Archive for February, 2012

Spring planting is on the minds of many of us these days, but you want to plant native since you know it helps our whole ecosystem when you do! 

You can search our Gardening for Wildlife Plant list for information on specific plants here or download the whole publication.  The plants listed are native to our area.

Well here’s a great program offered by the Loudoun County Master Gardeners that will help you in your plant choices:

Should I plant this plant? How many times have we thought of this? Is it the wrong one to plant for this space? Is it invasive?

Come to the Loudoun County Master Gardener Lecture Series on Thursday, March 1 at 7:00 pm to hear Carrie Blair, from the Virginia Native Plant Society, talk on the Benefits of Using Native Plants versus non-native invasive plants

Carrie is a Fauquier Master Gardener and a Warren County Master Naturalist. Carrie will help us to understand the importance of using Native Plants.

The location for this program is the Loudoun County Extension Office, 30 Catoctin Circle SE, Suite B, Leesburg, VA 20175.  Lower Level Conference Room.

For more information, visit .


Calling all photographers:

Coming in April is the 5th Annual Claude Moore Photo Expo. 

The theme is Natural Spaces and Old Places — as we have great examples of both of those all around Loudoun!

You can download the Photo Expo flier here for more details.

If you’re not a photographer but enjoy great photographs, mark your calendar for a visit to Claude Moore Park on April 28th for the show.

Then take a great walk around the many nature trails through the property. It’s a great place!


This is a belated posting (my fault but for good reason — I was off in Panama exploring the wild in winter there!).  Jim McWalters did a great writeup from the Discovering the Wild in Winter Walk on February 4th so we wanted to share that with you here:

The overcast skies and seasonable February weather didn’t stop the dozen or so hikers from a exploring the wilds of winter at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES) on Saturday, February 4th.  

Phil Daley offered up his usual charm and quick wit while educating everyone on nature’s wonders that often go un-noticed by the casual observer. Whether it was the Chickadee’s that played in the surrounding woods, the skunk cabbage in the swampy areas, the lone Juniper tree, or the majestic white oak along the path, there was lots to see and discuss. 

The youngest hiker in the group, Allie, was quick to find new and interesting things along the way including the poisonous “Devil’s Tomato” (Horsenettle).  We all got a kick out of the several Mantis nests we saw, including the European Mantis which looked very much like a toasted marshmallow! 

In addition to the Chickadee, we saw: Red Belly Woodpecker, Titmouse, Pileated Woodpeckers, Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, Northern Flicker, Ravens, and a Downy Woodpecker. 

While we didn’t see any wild animals, there was plenty of tell tail signs of deer, rabbit, and raccoon etched in the muddy path.  

With spring just around the corner, the entire group was looking forward to our next outing and the beautiful surprises that nature has to offer at the Blue Ridge Center.


Five hardcore birders came for the monthly birdwalk at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve on February 11th.  The monthly walk is sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and The Friends of Banshee Reeks.  The walk occurs on the second Saturday of every month at 8 a.m. 

The sky was heavy overcast with less than an inch of snow on the ground from over night.  It threatened snow and there were a few snow showers during the walk.  The overcast probably curtailed the vultures, but the hightlight was two AMERICAN WOODCOCKS. 

While not rare they are seldom seen at mid-morning and we flushed a bird in two different locations.  The Preserve closes at 4 p.m. which limits the opportunity to see Woodcocks. 

A total of 37 species were seen which compares well with the history of the past six years.  The complete list follows:

Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Hooded Merganzer, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Woodcock, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird (a flock of nearly 100 females), American Glodfinch

Del Sargent
Friends of Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve


From the Washington Post:

We need to watch for this in our amphibians and reptiles here in Loudoun.


Show your support for pollinators and place an order for a pollinator license plate now: 

100 applications are needed by March 20, 2012 in order to have this plate take off!


On January 28th, 14 of us found 30 species on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s regular bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in northwestern Loudoun County near Harper’s Ferry. 

It was around freezing when we started and warmed up to the low 40′s by the time we finished.  We spent most of our time on the power cut with brief forays into the forest edge.

We got nice looks at two Hermit Thrushes, a Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker & Hairy Woodpecker fighting over a cavity. 

Other highlights included two Fox Sparrows, at least 6 Field Sparrows, no Juncos, a handful of hawks, and two flyover Ravens as we were tallying.  Surprising misses were the lack of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Pileated Woodpeckers.  Nonetheless all in all a nice walk on a pleasant winter 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 as reported to eBird:
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship – MFF01, Loudoun, US-VA
Jan 28, 2012 8:00 AM – 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
30 species
Canada Goose  30,Mallard  18,Hooded Merganser  3,Turkey Vulture  6,Red-shouldered Hawk  2,Red-tailed Hawk  3,American Kestrel  1,Red-bellied Woodpecker,Downy Woodpecker,Hairy Woodpecker  1,Northern Flicker  2,Blue Jay,American Crow,Common Raven  2,Carolina Chickadee,Tufted Titmouse,White-breasted Nuthatch,Brown Creeper  1,Carolina Wren,Golden-crowned Kinglet  3,Eastern Bluebird,Hermit Thrush  1,Northern Mockingbird  3,European Starling,Field Sparrow  6,Fox Sparrow  2,Song Sparrow,White-throated Sparrow,Northern Cardinal  12,American Goldfinch.


For all you bird feeders out there…. this came through from the Maryland Ornithological Society and we wanted to make sure you were all aware. Be sure to buy your bird seed from companies that specialize in bird seed (not pesticides and herbicides):

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has agreed to plead guilty to charges in federal court and pay $4.5 million in fines in two incidents that date to 2008.

That year, the company recalled packages of wild birdseed coated with pesticides that were toxic to birds. Court documents state that, from November 2005 to March 2008, Scotts distributed 73 million units of birdseed coated with insecticides called Storcide II and Actellic 5E. This was done to keep insects from eating the seeds during storage.

Storcide’s label says the pesticide is “extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife.” Documents state that Scotts continued to sell the products despite warnings in the summer and fall of 2007 from a pesticide chemist and an ornithologist, both of whom worked for the company.

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