Archive for July, 2012

The highlights of Saturday morning’s bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center in northwestern Loudoun Co, were five warbler species, 3 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, great looks at three dif. Scarlet Tanagers, a fair amount of fledglings, and lots of butterflies nectaring on summer wildflowers.

The latter is not surprising as we spent abut an hour and a 1/2 on the trail called Butterfly Alley but we also found several species of butterflies in the woods as well. Four of the five warbler species, a rather early fall migrating Black-throated Blue, a late but still singing Louisiana Warbler, a Northern Parula, and two American Redstarts (a male and a female), were all found in the same area, the location where the foot bridge crosses Piney Run & connects the Little Turtle and Farmstead Loop trails.

The habitat there is a rich riparian buffer with a healthy understory and tall mature forest. This is in the same area we have found a family of Louisiana Waterthrushes, two Kentucky Warblers doing a distraction display, and Cerulean Warblers this year. We were rather surprised by the early Black-throated Blue.

The Yellow-billed Cuckoos were heard in a variety of different locations as were the well-seen Scarlet Tanagers. Nesting behavior included several recently fledged birds including an Acadian Flycatcher who was preening after bathing in Sweet Run as well as a number of very young Indigo Buntings and Field Sparrows. It was also fun to watch male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds harassing much larger birds.

See below for a complete list of the 47 species observed by the nine of us. Del Sargent and Elliott and Nancy Kirschbaum helped lead the walk. We also saw numerous different butterflies – see below for the list.

Next weekend is the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Annual Butterfly Count. It does include the Blue Ridge Center as well as a number of other locations. If you think you might be int’d check it out at – you don’t need to be an exp’d butterflier.

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
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship – MFF01, Loudoun,
US-VA Jul 28, 2012 7:25 AM – 10:55 AM
Protocol: Traveling 1.5 mile(s) 47 species

Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Blue Heron 1, Turkey Vulture 3, Mourning Dove 6, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3, Ruby-throated Hummingbird 3, Red-bellied Woodpecker 1, Downy Woodpecker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Eastern Wood-Pewee 5, Acadian Flycatcher 4, Eastern Phoebe 3, Eastern Kingbird 2, White-eyed Vireo 2, Red-eyed Vireo 3, Blue Jay 2, American Crow X, Fish Crow X, Tree Swallow 1, Barn Swallow 3, Carolina Chickadee X, Tufted Titmouse X, Carolina Wren 2, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2, Eastern Bluebird 4, Wood Thrush 4, American Robin 1, Gray Catbird 3, Northern Mockingbird 1, Brown Thrasher 1, European Starling 15, Cedar Waxwing 8, Louisiana Waterthrush 1, Common Yellowthroat 1, American Redstart 2, Northern Parula 1, Black-throated Blue Warbler 1, Eastern Towhee 6, Chipping Sparrow 3, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow 4, Scarlet Tanager 4, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting 20, Orchard Oriole 1, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow 2

The butterflies included Eastern Tiger Swallowtail abundant, Spicebush Swallowtail common, Cabbage White abundant, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Eastern-tailed Blue, Great Spangled Fritillary only one, Silvery Checkerspot – two, Question Mark , American Lady, Red-spotted Purple, Hackberry Emperor, Northern Pearly Eye – two, Monarch – five, Common Sootywing – one


The Loudoun County Master Gardeners hold a Lecture Series the first Thursday of every month at 7 PM at the Loudoun County Extension Office, 30 Catoctin Circle SE, Suite B, Leesburg, VA 20175. Lower Level Conference Room.

Lectures feature topics of interest to gardeners and naturalists. The Lecture Series is open to the public. Here is a list of upcoming events:

August 2. Basic Design Principles, Judy Brown, Landscape Architect, Meadows Farms. A Registered Landscape Architect and graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture, Judy has designed parks in Boston and prepared layouts for new communities with national developers, enabling her to utilize the “Big Picture” in every project.

September 6. Understanding Mushrooms, John Dahlberg. John Dahlberg has been collecting and studying fungi for over 20 years. His passion for mushrooms stems from a combined interest in nature and gourmet food. As a young lab technician, John worked on research programs studying viruses, running clinical diagnostic assays and developing skills with tissue culture. This experience led to an interest in developing a deeper understanding of fungi, which is a complex, under-studied, and often puzzling organism. In related hobbies John brews beer, makes artisanal sausage and practices sustainable gardening, all of which involve an appreciation of microbial life and cultivating & fermenting fungi and bacteria. John is currently the Director of Technical Services at Allegis Group Services, which provides talent acquisition services and on the side runs Hidden Hollow Farm in Lovettsville, Virginia where he raises heritage pigs, poultry, goats, gardens, grows Shitake mushrooms and of course forages for wild ones in the woods.

October 4. The Chestnut Story, Catherine Mayes, The American Chestnut Foundation. Catherine Mayes is Chairman, Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation, Treasurer, Virginia Native Plant Society and Piedmont Chapter, VNPS and Vice President, Old Rag Master Naturalists. She is also a certified Master Naturalist. Catherine enjoys birding, vegetable gardening, and dairy farming.

November 1. Growing and Planting Trees, Brian Mayall, Nursery Manager, Casey Trees. Brian Mayell is the Nursery Manager for Casey Tree Farm in Berryville, Virginia, where he is growing shade and ornamental trees for Casey Trees’ tree planting programs in Washington, DC. Brian formerly managed a tree nursery for the city of Boise, Idaho where he grew trees for planting in Boise parks and rights-of-way, worked for the Idaho Botanical Garden, and spent 10 years growing grapes in California. He has a degree in English from Boise State University and is an ISA certified arborist.


The Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society invites you to the following event:

Native Meadow Restoration

Saturday, July 28 at 10:00 am

Come visit Consulting Ecologist Jeff Wolinski’s native grass and wildflower meadow in western Loudoun County and learn about meadow restoration.
38643 Morrisonville Rd. Lovettsville, VA

This is an eight year old mesic meadow started from seed, with some plants added through plugs and larger containerized plantings.

The primary grasses are sideoats gramma grass and little bluestem, and the primary wildflowers are wild bergamot and purple coneflower, with dozens of additional native and naturalized species present in varying numbers.

VNPS programs are free and open to the public. RSVP:


There was a lot of breeding bird behavior and disbursement observed at this morning’s bird walk at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve and during an early morning visit to the privately owned Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project.

The twelve people at Banshee Reeks found 54 species of which the highlights were 3 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, 3 vocal White-eyed Vireos, Prairie Warblers feeding young, a Louisiana Waterthrush bathing in the Goose Creek, lots & lots of Common Yellowthroats, two Chats, and both oriole species, including a family unit of Orchard Orioles.  It was also fun to stop by the MAPS banding station where we watched an adult male Common Yellowthroat and a recently-fledged Indigo Bunting measured, weighed, and banded.

Prior to the Banshee walk three of us, Mary Ann Good, myself, and Del Sargent spent an hour at the wetlands and found 33 species of which the highlights were a juvenile WHITE IBIS, two Great Egrets, two Blue Grosbeaks, a few shorebirds including one Solitary Sandpiper and 8 Semipalmated Sandpipers, a food-begging Orchard Oriole, and adult Bald Eagle which flew around its nest.  While we did not see any juvenile eagles, we were pls’d to see that the nest did not suffer any apparent damage from the June 29 storm.

We often visit the privately ownerd Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project prior to Banshee Reeks walk; if you are int’d in joining us pls contact us ahead of time and we’ll be happy to include you if we are planning a visit.

See below for the complete list of birds seen.

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

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, US-VA
54 species: Mallard  6, Great Blue Heron  4, Black Vulture  15, Turkey Vulture  15, Red-shouldered Hawk  1, Red-tailed Hawk  1, American Kestrel  1, Rock Pigeon  4, Mourning Dove  6, Yellow-billed Cuckoo  3, Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1, Belted Kingfisher  1, Red-bellied Woodpecker  1, Pileated Woodpecker  1, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher  2, Great Crested Flycatcher  1, Eastern Kingbird  1, White-eyed Vireo  3, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee  2, Tufted Titmouse  2, White-breasted Nuthatch  1, Carolina Wren, House Wren  1, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2, Eastern Bluebird  X, Wood Thrush, American Robin  1, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher  2, European Starling  10, Cedar Waxwing  5, Ovenbird  1, Louisiana Waterthrush  1, Common Yellowthroat  15, Prairie Warbler  3, Yellow-breasted Chat  2, Eastern Towhee  4, Field Sparrow  12, Song Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager  1, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Orchard Oriole  5, Baltimore Oriole  2, American Goldfinch.

Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project, Loudoun, US-VA
33 species: Wood Duck  16, Mallard  7, Great Blue Heron  3, Great Egret  2, Green Heron  4, White Ibis  1, Bald Eagle  1, Killdeer  8, Solitary Sandpiper  1, Semipalmated Sandpiper  8, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1Great Crested Flycatcher  1, White-eyed Vireo  1, American Crow, Fish Crow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow  3,Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Wren, House Wren  1,Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird  1, Common Yellowthroat  4, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow  3, Northern Cardinal, Blue Grosbeak  2, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Orchard Oriole  3, American Goldfinch.


Wow! We have great news for our Members! 

The Bird Feeder in Reston (located at 1675 Reston Parkway, in Reston VA) has made arrangements to give Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Members a 10% discount on store merchandise (excluding sale items and optics)!

The Bird Feeder has an amazing selection of bird feeders, books, bird baths, nest boxes, cards, t-shirts, gift items like nature-themed jewelry, garden decorations, wind chimes (tuned) and yes indeed…bird seed!

Needless to say, one could go a little crazy in there with this great selection (in fact, some of us have! but I won’t name names…)

So now is the time to visit The Bird Feeder and start getting your member discount!

Are you a current Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Member?

You can tell by looking at your latest copy of the Habitat Herald and checking your address label. It will indicate if you are current or expired.

Or, if you’re unsure, just contact us and we’ll check. We continue to send the Habitat Herald to expired members for a few issues in hopes that they’ll renew, so please check your label or ask us.

If you’re not yet a member or if you need to renew, you can do so quickly and easily via our website:

Memberships start at just $20 per year for an individual and if you buy bird seed and such like I do, you’ll make that up in savings at The Bird Feeder in no time.

To get your discount at The Bird Feeder, simply go into the store and tell them that you’re a Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy member and they’ll take that 10% right off your bill.

Thank you for your support of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and The Bird Feeder!

Each and every one of you makes a difference for our wildlife and habitat by being a member. You raise our voice for wildlife. You enable us to offer programs and field trips for free. You help us execute monitoring activities and habitat restoration projects. Thank you for being a part of all this!

Let’s Feed the Birds!


If you enjoy watching and learning about butterfles here in Loudoun, you might want to pick up a copy of our new Field Guide to the Butterflies of Loudoun County!

We first produced this field guide last summer as a limited run as we got feedback and ideas for improvement and took a little more time to track down more species.

Those ideas and additional species have been added and this latest edition is hot off the press!

This Guide provides photos and identification tips for 63 of the 85 species of butterflies documented in Loudoun County and contains all of the species typically found on our Annual Loudoun County Butterfly Count (coming up August 4th).

In addition to identification tips and over 130 color photos, the guide provides species-specific information such as:
- Host plants
- Favorite nectar plants
- Overwintering strategies
- Flight times
- Butterfly abundance (common, rare, etc.)

This 50-page guide is spiral bound for easy use in the field, has room for your notes, and includes comparison pages for a few similar-looking species.

Order your copy today! $12 plus s/h 

Giving to the Community – Matching Program: Your purchase of the Guide helps us give it away for free! For every copy of the Guide you buy, we will donate a copy for use in environmental education programs.

Publication of this guide was made possible by a generous donation from TRIP II, The Dulles Greenway.


Join the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy on its sixteenth Annual Butterfly Count, on Saturday, August 4, 9:00 a.m.

No experience is necessary; novices will be teamed with experienced leaders in each segment of the count. Come out and have fun while contributing to butterfly conservation.

Counters visit various locations that include butterfly gardens, sanctuaries, roadside wildflower and grassy areas and parks. We typically count over 2,000 butterflies in this single day and can get up to 50 different species.

Our count circle stretches from White’s Ferry in the east to the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in the west to Point of Rocks and south to Lincoln. Bring a lunch and water and binoculars if you have them.

There’s a $3 fee per adult that we pass through to the North American Butterfly Association to help with their data compilation. This fee is waived for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy members as a member benefit.

For more information or to register and receive directions, please Sign Up online or contact Nicole Hamilton at