Archive for May, 2012

Dave Thomas and Ian Richardson have been keeping a good watch over the Red-Shouldered Hawks nesting in a tree at Leisure World. Between the two of them (and some “big guns” as they say in the photography community), they’ve caught some terrific photos of these three young birds as they grow up.

Here you can see shots from May 11th and May 25th to compare their size and development.

In one ofthe photos, Dave tells us, “one is moving an evergreen twig, which I suspect is part of learning how to build a nest.  The other standing hawk joined in the activity.”



On a warm & very humid morning 25 people found a total of 73 species on a joint Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy/Northern Virginia Bird Club walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. 

We split into two groups, one led by Larry Meade, primarily birding the fields around the Education Annex, and the other group, led by Gerco Hoogeweg & Joe Coleman, covering the powercut and the dense forest on the southern part of the center at the end of Sawmill & Arnold Rd.  While both groups observed many of the same species splitting up proved worthwhile.

The highlights of the two walks included 10 dif. warbler species including Cerulean, Blue-winged, Worm-eating, 7 Louisiana, 5 Kentucky, Chats, and lots of Ovenbirds. 

Other highlights included 7 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, a Broad-winged Hawk, White-eyed & Yellow-throated Vireos, Grasshopper Sparrows, and both oriole species.We also found many butterflies in a variety of locations.

Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at   Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Northern Virginia Bird Club and their many free activities can be found at & and

The complete list of sightings follows: Canada Goose  2, Wild Turkey  1, Great Blue Heron  3, Black Vulture  5, Turkey Vulture  22, Bald Eagle  1, Red-shouldered Hawk  1, Broad-winged Hawk  1, Red-tailed Hawk  4, Killdeer  1, Rock Pigeon 1, Mourning Dove  8, Yellow-billed Cuckoo  7, Chimney Swift  6, Ruby-throated Hummingbird  4, Red-bellied Woodpecker  13, Downy Woodpecker  2, Hairy Woodpecker  1, Northern Flicker  1, Pileated Woodpecker  3, Eastern Wood-Pewee  8, Acadian Flycatcher  6, Eastern Phoebe  4, Great Crested Flycatcher  4, Eastern Kingbird  6, White-eyed Vireo  8, Yellow-throated Vireo  3, Red-eyed Vireo  14, Blue Jay  2, American Crow  30, Purple Martin  2, Tree Swallow  14, Barn Swallow  12, Carolina Chickadee  5, Tufted Titmouse  3, White-breasted Nuthatch  3, Carolina Wren  1, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  11, Eastern Bluebird  20, Wood Thrush  4, American Robin  3, Gray Catbird  1, Northern Mockingbird  3, Brown Thrasher  1, European Starling  35, Cedar Waxwing  15, Ovenbird  13, Worm-eating Warbler  2, Louisiana Waterthrush  7, Blue-winged Warbler  4, Kentucky Warbler  5, Common Yellowthroat  8, American Redstart  1, Cerulean Warbler  4, Northern Parula  3, Yellow-breasted Chat  2, Eastern Towhee  8, Chipping Sparrow  10, Field Sparrow  25, Grasshopper Sparrow  2, Song Sparrow  1, Scarlet Tanager  5, Northern Cardinal  20, Indigo Bunting  19, Red-winged Blackbird  1, Eastern Meadowlark  3, Common Grackle  2, Brown-headed Cowbird  5, Orchard Oriole  2, Baltimore Oriole  4, House Finch  4, American Goldfinch  25, House Sparrow  1.


The Banshee Reeks Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is accepting applications for our annual Saturday training program that begins in September 2012. The program supports a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the management of natural resources and natural areas within communities. A nine-month course is offered for anyone interested in obtaining certification as a Virginia Master Naturalist. The training covers topics in biogeography, botany, ecology, geology, mammalogy, herpetology, ornithology, dendrology, forest and wetlands ecology, zoology, management and conservation of ecological systems. For the State Program, visit

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, located at 21085 The Woods Road, Leesburg, VA, provides the perfect setting for the course with its education center and over 700 acres of forests, fields, ponds and streams in which to conduct field studies, advanced training and volunteer service projects. The course is open to anyone 18 years or older. The total cost is $200, which includes all class materials. The deadline for applications is September 1, 2012. Class size is limited to 20 students. For course schedule and application, visit


Upcoming Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO) Foray looking for volunteer birders

Every year the Virginia Society of Ornithology conducts a foray (survey) of the birds within a county of Virginia.  This year, they will conduct the foray right here in Loudoun County to assist with the 2009-2013 Loudoun County Bird Atlas by surveying areas that need more coverage. The foray will be held from June 9, 2012 to June 17, 2012.

For those who have never participated in a bird atlas, it could seem overwhelming, but it could also be a great learning opportunity and a new way to use one’s knowledge of birds. The atlas website set-up by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy provides a lot of information about the protocols required to complete the atlas.

The website address is: After going to the website, scroll down to the heading “Resources for Bird Atlas Volunteers”. Under this heading, one can select the “Atlasing in a Nutshell” document or field cards used to collect data.  

The documentation of species seen during the atlas is slightly different from the typical VSO foray or a Christmas Bird Count. For example, rather than noting the number of individuals for each species observed, the behavior, especially that indicating nesting, of each species is noted on a field card.

Atlas blocks to be covered during the foray will be assigned to participants, but input from participants regarding which areas they prefer to cover will also be used to determine assigned blocks.

Any amount of help with the foray is appreciated, whether it is half a day or the whole foray period (or anything in between).

If interested in helping with the foray this year or if there are any questions, please contact Elisa Enders at or Spring Ligi at as soon as possible.  Thank you!


Terry Hoffman from the Dulles Greenway just sent over the results from the Drive for Charity that took place on the 17th:


A new record for local charities: $261,652

May 18, 2012 – Sterling, VA – The Dulles Greenway’s 7th annual Drive For Charity has set a new record for donations with an amazing $261,652 collected on Thursday, May 17, 2012. As always, this money will be donated to great local charities and a local scholarship program.

“The Drive for Charity is always a fantastic event and this year has been unbelievable,” said Terry Hoffman, Public & Customer Relations Manager of the Dulles Greenway. “The commitment Dulles Greenway drivers have to our charity partners are making a real difference in people’s lives. We are proud to be a small part of making Loudoun County a better place.”

Quick Facts about the 2012 Drive for Charity:

Thursday, May 17, 2012 was our highest traffic day in the past 2 years

In seven years, the Dulles Greenway has now raised $1,528,462 for local charities and scholarships.

Recipients for 2012 include:

March of Dimes

Every Citizen Has Opportunity (ECHO)

Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS)

Fresh Air/Full Care

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Dulles Greenway Scholarship Program

The Dulles Greenway is a privately owned 14-mile toll road that connects Washington Dulles International Airport with Leesburg, Virginia. Since the Dulles Greenway’s dedication on September 29th 1995, commuters have enjoyed a non-stop alternative to Routes 7 and 28. The Greenway project represents a new paradigm for cooperation between the public and private sectors for resolving infrastructure issues.

If you have additional questions or need further comment, please contact Terry Hoffman via email at or via phone at 703-668-0033.


The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship is one of Loudoun’s Great Places!  If you haven’t been there before then you need to come out for a visit this Sunday. If you already know the marvelous attributes (historic and wild) that BRCES has to offer, come out and enjoy them, be with friends and celebrate this great place!

Below is the invitation and more information for this fun get together!

Join us for a fun-filled day “Between the Hills” at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. We are holding a free Open House to become better acquainted with our friends and neighbors and to showcase the Blue Ridge Center – a place where nature, history and farming converge to reveal connections between people and the natural world.

The Open House on Sunday, May 20 will feature:

  • a complimentary picnic featuring “pulled pig” and vegetarian options
  • live Ethno-Appalachian roots music (2 – 4 pm) by Fiddlin’ Dave and Morgan of the well-known local group Furnace Mountain
  • tours of a carefully restored 1840s farmhouse and other Civil War-era structures
  • naturalist-led interpretive walks for adults and kids on some of our 11-mile trail network
  • tours of Mountain View Farm including animal feedings and explanations of organic farming techniques
  • games for children and families

The free Open House will take place Sunday, May 20 from 1 – 5 pm, rain or shine. The Blue Ridge Center is located at 11661 Harpers Ferry Road, Purcellville, VA (our entrance is just north of the Neersville Fire Department).

Visit our website at or email for more information. RSVPs are not required, but much appreciated!


Back in the 1920s, the 55th governor of Virginia, Westmoreland Davis, would open the grounds of his Morven Park home to invite the community to informal ice cream socials. The public is invited to recreate these community-building events at Morven Park’s second annual Governor’s Country Fair, Sunday, June 10, at noon to 5 p.m.

While Gov. Davis served ice cream made of the cream from his prized dairy cows, this year’s ice cream social will be provided by family-owned and operated Moo Thru of Remington, Va.

For $20 ($15 in advance) per carload of ice cream fans (and who doesn’t fall into that category?), guests will be treated not only to this special frozen treat but to hayrides, live music, horse-drawn carriage driving demonstrations, craft and food vendors, sheep shearing demonstrations, baking contests, and a day-in-the-country atmosphere.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy will be there leading nature walks to explore the great wild places of Morven. We will also have our booth set up, naturalists on-hand to help answer your wildlife and other nature questions, and fun hands on activities for kids of all ages. You can also pick up our free materials like the Gardening for Wildlife Plant List, current and past issues of the Habitat Herald with all sorts of wildlife and plant information, checklists of Loudoun’s butterfly, bird and dragonfly species, and information about our different environmental monitoring programs. For the kids, you can pick up our wildlife coloring book, filled with information on our local species, as well as our Crossword puzzle book.

Mom’s Apple Pies of Leesburg is sponsoring a pie/cookie/cupcake bake-off, and Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, in residence at Morven Park since 1995, will demonstrate its superstar therapy horses. Members of the Loudoun County 4H Club’s “Leaps & Squeaks” group will have bunnies and guinea pigs available for petting. Local equestrians will demonstrate dressage, show jumping, and cross-country riding techniques.

Numerous other contests, exhibits, and demonstrations will take place throughout the afternoon.

Guests should access the Governor’s Country Fair via the Waterford Road entrance.

Morven Park, a non-profit organization, is operated by the Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation and receives no federal, state or local funding. Its mission is to preserve and advance the ideals of Gov. Davis, most notably civic responsibility, sustainable agriculture, and enhancement of life in rural Virginia. Its 1,200 acres include three museums, an equestrian center, athletic fields, hiking trails, and formal gardens, all of which serve as host to a variety of educational and recreational programs.

To learn more, go to


Bird-a-thon news from the Tweeters – Christine Perdue, Linda Millington, and Emily Southgate

We began our bird-a-thon on May 11th, a spectacularly beautiful day, by leading an LWC sponsored IMBD walk at Camp Highroad in western Loudoun County.

During the walk, we spotted Cerulean Warblers and Black-throated Blue Warblers on a wooded slope above Goose Creek; watched a distraction display by an Ovenbird which gave everyone close-up views; witnessed an unexpected fly-over by an Osprey; and discovered Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers feeding their chicks in a nest on a lofty branch in a tall sycamore by the pond where a Green Heron stood on the shoreline.

Our fifty-one species included Pine Warblers, Prairie Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, American Redstarts, Indigo Buntings, Northern Parulas, Eastern Wood Pewees, and Wood Thrush.

After the walk, we drove along Beaver Dam Bridge Road where a Barred Owl called, Eastern Meadowlarks perched on farm fences, and Common Yellowthroats skulked in hedge rows. Rough-winged Swallows swooped above a stone bridge across a creek. Then, we paused for lunch in Christine’s beautiful garden where we were joined by the usual feeder birds and serenaded by House Wrens all around.

After lunch, we traversed roads near Mountville. Along Pot House Road, near a small pond, we saw a bird on the ground which looked in the distance like a Brown Thrasher with no tail, and realized that it was a Veery! Emily was also side-swiped by a Pileated Woodpecker at this stop.

A Broad-winged Hawk soared near Frances Mill Road. We added Orchard Orioles, Savannah Sparrows, and Song Sparrows. Then, it was on to the National Beagle Club near Aldie where Yellow-breasted Chats, Eastern Towhees, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Ovenbirds sounded off in the dense foliage. It took a while, but we tracked down a chat, and as always, it was a thrill to see this gorgeous bird.

From there, we crossed the road to Mt. Pleasant farm with its beautiful red barn, home to countless Barn Swallows swirling above our heads. In a tall willow, we found a Warbling Vireo and stood underneath listening to its lovely song. We circled the pond where Red-winged Blackbirds flashed their red epaulets and a Baltimore Oriole sang from a tree top, his bright orange breast gleaming in the sunlight. All day, everyplace we went, we found Gray Catbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, and Chipping Sparrows in abundance.

We found a few great species near our respective homes. A Red-headed Woodpecker adorned a branch near Christine’s. At Emily’s, a female Wood Duck with three ducklings glided across a tiny pond, and a Killdeer performed her broken wing display near her nest in the coarse sand of a horse ring. Not too far from Linda’s house, we found our last bird of the day, a Solitary Sandpiper on a pond on Piney Swamp Road.

We had a great day. In the twelve hours we birded, we spent almost seven hours walking the back roads, paths, and trails in the forests, farms, and fields of Loudoun County. We ended our day with 77 species.

Thank you to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy for supporting efforts that preserve and protect our beautiful habitat and ensure a future for many more bird-a-thons!


Sharon Kearns just sent over the field report from the IMBD walk at Morven Park – nice sightings! From Sharon:

Friday May 11th was a beautiful albeit windy day for an IMBD walk in the area of Morven Park. Mary Ann Good, Sally Snidow, Sidney Lissner and Sharon Kearns enjoyed checking out the pond at the corner of Fairview and Old Waterford Rd. We had excellent looks at two Solitary Sandpipers and a Spotted Sandpiper as well as a Great Egret that decided to land for a quick stop.

Since the woods in the ridge at the back of Morven Park have been productive we headed there and on the way found Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanager, and Black-Throated Green Warblers among many other birds. Phoebe Fledglings were prevalent.

As we walked up to the ridge to look for more warblers the wind had picked up to 20+mph so for safety’s sake we nixed walking along the wooded ridge. We birded woods in a lower area and then walked/drove the road around the mansion area, entrance.

The full list of species seen follows:
Canada Goose 7, Mallard 2, Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Egret 1, Green Heron 1, Turkey Vulture 4, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Solitary Sandpiper 2, Mourning Dove 8, Chimney Swift 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 3, Downy Woodpecker 1, Hairy Woodpecker 1,  Northern Flicker 3, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Eastern Wood-Pewee 5, Acadian Flycatcher 2, Eastern Phoebe 6, Great Crested Flycatcher 2, Eastern Kingbird 1, Yellow-throated Vireo 1, Red-eyed Vireo 5, Blue Jay 5, crow sp. 2, Tree Swallow 8, Carolina Chickadee 2, Tufted Titmouse 6, White-breasted Nuthatch 3, Carolina Wren 1, House Wren 2 Nesting, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2, Eastern Bluebird 9, Wood Thrush 2, American Robin 12, Gray Catbird 1, Northern Mockingbird 4, Brown Thrasher 2, European Starling 16, Cedar Waxwing 12, Ovenbird 2, Louisiana Waterthrush 2, Northern Parula 4, Yellow-rumped Warbler 4, Black-throated Green Warbler 2Field Sparrow 1, Scarlet Tanager 2, Northern Cardinal 5Red-winged Blackbird 8, Common Grackle 5, Baltimore Oriole 2, American Goldfinch 2


Joe Coleman sent over this great report from the May 12th IMBD Bird Walk.  What great wildlife encounters!  From Joe:

We found 68 species during the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s International Migratory Bird Day walk at the Blue Ridge Center on Saturday, May 12.

The highlights of the walk included 3 Red-headed Woodpeckers, 14 warbler species including three different Ceruleans (two in the same area as they were on the 5th), a Northern Waterthrush, a Blue-winged, at least 4 Kentucky Warblers, a Cape May, a Worm-eating, two Ovenbirds doing a distraction display, a Swainson’s Thrush, White-eye & Yellow-throated Vireos, several Grasshopper Sparrows, a Blue Grosbeak about a mile away from the one we found on May 5, and two Wild Turkeys.

One of the Red-headed WP landed on a snag next to the Education Annex and the other two were declaring territory around the field at the end of Sawmill (the same place we had one on May 5), about a mile away from the first. While Red-headed WPs are common in southwestern Loudoun County we rarely find them on the Blue Ridge Center.

The distraction display was fascinating as we were walking along a trail when an Ovenbird hopped up from the ground onto a branch on the opposite side of the trail. It was right next to the trail and only feet away from us, its orange crown up raised up & excitedly chipping at us. It was joined by a much duller Ovenbird on also chipped at us. Both of them tried to lead us away from the area. To avoid disturbing what we figured was a nest we followed them down the trail.

At another location two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, one bluer than any gnatcatcher I have ever seen, came out of nowhere and did the same. One of the other interesting sightings occurred after the walk when I heard two excited crows mobbing something in a large oak. They had found a large Black Snake climbing high in the tree and one was on each side of the snake. Whenever the snake would strike at one of the crows, the one behind it would dart in & peck the snake. At that point the snake would reposition itself and go after the one pecking it. This was still going on when I left.

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
The complete list of birds follows:
Wild Turkey 2, Black Vulture 1, Turkey Vulture 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Red-tailed Hawk 1, Killdeer 1, Mourning Dove X, Chimney Swift 1, Red-headed Woodpecker 3, Red-bellied Woodpecker X, Downy Woodpecker X Pileated Woodpecker 4, Eastern Wood-Pewee X, Acadian Flycatcher X, Eastern Phoebe 1, Great Crested Flycatcher X, Eastern Kingbird X, White-eyed Vireo 3, Yellow-throated Vireo 1, Red-eyed Vireo X, Blue Jay X, American Crow X, Fish Crow X, Tree Swallow X, Barn Swallow X, Carolina Chickadee X, Tufted Titmouse X, White-breasted Nuthatch X, Carolina Wren X, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 10, Swainson’s Thrush 1, Wood Thrush 4, American Robin X, Gray Catbird X, Northern Mockingbird X, Brown Thrasher X, European Starling X, Cedar Waxwing 23, Ovenbird 3, Worm-eating Warbler 1, Louisiana Waterthrush 3, Northern Waterthrush 1, Blue-winged Warbler 1, Tennessee Warbler 1, Kentucky Warbler 4, Common Yellowthroat X, Cape May Warbler 1, Cerulean Warbler 3 , Northern Parula 7, Blackpoll Warbler 1, Yellow-throated Warbler 1, Yellow-breasted Chat 3, Eastern Towhee 1, Chipping Sparrow X, Field Sparrow X, Grasshopper Sparrow 5, Song Sparrow X, Scarlet Tanager X, Northern Cardinal X, Blue Grosbeak 1, Indigo Bunting X, Red-winged Blackbird X, Eastern Meadowlark X, Common Grackle X, Brown-headed Cowbird X, Orchard Oriole 1,,House Finch X, American Goldfinch X,