Archive for September, 2013

Eighteen people enjoyed the regular 2nd Sat. of the month bird walk sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy & the Friends of Banshee Reeks last Saturday. Prior to the Banshee walk four people spent an hour at the private Dulles Greenway Wetlands.

Except for a couple of mixed flocks the activity at Banshee Reeks was quieter than many of us had expected with 42 species there including four warbler species and two vireos, one of which was a very vocal White-eyed.

We did have one active mixed flock of migrants and residents at one spot along the Goose Creek and a couple of intriguing warblers there that managed to escape identification to our frustration.

Twenty-six species were found at the Wetlands for a total of 55 different species for the day.   The highlights at the Wetlands were 21 carefully-counted Great Egrets, a VA Rail, approx. 10 each Wood Ducks and Mallards as well as a single Black Duck, a Northern Harrier, a Pectoral Sandpiper, 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, and a small flock of Least Sandpipers.

Because the wetlands is rapidly drying out and the exposed mud hardening, there were a lot of dead carp visible. Without rain soon the wetlands will prob. lose much of its appeal to a wide variety of birds.

It was a beautiful early fall day and a great day to be outside enjoying the many beauties of nature.

See below for complete eBird list of the birds seen at Banshee Reeks and the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project.

As it warmed it there were 8 Monarchs, mostly females, among the several butterfly species at Banshee.

Good birding, Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve: Mallard  2, Black Vulture  32, Turkey Vulture  9, Red-shouldered Hawk  4, Broad-winged Hawk  2, Red-tailed Hawk  1, Rock Pigeon  8, Mourning Dove  8, Chimney Swift  2, Belted Kingfisher  1, Red-bellied Woodpecker  4, Downy Woodpecker  2, Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  4, Pileated Woodpecker  3, Eastern Wood-Pewee  6, Empidonax sp.  1, Eastern Phoebe  4, White-eyed Vireo  1, Red-eyed Vireo  1, Blue Jay  8, American Crow  8, Fish Crow, Common Raven  2, Carolina Chickadee  6, Tufted Titmouse  6, White-breasted Nuthatch  6, Carolina Wren  8, Eastern Bluebird  4, Wood Thrush  1, American Robin  6, Gray Catbird  6, Northern Mockingbird  6, European Starling  12, Cedar Waxwing  8, Black-and-white Warbler  3, Common Yellowthroat  3, Magnolia Warbler  2, Black-throated Green Warbler  1, Eastern Towhee  2, Northern Cardinal  8, House Finch  5, American Goldfinch  15.

View this checklist online at   Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project, Loudoun, US-VA Sep 14, 2013 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM Protocol: Traveling 0.5 mile(s) 28 species

Canada Goose  50Wood Duck  12, American Black Duck  1, Mallard  10, Great Blue Heron  2, Great Egret  21,      Green Heron  2, Northern Harrier  1, Red-shouldered Hawk  2, Virginia Rail  1, Killdeer  10, Lesser Yellowlegs  2, Least Sandpiper  8,     Pectoral Sandpiper  1, Belted Kingfisher  1, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird  1, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird  1, European Starling  10, Common Yellowthroat  3, Song Sparrow  1, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch  6.


Don Davis from Ontario passed along this great information – especially click on the video embedded in the article. Ilse shows how to collect milkweed seeds and how to plant them:

Excellent article and video with Ilse Gebhard from a year ago,  illustrating how easy it is to plant a suitable area with milkweed seed. I am sure that others may have useful suggestions at this important time of the year, when milkweed pods are beginning to ripen and release their seeds.


Concerned about climate change and other issues? Well with politics as they are we may need to take a fresh look at our avenues for change.

plevine2Next Wednesday, Morven Park is kicking off their  ”Distinguished Voices in Civics” Speaker Series with Peter Levine, author of “We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For” as the guest speaker. The topic sounds encouraging!

You are invited to attend the event for free but registration is required (click here to register).

Use the promo code: SPECIALGUEST when you register in order to get the free admission.

Wednesday, Sept. 25th | 7 pm

Peter Levine is the professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Tufts University and director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Levine is the author of the upcoming book, “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For; The Promise of Civic Renewal in America.”

levine-bookPeter Levine’s We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For is a primer for anyone motivated to help revive our fragile civic life and restore citizens’ public role. After offering a novel theory of active citizenship, a diagnosis of its decline, and a searing critique of our political institutions, Levine-one of America’s most influential civic engagement activists-argues that American citizens must address our most challenging issues. People can change the norms and structures of their own communities through deliberative civic action. He illustrates rich and effective civic work by drawing lessons from YouthBuild USA, Everyday Democracy, the Industrial Areas Foundation, and many other civic groups. Their organizers invite all citizens-including traditionally marginalized people, such as low-income teenagers-to address community problems. Levine explores successful efforts from communities across America as well as from democracies overseas. He shows how cities like Bridgeport, CT and Allentown, PA have bounced back from the devastating loss of manufacturing jobs by drawing on robust civic networks. The next step is for the participants in these local efforts to change policies that frustrate civic engagement nationally.

Filled with trenchant analysis and strategies for reform, We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For analyzes and advocates a new citizen-centered politics capable of tackling problems that cannot be fixed in any other way.


Mona Miller put together this excellent video on how to collect Common Milkweed seeds with fantastic tips on how to do it without getting the fluff all over your house :)


The Loudoun County Master Gardeners is hosting this great speaker program on October 3rd:

Free Gardening Lecture – What’s That Tree? Winter Tree Identification When the leaves have fallen and the biting insects are gone, it’s a perfect time for a walk in your neighborhood, park or woodland.  Here’s the challenge:  can you identify the trees that surround you?  Identifying trees is a gratifying skill and you’ll learn helpful tips at the October 3rd Loudoun County Master Gardeners Lecture Series, at 7 pm at the Loudoun County Extension Office in Leesburg.   Our guest speaker, Debbie Dillion, is a certified arborist and serves as the Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources for Culpeper, Madison and Orange Counties.   Ms. Dillion also manages the Master Gardener volunteer program in these counties.  Please join us at this free presentation

Then….on November 16, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is sponsoring this Winter Tree Identification Field Trip:

Tree Identification Walk — Saturday, November 16, 8:00 a.m.,  Morven Park. Learn  how to identify trees in winter as Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy hosts Dr. Emily Southgate in a wonderful walk and talk through the trees! Emily will introduce us to the  basic terms and how to use winter tree identification books, using trees at  Morven Park as examples. We will learn many of the common trees, and find that  knowing trees in the winter can be as easy as in the summer. We will focus on  native species, but may also learn a few non-natives. The walk will not be  strenuous, though we will go off the paths. Registration  required: Sign  Up Online.  Questions: contact Jill Miller at


Did you see a Monarch Butterfly today? Well wish it well for the great migration to Mexico because that’s where it’s headed!  Today marks the start of the peak migration for our latitude (39).

Monarch Watch put together this great table that shows how the migration plays out.

Latitude Midpoint Peak in monarch abundance
49 26 August 18-30 August
47 1 September 24 August -5 September
45 6 September 29 August – 10 September
43 11 September 3 – 15 September
41 16 September 8 – 20 September
39 22 September 14-26 September
37 27 September 19 September – 1 October
35 2 October 24 September – 6 October
33 7 October 29 September – 11 October
31 12 October 4-16 October
29 18 October 10-22 October
27 23 October 15-27 October
25 28 October 20 October – 1 November
23 4 November 27 October -8 November
21 11 November 3-15 November
19.4* 18 November 10-22 November

Monarchs are triggered to migrate by the shorter days and cooler temperatures and in fact, the butterflies that emerge in this late summer/early fall period do not develop sexually. Instead they go into a state of diapause (like a long term adolescence) and just focus on nectaring and flying south to Mexico.

Once they arrive in Mexico (around the last week of October) they’ll rest for the winter and then by next February, they’ll become sexually mature, mate and start the journey north, laying eggs in the spring.

If you see a Monarch over the next few weeks, take a minute to watch and enjoy, and when it takes off whisper a wish for safe travels!



It’s Time to Plant Your Garden!

Native_Plant_Sale_20120915-18Fall is the best time for planting, and natives are your best choice for plants that are low maintenance, beautiful, and great for attracting birds and butterflies to your garden.

Are you planting a Monarch Waystation? Make sure you get Goldenrods, Asters and other fall bloomers for nectar!

Nature By Design and Hill House Farm & Nursery will have a large selection of locally native plants for sale.

To see plant lists or place advance orders, visit their websites at: and

Please note that not all plants listed on the vendor websites will be available at the sale so if you know what you’d like to buy ahead of time, give them a call and place a pre-order.

And What about Milkweed?

Monarch_Male_20120805-114Yes!! We have 288 milkweed plugs available (in addition to the mature plants that the nurseries bring).

The plugs just came in from Monarch Watch and they’re ready for planting!

They were cut back for shipping so they don’t have enough leaves for feeding caterpillars this fall but their roots are robust and ready to grow!

Plant them now and they’ll come back strong next spring in time for the return of the Monarchs!

As you plant your Monarch Waystation, please register it with Monarch Watch!

It’s fast and easy, provides an example for others to follow and shows how your garden can make a difference! (but if you don’t register it, we don’t know you created it!)

Chat with Experts, Check out Exhibits, Visit with Monarch Butterflies before they head to Mexico!!

Asters 1 9_25_2004In addition to the plants, visit with local experts on native plants and the wildlife that they attract.

In the wise words of Janet Davis of Hill House Farm & Nursery, “Forget the mums! Plant goldenrod and asters!”

Exhibits at the sale include:
- Monarch butterfly waystations – we’ll bring caterpillars and chrysalides for you to look at and might even have Monarchs to release!
- Plants to attract birds and amphibians
- Audubon at Home program
- Native bee houses
- Pollinator license plate applications
- Help desk for advice on growing natives

Between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. enjoy freshly made fajitas and beverages for sale at the Good Grubbin’ food truck.

Come on Out for this Great Event! Let’s Go Native!

Location: Rust Nature Sanctuary 802 Children’s Center Rd. Leesburg, Virginia 20175

Date and Time: Saturday, September 14 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Ann Garvey at


Leslie Sinn, who is doing a program for us on Wildlife Behavior Myths this October, just tee’d us off to this cool song that asks, “What Does the Fox Say?”

Very catchy tune – and the program on Oct 8th will be excellent too – make your calendar – free program!

Details are here:

Wildlife Behavior Myths — Tuesday, October 8, 7:00 p.m.,  Rust Library. Interested  in why animals do the things they do? Join Loudoun Wildlife  Conservancy as we host Veterinarian Leslie Sinn of Blue  Ridge Veterinary Associates for a presentation on commonly held misconceptions  about wildlife behavior. We will first look at normal behavior focusing on  Virginia mammals such as fox, raccoon and coyote and then discuss how behavior  (ours and theirs) impacts the lives these animals lead and their ability to  co-exist safely with people. Because of the detailed information covered, this  presentation is intended for an adult audience. Registration  required: Sign  Up Online.  Questions: contact Jill Miller at


This fantastic video tells the whole story – watch it and share it far and wide!

“As milkweed goes, so goes the Monarch”  Plant milkweed now — it’ll grow up big and strong for next Spring!

As we head into fall, adult Monarchs need nectar plants – forget the Mums – plant Goldenrods and Asters! They perennial (come back every year), are native to Loudoun (unlike Mums which are from Asia), and they are beautiful!


Plant your Monarch Waystation now — come out to our native plant sale next week and get all the plants you need!

Plight of the Monarch:

The plight of the Monarch is that of so many other species that we may not recognize – plant a garden or restore a habitat for Monarchs and you restore habitat for countless other species too!

Native Plant Sale, September 14th, at Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg.  Full details are here: