Archive for April, 2013

Remember that really strong wind we had last Wednesday night?  Well, it took down the nest…. Here’s the sad news that I received from Dave Thomas:

The nest blew down in the winds Wednesday night.  I found two dead babies on the ground the next morning, both apparently healthy and growing.  Neighbors saw the adults flying around, as if searching and perhaps in mourning.  One carried food in its beak, ready to feed the young. It’s a tough world for wildlife!


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Members:

You’re Invited to attend the 18th Annual Meeting ~ and take a “Milkweed Patch Safari”

Sunday, May 19, 2013
4:00 – 7:00 pm

Historic Morven Park, Carriage Museum
17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg, VA 20176

What Do We Have Planned?

Each year Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for members to gather, celebrate another year of accomplishments and hear an interesting guest speaker. The Annual Meeting also includes light refreshments; flute music performed by Karen Strick and Lisa Schoepfle; a silent auction of original artwork and more; award presentations to science fair winners, Roger Tory Peterson Young Naturalists and the volunteer of the year; and a short business meeting. Milkweed and other native plants will be available for sale as well as the new Monarch tshirt: Bringing Back the Monarch, Keeping the Magic Alive! and other monarch related items and materials.

Registration required: Sign Up Online.  Questions: contact Jill Miller at

Take a Milkweed Patch Safari!
Cape_May_Point_Monarchs_20120929-59About The Speaker:  This year, as we launch our Monarch Campaign, we are honored to welcome Alonso Abugattas, well-known local naturalist and environmental educator. He will guide us on a pictorial safari through the milkweed patch. Current Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy members are invited to attend and learn about the natural history, pollinator interactions, ethnobotany and folklore connected to this extraordinary plant group.

Alonso Abugattas is a Master Naturalist and Master Gardener and serves as an instructor for both. A co-founder of the Washington Area Butterfly Club, he has also held several offices for the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, including president. Alonso is a Certified Heritage Interpreter through the National Association for Interpretation, for which he is the Co-chair of the Beltway Chapter and has conducted numerous trainings on a local, regional, and national level for fellow naturalists. Currently the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County, he has had several mentions in the press, radio, and television.

The Silent Auction:
Fellow members and local artists and businesses have donated 15 packages for your aesthetic, recreational, and educational enjoyment. Come with your checkbook and competitive bidding spirit to help raise funds for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s programs and projects. The more we raise, the more we can do to protect Loudoun’s wildlife and their habitat! Preview the Auction Lots below! Huge and sincere thanks to our generous donors!

Lot 1: Autographed Copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior  Donated by: Nicole Hamilton Starting bid: $40 This package includes a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book, Flight Behavior – signed by the author as well as esteemed monarch butterfly scientist and professor Dr. Lincoln Brower of Sweet Briar College. Both Barbara Kingsolver and Dr. Lincoln Brower signed a copy of our Monarch Butterfly Campaign flier as well which is included in this lot. Monarchs are a prominent theme in the book, and this is a wonderful opportunity to own a booked signed by one of our country’s most talented and passionate conservation authors.

SONY DSCLot 2: Karen Coleman’s Fine Art Print, “Bloodroot” Donated by: Karen Coleman Starting bid: $50 Karen Coleman has a certificate in Botanical Art from the Brookside Gardens School of Botanical Art & Illustration in Maryland, where she now teaches. Her works have been shown in many local and international exhibitions in addition to solo shows. This limited edition fine art print is of the original pen & ink piece “Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis”. This print was on display at Rust Library in Leesburg as part of an exhibition of Karen’s work during March-April 2013. The original hangs in The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University.

Lot 3: Private Bottling Session at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company Donated by: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, Purcellville, VA Starting bid: $100. Be a “Distiller for a Day” – enjoy (or give as a gift) a private bottling workshop for 12-24 people. You will have the opportunity to bottle some whiskey, which is also available to purchase and bring home with you after the workshop. The package also includes a leather flask and two shotglasses. Catoctin Creek Distilling Company is the first distillery in Loudoun County Virginia since before Prohibition. Catoctin Creek is family owned and produces award winning, high quality small-batch organic spirits: organic rye whisky and gin, and brandy from Virginia wines. Their motto is: Think Global, Drink Local!

Lot 4: Reserve Wine Tasting for 4 at Chrysalis Vineyards Donated by: Chrysalis Vineyards, Middleburg, VA . Starting bid: $40. Taste a collection of Chrysalis Vineyards’ Reserve wines. Spend an afternoon in the Virginia Piedmont countryside – you can even grill your own barbecue lunch on the property. Chrysalis Vineyards specializes in unusual Spanish and French varietals and the native Virginia grape, Norton, in addition to substantial plantings of traditional grapes. Their practices combine the best of modern techniques with the traditional hand-crafted winemaking methods of the Old World.

Lot 5: LEGO Architecture series – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Donated by: Anonymous donor . Starting bid: $50. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1934, Fallingwater is perhaps the most famous residential home in the world. Open to the public since 1963, this masterpiece exemplifies Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architectural style by intimately merging man with the surrounding natural landscape. This highly-detailed LEGO model captures all of the distinctive features that make Fallingwater an architectural landmark. The assembled model stands 10″ wide. Includes a booklet with facts about the building, its construction and its history.

L6_Colvard_left-facing_butterfly_bowlLot 6: Monarch Butterfly Bowl (left-facing) Donated by: Anita Colvard. Starting bid: $30. This is a gorgeous 10” diameter bowl with a vivid monarch butterfly within. Anita Colvard is a potter and fabric artist in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia who designs and creates functional and whimsical stoneware pottery and sculpture. She is inspired by the work of potters such as David Norton, Robin Hopper, and Kevin Crowe. Anita is an avid fan of the natural world, and her library contains references on geology, weather, plants, birds and alternative energy. She is a lifetime member of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, enjoys photography and SCUBA diving, and tapped her trees this year to make maple syrup. Images of her work can be found at:

Lot 7: Monarch Butterfly Bowl (right-facing) Donated by: Anita Colvard. Starting bid: $30. This bowl is approximately 10” in diameter. See additional details about the artist under Lot #6.

Lot 8: White Egret Bowl Donated by: Anita Colvard . Starting bid: $30. This bowl is approximately 10” in diameter, with a stunning image of a white egret set within. See additional details about the artist under Lot #6.

Lot 9: Ceramic Gravy Boat Pitcher and Saucer Donated by: Marianne Cordyack Pottery Studio, Reston, VA . Starting bid: $30. This ceramic gravy boat pitcher with attached saucer beneath was created by Marianne Cordyack. Marianne has been making pottery since 1990. She has always been awed and inspired by nature, and most of her work reflects this. She enjoys experimenting with new forms and glaze combinations to best express her inspiration. Marianne’s pottery work is sold from her studio in Reston, at The Artists’ Undertaking Gallery in Occoquan, and at various art and craft shows throughout Northern Virginia. She also teaches occasional salt-firing workshops at her studio in Shannondale, West Virginia.

L10_cabinLot 10: Weekend stay at “Ox Bow Camp” cabin, Edinburg, VA Donated by: Phil & Ellie Daley Starting bid: $50 (increasing in at least $5 increments) Ox Bow Camp is a small cabin located beside Little Stony Creek in Shenandoah County, VA. This package includes a three-day, two-night stay at the one-bedroom cabin. Nature is all around, and there are hiking trails and many other activities nearby.

Lot 11: Salvaged Cedar Pen and Mechanical Pencil Set Donated by: Norman Gresley. Starting bid: $25. This beautiful original pen and mechanical pencil set are handmade using salvaged cedar. The Leesburg tree was knocked down by a storm in 2011. Mr. Gresley, the craftsman, applied a temporary shelac/carnuba wax finish to allow you to feel the wood in your hands. This finish will gradually wear off to a smooth, satiny finish as you hold and use them.

Lot 12: Organic Plum Studio Signature Anti-Aging Treatment Facial Donated by: Organic Plum Studio, Leesburg, VA . Starting bid: $75. Organic Plum Studio, located in downtown Leesburg, offers a wide variety of organic services. There you will experience the most healing and nourishing treatments for your skin with Eminence Organics products from Hungary. These products are world-renowned for their high quality and environmental commitment. Purchase this package and treat yourself or a loved one to a 90-minute Signature Anti-Aging Treatment Facial. This luxurious treatment will nourish the skin, as well as renew the mind, body, and spirit. The treatment includes a delicious scalp, shoulder, arm, and foot massage.

L13_Hauffe_butterfly_paintingLot 13: Monarch painting Donated by: Penny Hauffe .Starting bid: $50 . Artist Penny Hauffe framed and signed this print of her vibrant painting of monarch butterflies. Penny is a world traveled painter and sculptor who lives and works in Leesburg. Her commissioned work has appeared nationally and as far away as Australia, South Africa and the UK. Inspired by bold colors, beautiful lighting, contrasting textures and the wonders of nature, she creates artwork for several annual group art shows. Penny has produced cover illustrations for numerous children’s books, young readers and educational textbooks. She continues to teach private and group art lessons from her home/studio in Leesburg, VA, sharing her joy of painting and creating with her many talented students. Read more about Penny and her work at:

Lot 14: Landscape Consultation with Jennifer Lewis of Main Street Landscape Donated by: Laura Weidner McGranaghan and Main Street Landscape, Haymarket, VA . Starting bid: $200
Main Street Landscape thinks they may just be the most meticulous landscape contractor in Northern Virginia. Share your vision with the designers… consider some of their ideas as well… then arrive at the ultimate concept for your private outdoor sanctuary. This certificate entitles the holder to a four-hour landscape design consultation and draw time with Jennifer Lewis, a designer with the firm since 2006. (Northern VA locations only). Jennifer carries a degree in Landscape Design/Horticulture Technology as well as a degree in Biology with an emphasis in Botany.

Lot 15: Great Country Farms “Fan of the Farm” Season Pass Donated by: Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA . Starting bid: $100. Great Country Farms is a family-friendly farm where visiting for a few hours or a day can provide memories to last a lifetime. At the farm, you can pick your own berries, pet farm animals, take a hayride, and much more. They believe in connecting families to the source of their food. The “Fan of the Farm” season pass includes unlimited visits for immediate household family members (up to 6 people) throughout the season (March 23 – November 30) as well as admission to all festivals, 10% discount on u-pick and in-store produce, and much more.

If you’re not yet a member of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, or need to renew – please do! We need you!

Take a look at all the silent auction items on our Facebook Album


Just hopped in to wish you a happy Save the Frogs Day and say thanks for all that you do!


Here’s a video that a woman who raises and releases Monarchs did to show the milkweed patch that she visits. Try finding a patch near you. Once a common plant, this is getting harder and harder to find (for us and our Monarchs)


Interested in Climate Change?  Bring friends and family to  view the documentary “Do the Math” by climate activist and founder of Bill McKibben at UUCL on Sunday (4-21-13) evening at 6:45.  20460 Gleedsville Rd., Leesburg, VA 20175.

The 42 minute documentary describes the perilous path we are on and ways to challenge the fossil fuel industry.

Afterwards, stay tuned for a 30 minute live-streamed discussion with climate leaders.  View the trailer below.  If you can come, please RSVP to Natalie (


From the Master Gardeners:

Washington, D.C. is famous for its magnificent cherry trees, but the city’s tree canopy is much more diverse than that.  Well-known D.C. author and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley is the guest speaker for the May 2nd Loudoun County Master Gardener lecture series at the Rust Library at 7pm.  Author of City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, D.C., Choukas-Bradley will discuss the city’s arboreal history and how it became home to more than 300 species of trees from all over the world.

Her book has been called the definitive guide for locating, identifying and learning about trees in Washington, D.C.  We’ll hear how George Washington and Thomas Jefferson helped the nation’s capital evolve into a city of trees and how city residents today help care for the trees by planting, watering and monitoring their health.

When she’s not writing books or teaching, Choukas-Bradley leads field trips and tree tours for the Audubon Naturalist Society, the U.S. Botanic Garden, Casey Trees, the Maryland Native Plant Society and the Nature Conservancy.  She has written two other highly acclaimed natural history books about Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland.  Please join us!

For more information about the lecture or the Loudoun County Master Gardener program visit the website: or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments.


Dave Thomas sent over the latest update on the Red Shouldered Hawks nesting at Leisure World.  Looks like all is well  for this pair!

No sign of eggs hatching, but I think it will be soon, certainly within a week. The oak leaves are coming out fast and are going to make viewing a lot more difficult, but we should be able to track the progress even if we can’t get good photos in the nest.  Anyway, it is still exciting, and more people here at Leisure World learn about it each year.  This is our fourth year, but with a new nest location.  The nest is even closer to the nearest street although the photo showing traffic below is considerably foreshortened with the telephoto lens.



Just 140 more applications needed and this beautiful license plate will go into production!

Spread the word and get your application today at the link below:


Seventeen people enjoyed the regular 2nd Sat. of the month bird walk sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy & the Friends of Banshee Reeks this beautiful spring morning. While the temperature started at 42 degrees it quickly warmed up and lots of the birds were in song including many Eastern Towhees, Field Sparrows, and American Goldfinches as well as a few Spring Peepers and a couple of Gray Tree Frogs.

Among the highlights of the 53 bird species, including four dif. warblers, were two very early Blackpoll Warblers found by three of the group (see below for their description of these two birds), a flyover Great Egret flashing in the sun, one Eastern Meadowlark, two dif. Barred Owls well-seen by everyone as they perched and checked us out as carefully as we did them, two male Purple Finches, and several, for many of us, first of season Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. The spring wildflowers were great, esp. the carpets of spring beauty in the woods. And not only were a few Spring Azure butterflies seen, so was a single Gray Hairstreak.   See below for complete eBird list of the birds seen at both locations.

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 Apr 13, 2013 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM Protocol: Traveling 3.0 mile(s) 53 species

Canada Goose  X, Wood Duck  X, Great Blue Heron  3, Great Egret  1, Black Vulture  X, Turkey Vulture  X, Northern Harrier  1, Red-shouldered Hawk  1, Red-tailed Hawk  1, Rock Pigeon  1, Mourning Dove  X, Barred Owl  2, Belted Kingfisher  1, Red-bellied Woodpecker  X, Downy Woodpecker  X, Hairy Woodpecker  2, Northern Flicker  X, Pileated Woodpecker  2, American Kestrel  2, Eastern Phoebe  2, Blue Jay  X, American Crow  X, Fish Crow  X, Tree Swallow  X, Carolina Chickadee  X, Tufted Titmouse  X, White-breasted Nuthatch  X, Carolina Wren  X, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4, Ruby-crowned Kinglet  9, Eastern Bluebird  X, Hermit Thrush  1, American Robin  X, Northern Mockingbird  X, Brown Thrasher  X, European Starling  X, Cedar Waxwing  X, Louisiana Waterthrush  1, Blackpoll Warbler  2     Realizing that they had found a species much earlier than normal, Joanne Bradbury, Jon Rouse, and Steve Allen spent a long time studying two warblers flitting around the forest in Banshee Reeks. They determined they were two adult Blackpoll Warblers rather than anything else, including Black-and-White, because of the large white cheeks,  the solid black cap, and white undertail coverts. They also noted the flitting behavior rather than the creeping gleaning that Black-and-white Warblers are prone to), Yellow-rumped Warbler  2, Prairie Warbler  1, Eastern Towhee  15, Chipping Sparrow  6, Field Sparrow  15, Song Sparrow  X, White-throated Sparrow  X, Northern Cardinal  X, Red-winged Blackbird  X, Eastern Meadowlark  1, Brown-headed Cowbird  3, Purple Finch  2, House Finch  1, American Goldfinch  15


Remember that habitat restoration project we did last fall to improve a spot at Morven Park that was functioning as a vernal pool but not holding water long enough for tadpoles to develop?

Well…..the restoration was a fantastic success!

This February as the rains came, we went out and checked for activity.  The Wood Frogs and Jefferson Salamanders that live in the woods around these vernal pools must have been watching us at work last fall because not only did they use our “improved” pool, they favored it over the other sites that are in the area.

Beth Arsenault and Sharon Kearns have been monitoring the pools, keeping watch over the eggs, and keeping track of the water level.

Last week, Sharon checked the pool and in spite of the heat, it had 6 inches of water in it.

And now, after getting more rain yesterday morning, Beth reports that the depth is not only up to 9 1/2″ but it seems to be at capacity. The most exciting part is to see the fruits of the labor in the form of tadpoles that are thriving. In years past, there had been no recruitment of new frogs or salamanders because the pools dried out too early for them to make it to adulthood.  This year they’re in great shape!

A few photos just taken at the site are shown here.