Archive for April, 2012

Ten birders participated in the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s regular monthly (every 4th Sat.) walk at the Blue Ridge Center yesterday. It was a great day to spend birding and taking a long walk to do so.

Most of our time was spent birding the southern portion of the Blue Ridge Center where we walked approx. three miles and all the way into Gordon Pond by way of Butterfly Alley and the Wood Thrush trails and returning by the Sweet Run Loop.

Highlights of the 53 species included great views of three different very vocal male Blue-winged Warblers, a lifer for several people, six Scarlet Tanagers (5 singing males, two of which were well-seen, and one female), at least eight Eastern Towhees, two Grasshopper Sparrows, great looks at several singing White-eyed Vireos, 17 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (six in one location), flyovers of a Woodcock right over our heads and a loose flock of seven Common Loons, as well as an Osprey hunting Gordon Pond deep in the forest interior. A short drive on Arnold Rd after the walk allowed me to add a couple more common species to the list.

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 at the Blue Ridge Center as reported to eBird:
53 species
Canada Goose, Common Loon 7, Great Blue Heron 6, Turkey Vulture 1, Osprey 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, American Kestrel 1, American Woodcock 1, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 1, White-eyed Vireo 6, Red-eyed Vireo 3, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren 2, House Wren 2, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 17, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3 Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird 1, Northern Mockingbird 1, European Starling, Ovenbird 4, Louisiana Waterthrush 3, Blue-winged Warbler 3, Common Yellowthroat 3, American Redstart 1, Northern Parula 2, Yellow-rumped Warbler 2, Eastern Towhee 8, Chipping Sparrow 4, Field Sparrow 4, Grasshopper Sparrow 2, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow 2, White-throated Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager 6, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird 3, Eastern Meadowlark 1, Common Grackle, American Goldfinch.


On Thursday April 26, Take Your Child to Work Day, Phil Daley, representing Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, conducted three nature walks around and thru AOL’s Loudoun campus.

There were sightings of several species of birds, two green herons, and several muskrats. Phil identified numerous trees and plants native to our area.

AOL has developed their storm water holding pond and its surrounding area into a very attractive habitat for local wildlife with walking paths for employees.

A butterfly garden has been planted and the benefits should be noticed this summer.

Although AOL entertained over 300 children Thursday more than fifty parents and children took advantage of the walks.

Before leaving the campus a number of AOL employees accompanied by their children were seen back at the area for a personal and individual experience.

See a few more photos from the day on our facebook page.


Who is on your team? Linda Millington, Emily Southgate, Christine Perdue

What day are you doing your birdathon? Friday, May 11th

What time will you start and end? We have not decided, but we will be leading an LWC sponsored IMBD walk at Camp Highroad in Middelburg, VA starting at 8 AM.

How many species to you hope to get? We are hoping for at least 80.

How much money do you hope to raise as a team? Hard to say but we’ve got some loyal donors – family members!

What bird(s) are you stretching to get this year? Not sure if we are stretching, but we hope to get lots of warblers at Camp Highroad including Prairie, Black and White, and Yellow Warblers. Last year we found a Blackburnian! Also, Northern Parulas, Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbirds, and Common Yellowthroats.

We should get all the woodpeckers; Barred Owl; White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo; and both orioles. Also, kingfishers, Great Blue Heron, and Bank Swallows along the creek.

We are also hoping for Woodcock, Blue-winged Warblers, and Wild Turkey at the Institute Farm in Aldie where we plan to go after our IMBD walk.

How long has your team been doing this? Not long – we are newcomers to the Bird-a-thon this year! However, we’ve been doing Christmas Bird Counts, IMBD walks, Loudoun County Breeding Bird Atlas surveys, and LWC field trips for years.

Do you have different roles on your team? If so, what are they? (e.g. spotters, ear birders, etc) We will find out!

What’s the best part of the birdathon? Just being out in the woods and in the fields amidst those extraordinary creatures – birds!

What’s the toughest part of the day? Fending off the ticks!

Why do you/members of your team do the birdathon? We’re big supporters of LWC and we love birding! We’ve all been avid birders since our childhoods.

What do you do in preparation for the count?  Loading up on coffee, insect repellent, and sunscreen!

Anything else you want to add about the birdathon? Come along on our walk at Camp Highroad and see some birds!

You can make a pledge and support the Tweeters here.


Last week, Jason Rufner interviewed Joe Coleman on the relationship between Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Dulles Greenway.

Read Jason’s article below:

When the Dulles Greenway was being constructed and introduced back in the mid-1990s, it brought the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy along with it.

While there exists no direct causation between the Greenway’s building and the LWC’s founding, both began serving Loudoun around the same time and immediately struck up an evolving relationship where economy meets ecology.

“The Greenway has partnered with us since the mid-’90s.  We’re linked to the Dulles Greenway in just about every single way,” said Joe Coleman, co-founder and current president of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC), a small all-volunteer non-profit established in 1995 whose stated mission is to help Loudoun’s wildlife habitats survive and thrive.

The same expansive development of office parks, data centers and single-family homes that made the Dulles Greenway’s course viable also made the LWC’s efforts necessary.  Acres of vital wetlands, native meadows and natural green spaces lost to concrete and steel needed replacing, and Loudoun’s remaining beauty needed protecting.

Right away, the Conservancy and the Greenway found common ground … literally.  The 200-acre Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project, also known as the Dulles Wetlands, was begun by the Dulles Greenway during its construction to allay the loss of habitable land to the Greenway itself.  The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has since taken upon itself to assist the Greenway in stewardship of the Wetlands, covering territory along both sides of the Goose Creek in the Potomac River’s watershed.

Though artificial, the large swath of undeveloped land looks and feels entirely natural, and is the site of frequent and regular LWC-led excursions to observe the Wetlands’ residents — otters, frogs, deer, fox, fish, reptiles, insects and a seemingly endless variety of birds — for educational and scientific benefit.

“The Greenway has been a tremendous steward of their wetlands,” Coleman said before launching into details about guided walks and educational programs the LWC holds in the Wetlands as they show off the dragonflies and warblers.

Doing useful science and restoring usable habitat are two functions of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.  Two others are educating Loudoun’s human residents and advocating for Loudoun’s non-human ones.  All four of these goals are continually achieved partly due to the Greenway’s annual financial contribution through the Drive For Charity, held this year on May 17.

The Conservancy has enjoyed a significant donation coming from the Greenway’s Drive For Charity in each of the campaign’s seven years.

“The money that comes to us from the Drive For Charity helps underwrite all the programs that we do,” said Coleman, noting his organization’s extremely low overhead costs. “It goes a real long way. You can do a lot of programs and projects with that.”

Though nearly every program offered by the LWC is free to the public, costs are involved in bringing in guest lecturers, conducting scientific monitoring, treating kids to field trips, planting new trees and restoring wildlife habitat to health.

Coleman, a Loudouner for almost 20 years and a Northern Virginian for much longer, is quick to point out that his is an organization “of treehuggers, not extremists.”  Societal development, he says, is inevitable and beneficial — so long as the natural environment that permits society’s existence is preserved and cherished.

“Plus we find that [land] developers really do value open green space,” Coleman pointed out. “They market it as a selling feature. We’re just trying to help make sure that those spaces are as healthy for wildlife as possible. We can all be good stewards of our land and our wildlife.”

Coleman delights in telling of the vibrant natural places that flourish in Loudoun County, even the highly developed eastern side.  Birds nest in Algonkian Regional Park.  Wildlife abounds in the Horsepen Preserve.  Blue heron make homes in their own rookery along the Broad Run.

“People want to learn how they can have wildlife as neighbors without fearing it,” he said.

The greatest, gravest threat to wildlife in Loudoun or anywhere, according to Coleman, is the loss of its habitat.  Once the home of a beaver or blue heron or butterfly or box turtle is destroyed, it stays destroyed, not to return.  Then the wildlife has to find someplace else to live wild, somewhere else to forage, hunt, shelter and breed — often unsuccessfully.  Then the wildlife dies, not to return.

As the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Dulles Greenway continue to go green together, a culture of life is being maintained which keeps Loudoun beautiful and vital for generations (of all species) to come.


Here’s a nice program coming up on Baltimore Checkerspots and Giant Swallowtails. 

We may want to see about restoring habitat and planting host plants for these two butterflies here in Loudoun. Baltimore Checkerspots were originally found in Loudoun but not for many moons and Giant Swallowtails do show up from time to time but are pretty rare.

Here’s the information on the program and field trip offered by Dick Smith and the Washington Area Butterfly Club:

Please mark your calendar for an all-day butterfly program at Black Hill Regional Park and Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (both in Montgomery Co., MD) on Sunday, April 29, 2012. This event is being organized by the Washington Area Butterfly Club (WABC)1 and hosted by Black Hill RP.
The following activities are planned for the day:

* 10:00 – arrive at Black Hill Visitor’s Center (BHVC). Coffee, tea, muffins, and bagels will be available during a pre-lecture social.

* 10:30 – Barbara Kreiley will present a slide show/lecture on the center’s ongoing Baltimore Checkerspot rearing and local experimental introduction program.

* After the lecture – Break for discussion and reassemble for carpool/caravan to tour the Checkerspot rearing area

* Tour of rearing tents and turtlehead propagation areas; time for Q

* After the tour – If any members would like to buy native butterfly plants from the plants sale, this would be a good time to do so, before the public is let in.

* Return to BHVC, eat lunch at picnic tables or benches, or at any available picnic shelter (not in building since it will be open). (Please bring your lunch, as lunch will not be provided for this event.)

* Carpool and caravan to nearby Hoyle’s Mill Conservation Park and hunt for Giant Swallowtails and a variety of other butterfly species here (Giants are resident at Holyles Mill and will be flying in late April) – Dick Smith and other WABC members will lead this event. (Many native butterfly hostplants at the park will also be pointed out, including Northern Prickly-ash, the larval host of the Giant Swallowtail.) (If overcast or raining on April 29, this event will be re-scheduled. A raindate has not been set at present.)

The program is free, as fees will be covered by the WABC. (But contributions to the Black Hill Regional Park butterfly conservation programs will be welcome.)

However, PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED (also respond as to desired means of transportation and availability to drive in a carpool (see below), and whether you are interested in the Hoyles Mill activity (to contact you in case of bad weather and a need to reschedule this event)). (Lecture room attendance at BHVC is limited to 45 people. Later events are not limited.)

To pre-register, return an e-mail (preferred response) to Dick Smith at<> , or call at (240) 228-4973 (office, weekdays) or (410) 997-7439 (home, afterhours and weekends).

Northern Virginian and well as DC and Maryland suburban residents are encouraged to attend; transportation will be facilitated by carpool* arrangements and caravans to Black Hill VC.

*Carpool congregation areas near I-495 in both Northern Virginia and Montgomery Count, and near Columbia, MD, are being planned for early-morning on April 29 to facilitate your trip to this butterfly program (details on this will be distributed about a week before the event). Please include in your response your desired means of transportation to the program and whether you will be available to be a driver in the carpool.

1 Background information and discussions of other programs and activities sponsored by the Washington Area Butterfly Club (WABC), as well as information on how to join the WABC, are available at

Dick Smith
WABC Board Member


Who is on your team? Rocky Fera, Paul Miller, Phil Daley – note: we are soliciting possible assistance from two other elderly, but distinguished , qualified grumps.

What day are you doing your birdathon?  Tuesday May 8th-rain date: Wednesday May 9th. Start at 5:00 am—end: Whenever we run out of gas (not necessarily petrol)

How many species to you hope to get?  We hope for 80-90 species (We do not aim too high, as, at our ages, we do not want to shock our systems—or embarrass the youngsters)

How much money do you hope to raise as a team? $400-$800-(see # 3 above)

What bird(s) are you stretching to get this year? All/any we find

How long has your team been doing this? Too long

Do you have different roles on your team? If so, what are they? (e.g. spotters, ear birders, etc)  No, but we do try to have the designated driver keep his eyes on the road—at least until we see a bird.

What’s the best part of the birdathon? The end

What’s the toughest part of the day? Getting up in the morning of the Bird-a-thon—-and the next day too.

Why do you/members of your team do the birdathon?  For FUN!

What do you do in preparation for the count?  Answer this questionnaire

What place do you most look forward to birding during the birdathon and why?  Loudoun County-Does anyone have any suggestions for some good places??

Anything else you want to add about the birdathon? Let’s everyone get out there and have some fun-or be a sponsor.

You can make a pledge and support the Grumpy Old Men here.


This coming Saturday is the 5th Annual Claude Moore Photo Expo!

The Raptor Conservancy will be there with hawks and owls, and you can see the wonderful photos taken by local photographs of the rich natural spaces across our county.

Claude Moore Park has wonderful nature trails as well as picnic areas, so you can bring the family and make a day of it!

The photo expo goes from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You can download the flier here.


Who is on your team? Nicole Hamilton and Joanne Bradbury

What day are you doing your birdathon?  May 8th, starting at 7:30 am.  There’s so much going on this week with International Migratory Bird Day that we decided to take advantage of the IMBD walk at Algonkian Park with Bill and start our big birding day there. 

How many species to you hope to get?  We’re shooting for 65-70 species

How much money do you hope to raise as a team? $500, we can use all the encouragement from friends and family we can get so we hope you all will sponsor us!

How long has your team been doing this? This is our first year doing it together

Do you have different roles on your team?  Given that there are just the two of us, we’ll both be spotting and identifying everything we can find

What’s the best part of the birdathon? Being out there with friends, figuring out the identification of some of the less common birds and seeing all the new arrivals making their great migration and using Loudoun either as a stopover in their journey or their breeding grounds

What’s the toughest part of the day? The afternoon when the birds settle down for their siesta

Why do you/members of your team do the birdathon?  Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is such an important resource for the community and birding for Loudoun is a lot of fun. Plus, we love getting outside to explore nature – it’s rejuvenating.

What do you do in preparation for the count?  We’re going over the bird list, looking at the target species and thinking about locations in Loudoun that we’ll need to go to find them on our Big Day

What place do you most look forward to birding during the birdathon and why?  All the places we’re going to visit are amazing.  The spots near the river like Algonkian and Bles and Balls Bluff are pretty birdy so those will be great but the Blue Ridge Center offers great woods and fields for different species that we may not see elsewhere

Anything else you want to add about the birdathon? We hope more people will join in on the fun this year. The birdathon is especially fun because it’s all what you make it – it can be a casual day (or a few hours) or serious all-day birding, or anything in between. It’s for all experience levels, and a great way to make sure you get outside with friends to enjoy this wonderful springtime.

You can make a pledge and support the Raucous Robins here.


Who is on your Birdathon team?  Do you have different roles on your team? Bruce Hill (missing from the pic), Gerco Hoogeweg, Larry Meade, Donna Quinn.

Donna is the Designated Driver who somehow manages to stay on the road even while looking for birds through the sunroof. Special talents include making abrupt U-turns while eating a snack and drinking tea.

Gerco is Birder Extraordinaire and also has the sacred role of Keeping the List.

Larry usually finds One More Bird which has made all the difference.

And Bruce, well Bruce can hear a bird from the car going 45 miles an hour. He is our Location Expert and knows every nook and cranny we might find a bird and what that bird is.

When are you doing your birdathon?  Saturday, May 5, rain date May 6. We usually start around 4:30 AM and bird until 8:30 PM or so.

How many species to you hope to get?  Two years ago, Mary Ann Good put together a list of the birds seen by all the teams in the Birdathon. Combined, we found 125 species. Raven Loonatics would like to find as many as we possibly can – 125 would be nice. We always hope to beat our number from the previous year so this year we will hope to count at least 110 species.

How much money do you hope to raise as a team?  We are so grateful to all Birdathon sponsors for their generosity and support. It would be fantastic if the teams could collectively raise $10,000 for the birds!

What bird(s) are you stretching to get this year?  We always make extra effort for Loggerhead Shrike and Red-headed Woodpeckers as they are hard for us to find in the eastern part of the county.

We like to get our namesakes, ravens and loons. We always hope to see as many owl species as possible, just because it’s so cool to see owls.

How long has your team been doing this?  This will be our 3rd year.

What’s the best part of the birdathon?  Running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Being together – birds of a feather…

What’s the toughest part of the day?  Listening to Larry’s puns such as, “Remember, never eat a bittern. It will leave a bittern taste in your mouth!”. Watching Gerco eat Cheetos. Imaging the pain tall Bruce must experience sitting in my small car all day. Being a female with three males and roughing it without a bathroom all day. Around 2 pm the ’Loonies’ hit us – we begin to hallucinate we won’t see another bird for the rest of the day. They pass when we (finally) see a new bird species.

Why do you/members of your team do the birdathon?  We love birds and want to protect bird habitat in Loudoun County.

What do you do in preparation for the count?  The Birdathon gives us a good excuse to go birding, ‘We HAVE to go birding because the Birdathon is in (x) weeks!’

What place do you most look forward to birding during the birdathon and why?  Seeing the sunrise over the Potomac is a very special way to start our day. In the past we’ve finished the day at the Dulles Wetlands which is a peaceful and beautiful place to end our day – and usually provides a couple more birds for The List.

You can make a pledge and support the Raven Loonatics here.


Who is on your Birdathon team?   Spring, McKenzie (age 5), and Addison (age 2) Ligi

What day are you doing your birdathon?  Thursday, May 10th, we’ll do it from approximately 9:00 – 10:30 am

How many species to you hope to get?  20-25 species

How much money do you hope to raise as a team?  $250

What bird(s) are you stretching to get this year?  A Great Blue Heron because this bird reminds the girls of dinosaurs, which they love

How long has your team been doing this?  This will be our fourth year. We started in 2009 when McKenzie was 2 and I was very big and pregnant with Addison

Do you have different roles on your team? The girls are the spotters. They spot all kinds of things…worms, sticks, ponds, and occasionally birds.  We try to identify the birds together using our children’s bird guides.

What’s the best part of the birdathon? Experiencing the joys of nature with my girls – watching their faces light up as they spot a bird or correctly identify it

What’s the toughest part of the day?  Keeping the girls from jumping into the pond while I’m watching a bird :0)

Why do you/members of your team do the birdathon? To share my passion for birding and the great outdoors with my girls and raise money to protect important wildlife habitat

What do you do in preparation for the count?  We watch the birds in our backyard and try to identify them using our field guides. We also line up Grandma and Grandpa to provide back up on our big day. They’re great at keeping the girls from jumping into the pond and poking each other with sticks while I take a moment to identify the trickier birds.

What place do you most look forward to birding during the birdathon and why?  The Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg – it’s a beautiful place with a kid-friendly path for hiking through different habitats and observing different birds

You can make a pledge and support the Ligi Nestlings here.