Archive for January, 2012

Support Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy by Attending the New Environmental Film Series at the Tally Ho Theatre

Join us at the Tally Ho Theatre on Wednesday evening, February 15th, for the award-winning film, “Bag It!”. 

The event starts at 6:30 pm with refreshments and conversation and the film will begin at 7:30 pm. 

By attending the event you will be supporting environmental film in Loudoun County as well as directly funding our local environmental non-profit organizations.  

Tickets to the event will cost $10.00 and all money from the ticket sales will be donated equally to five local environmental nonprofits: Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, Keep Loudoun Beautiful, Sustainable Loudoun, and the Friends of Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve. 

The film series will run monthly from February to June of this year with hopes of starting back up again in the Fall.  

If you can’t make the film, you can send a high school or college student to the films in your place by purchasing tax-deductible tickets online.  Preview the movie and find out more details about the February event at


With the weather yesterday, we had some great views of the Short-eared Owls but our photos just didn’t capture the magic.

Liam McGranaghan was kind enough to send over a few of his photos of this impressive bird from past excursions around the back roads of Loudoun. 

Sharing them with you here for your owling enjoyment:



Yesterday, January 22, was our annual Birds of Prey field trip, and it did not disappoint! Laura McGranaghan wrote up a great account of our day to share with you here:

What a great day to Search for Birds of Prey. Despite the 100% cloud cover, temps in the low 30’s, snow and drizzle, we all had a great afternoon as we drove the back roads of Loudoun county in search of raptors.

Liam McGranaghan led the drive assisted by Laura McGranaghan, Joe Coleman, and Liz Dennison. The 12 participants were treated to a wonderful diversity of wintering Birds of Prey that Loudoun County offers during the winter months.

Our drive began at 1pm with light snow falling. As we headed south from Leesburg on Rt. 15, we couldn’t believe the number of Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks we were seeing. Within the first 6 miles, we had already counted over 8 different hawks!

One of the first of many highlights we had was a pair of Barred Owls tucked into a cedar. They sat quietly until one of them decided we should be offered a better look. He flew to a nearby snag and posed for some photos, then flew off.

Next, we were able to view a pair of adult Bald Eagles working on their nest as they rearranged sticks for some “home renovations.” What a joy!

From there, we turned around and drove to an area north of Leesburg. We stopped at a field being hunted by a few Red-tailed hawks searching for their lunch.

At this point, Liam snuck off to do some “hunting” of his own. He returned shortly thereafter to show us just what the hawks are eating this time of year.

In hand, he had a live and healthy Meadow Vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus. He explained how many of these rodents are in the fields which surrounded us and how they are such a critical food source this time of year for raptors as well as other animals like foxes. He then returned the Meadow Vole (unharmed) to the location he found it.

Next, with hopes of finding a field of Northern Harriers and dare we hope…… Short-eared owls, we headed on! With only a few reports of Northern Harriers this year, and no reports of Short-eared Owls, we weren’t sure what the late afternoon would have in store for us.

Then, there it was…a “Gray Ghost”, the adult male Northern Harrier flying HIGH above us! With excitement building, we continued to travel north to an area rich with tall grasses. Then another Northern Harrier….. then another, wait, another! How exciting and what a way to end the day!

It couldn’t get better than this ~ so we thought. As we were getting ready to leave, that’s when it happened.

Up flew a Short-eared Owl! (You’ve heard this before), then another, wait, another!

All told we had at least 5 Short-eared Owls!

We had great views of them through our spotting scopes as they sat on fence posts in the field in front of us. (Our photos are no comparison to what we saw through the scopes)

Now, that’s the way to end the day.

Here’s the list of raptors seen over the course of our afternoon:

Bald Eagle (adults)  2
Red-tailed Hawk   15
Red-shouldered Hawk  19
Coopers Hawk  2
Northern Harrier  6
Barred Owls  2
Short eared Owls  5
Kestrels 6

More photos can be seen on our facebook page. Thanks to all of you who came out and we look forward to seeing you soon!


Eleven of us showed up for a very pleasant winter bird walk at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve on Saturday morning.  While cold, it was bright & sunny and, most importantly, weather-wise NOT windy. 

Unfortunately the birds didn’t show up as we had only 30 species though we did have great views at a couple of them including a Brown Creeper.
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.

Good birding,
Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co

Canada Goose, Mallard  40, Black Vulture  2, Red-tailed Hawk  1, Ring-billed Gull  6, Rock Pigeon  6, Mourning Dove  2, Red-bellied Woodpecker  1, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1, Downy Woodpecker  4, Hairy Woodpecker  1, Northern Flicker  1, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven  1, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch  1, Brown Creeper  1, Carolina Wren  1, Eastern Bluebird  12, Northern Mockingbird  5, Eastern Towhee  1, Field Sparrow  1, Song Sparrow  4, White-throated Sparrow  25, Dark-eyed Junco  12, Northern Cardinal  6, Red-winged Blackbird  20, American Goldfinch.


Notice of Citizen Nomination of Surface Waters for Water Quality Monitoring
In accordance with §62.1-44.19:5.F of the Code of Virginia, the Water Quality Monitoring Information and Restoration Act, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has developed guidance for requests from the public regarding specific segments that can be nominated for consideration to be included in the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ’s) annual Water Quality Monitoring Plan. 
Any citizen of the Commonwealth who wishes to nominate a water body or stream segment for inclusion in DEQ’s Water Quality Monitoring Plan should refer to the guidance in preparation and submittal of their requests.  All nominations must be received by April 30, 2012 to be considered for the 2013 calendar year.  Copies of the guidance document and nomination form are available online at

In past years (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011), Loudoun Watershed Watch has submitted nominations of new sites for stream monitoring by the state.  Virginia DEQ responded and expanded their monitoring, but only where budgets would allow.  If you would like to suggest additional sites for monitoring, please submit them to and Loudoun Watershed Watch will compile them as our submission.

You can view previous nominations and responses here.  Also, there is a map of candidate sites posted at


Opportunity for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Members

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is once again offering two scholarships to Vesuvius Adult Nature Camp in Rockbridge County, VA. Nature Camp will be held from June 8-12, 2012.

Interested individuals must: 1)be 18 years of age or older, 2)current LWC members, 3)submit a short description (1 page or less) of why you would like to attend, and 4)be willing to share your experiences from camp with others upon your return.

Interested? Submit your written request to Paul Miller at 38712 Rickard Road, Lovettsville, VA 20180 by April 15, 2012.

Members of the LWC Environmental Education Committee will review all submissions and select two for scholarships. For additional information call Paul Miller at (540)882-3112.


Here’s a nice event coming up:

Loudoun Community Garden Forum

Saturday Feb 4, 2012  10:30am – 12:30pm

Ashburn Library,  43316 Hay Road

Who should attend:  those who are starting,  are interested in starting,  or have already started a Community Garden in Loudoun County.

Sponsored by the Loudoun County Master Gardeners  Garden to Table team, whose mission is to help Loudouners grow their own produce and to increase awareness of the value of fresh, local, healthy food.

In addition to brief presentations by Master Gardeners,  attendees may look forward to opportunities to learn from and network with other local Community Gardeners.   Bring your questions and your wisdom to share on gardening topics as well as issues of administration and fundraising.  

Time will be devoted for community gardeners to ask questions not only of Master Gardeners but of other community garden members who have been in the dirt.    There will be light refreshments and door prizes!

To RSVP your interest in attending, send your name and phone number to   

For general information about the Forum,  about the Garden to Table team or for general gardening questions,  please contact the LCMG Help Desk at or by phone at 703.771.5150.


Indeed!  Come out for this free program and learn all about butterflies, what they’re doing now, how they hibernate and more!

Butterflies in Winter

Sunday, January 15, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Registration Required but the program is free.

Location: Rust Library in Leesburg. 

Did you leave your garden a little “messy” at the end of the season? Well, hidden in old flower stems or tucked away in a hibernaculum, an egg or caterpillar may be waiting out the chill.

And what about the adults? Well – there just may be butterflies in that leaf pile!

Where do butterflies go in the winter? How do they hibernate? In what form?  How does a miniscule egg form into a beautiful creature of flight?  Can you raise butterfly eggs to adulthood for release? 

Nicole Hamilton will answer all of these questions, show you some overwintering chrysalids and more! Learn how you can help butterfly populations and encourage butterflies to over-winter in your very own backyard.

For those interested, following the program, we’ll walk around the habitat restoration area and see what signs of butterflies we can find.

This free program is sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. Sign up online. For questions, contact Nicole Hamilton at