Limestone School Rd and almost 50 degrees when we finished at noon at the alpaca farm at the other end of Limestone School Rd where we not only saw a Horned Lark but several sulphur butterflies. 

One of the best sightings of the day was of two coyotes along some back roads as well as the Horned Lark  on Limestone School Rd.

We also had great views of White-crowned Sparrows at a couple of locations and an American Tree Sparrow along Hibler Rd.

Grasshoppers were still out in numbers in the field but were not moving too fast so we got some nice photos and admired their colors and patterns.

We also had a great time checking out a really old oak tree on the property.  First, we stood and looked at it and talked about how grand it was and then, we decided we needed to know how large around it was.

So, our tree hugging participants jumped into action and made a human measuring tape around the tree.  We will need to get a real measuing tape (and those same participants back) to get the measurement but it’s probably a good 20+ feet around.

We also had a good variety of raptors. Many of us saw our first of season Northern Harrier as it harrassed a Turkey Vulture. And, a kestrel sat patiently on a telephone wire as we all got great views from the car.

A complete list of the species seen follows:

39 species
Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Horned Lark, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch