Archive for February, 2014

Take a few minutes to listen to voices from across our Country about the Monarch butterfly.

We, Loudoun, are not alone in our efforts to Bring Back the Monarch, Keep the Magic Alive!



Monarch_Swamp_Milkweed_20130804-14Have you created a Monarch Waystation?

Submit your story to Monarch Joint Venture and it will appear on the interactive map!

Let’s show the world that Loudoun County is working hard to Bring Back the Monarchs and Keep the Magic Alive!


Seventeen hearty individuals braved the cold (30 degrees), overcast and foreboding weather predictions on February 9th for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s annual Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES) nature walk/adventure.

Crunching, and often sliding, along the trails, the group actually had fun just being out-of-doors and learning a little bit about nature in winter.

We examined and discussed Praying Mantis (European and Carolina) eggs masses; the life cycle of Bagworms; a variety of galls, cankers and lichens; tree silhouettes, structures and barks; invasive plants; and the beauty of winter colors.

Although for the Bird enthusiasts, we didn’t see many, we did have great views of Black Vultures, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Brown Creeper as well as seeing/hearing Pileated and Downy woodpeckers, Ravens and a few flitting sparrows.

Half-way through our walk we were joined by Attila, BRCES’s farm manager and caretaker, who discussed the old ‘Neersville’ buildings and trails in the area.

The group delighted in finding, despite the long cold spell this year, Skunk Cabbages beginning to poke their flower heads up through the frozen ground.

After a long, arduous, climb up though the woods, we were greeted by a beautiful snow squall as we came out into the meadow. Several of us skidded down the snow packed slopes, nearly stepping on a Meadow Vole as it scampered for cover.

Back at the cars we could hardly get Gemma (Mud) to leave-she was having a great time sledding down the slopes on a cloth shopping bag!! Thanks to all who came along and made this a fun experience; next time maybe some “hot Chocolate’??

Photo Credits to Andrew Richardson


smile_fb_logoAs you may remember, we joined the AmazonSmile program just before Christmas as an easy way for people to support Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.  Through this program, AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible items bought by people who select a charitable organization to support.

Through December 31, our supporters spent more than $5,400, which translates into $27.36 for Loudoun Wildlife. It is just a start because AmazonSmile was not just a holiday gift. Every eligible item our supporters buy in 2014 will also automatically result in a donation to our organization. We are not asking anyone to do anything but shop as they normally would through Amazon. For example, if you buy a $100 item, 50 cents comes to Loudoun Wildlife.  Not a lot, but it adds up.

To support Loudoun Wildlife, people only need to go to and select this organization to receive the donation then always start their shopping from The easiest way is to make the Amazon home page.  Here’s the link:

There is a link to the program on our website as well. Spread the word!

And remember, if you want to support the work of Loudoun Wildlife directly, you can join/renew or make a donation at any time.

We appreciate your support!


Sixteen people showed up for the regular monthly bird walk at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve which was led by Joe Coleman & Jane Yocom today. It stayed chilly & cloudy the entire walk & except for a larger than normal number of ducks for Banshee in both individuals & species & a very large number of Ring-billed Gulls we had to work pretty hard to find 34 species. Among the ducks was the highlight of the walk, one female Common Goldeneye, along with 15-20 Gadwall, a small group of wigeon, & a drake Hooded Merganser. The ducks were on the old beaver pond near the silos and the pond visible from the Visitor Center with the Goldeneye on the beaver pond. Sparrows were few & far between with the most interesting being a couple of Savannah Sparrows in the scrub on the south side of the Visitor Center. We were also surprised by how few woodpeckers we saw or heard.

After the Banshee Reeks bird walk a few of us stopped by the Dulles Wetlands to check out the Bald Eagle nest from Oatlands Mill Road. We found one eagle in the nest eating something and another perched next to it. After a few minutes the one in the nest flew away & the other went in the nest.

On the way to the walk I saw a large raptor hunting in the scrub along the side of the road which landed in a tree with its back to me. When I stopped to check it out, a beautiful and large Barred Owl turned its head all the way around to look directly at me.

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

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
Feb 8, 2014 8:00 AM – 10:35 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
34 species

Canada Goose  500     While there were 500+ geese in a field on the other side of the Goose Creek, we also saw several flocks flying back & forth so could have easily been more than 500.
Gadwall  18
American Wigeon  7
Mallard  13
Ring-necked Duck  1
Common Goldeneye  1     Brown head with golden eye, grayish body & clearly seen by some of the group before flushing
Hooded Merganser  1
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture  4
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Ring-billed Gull  500     Were streaming back & forth to the neighboring landfill during the entire walk with prob. more than 500.
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  6
Mourning Dove  6
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker  1
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  X
Fish Crow  X By far the most common crow this morning.
Carolina Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  5
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  6
Eastern Bluebird  4
American Robin  1
Northern Mockingbird  6
Eastern Towhee  1
Savannah Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  12
White-throated Sparrow  12
Dark-eyed Junco  10
Northern Cardinal  2
American Goldfinch  2

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy today released a position paper, posted at, making the case for a fresh approach to Lyme disease prevention in Loudoun County.  The paper, entitled Rebalancing Loudoun County’s Approach to Lyme Disease Mitigation, addresses the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and Loudoun Lyme Disease Commission with recommendations for a focus on measures that provide high levels of Lyme disease protection and are also safe from the risk of toxic chemicals.   Co-signatories are the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, Loudoun Beekeepers Association, Piedmont Environmental Council Loudoun Board, Virginia Native Plant Society Piedmont Chapter, and Wild Ones Blue Ridge Chapter.  The full paper can be read and downloaded here .


The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy paper makes the following recommendations to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and Loudoun Lyme Disease Commission:


  • Cease using public funds to spray for ticks on public lands – a practice which has not been shown in scientific studies to reduce Lyme disease incidence (vs. reducing numbers of ticks).
  • Promote the highest-efficacy, lowest-toxicity, lowest-cost Lyme prevention methods. These methods center on people taking personal protective measures such as tick checks and wearing long sleeves and pants and light colors.  DEET-based repellents and permethrin-treated clothing can also be among the promoted methods if their moderate toxicity risks are clearly communicated.
  • Emphasize the data collection, education, and communication points from the Loudoun Lyme Disease Commission 2012 ten-point action plan.  Update County informational materials to reflect current research regarding tick ecology, the fact that chemical products most commonly used to control ticks have not been shown to reduce Lyme disease incidence, and that chemical products most commonly used to control ticks carry toxicity risks.


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy developed the paper in response to Loudoun County’s spraying of public parks with the chemical bifenthrin (Talstar), a pyrethroid classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen, and highly toxic to bees, fish, and aquatic invertebrates.  The spraying program was conducted in 2012 and 2013, and the Loudoun Lyme Commission has recommended continuation in 2014.  Schools and homeowner associations have also sprayed their properties with this chemical, following the County’s lead.  According to Loudoun County statistics, reported Lyme disease cases were 0.07-0.08% of population from 2008 through 2012, after peaking at 0.10% in 2007.


We encourage Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy members and friends to read the paper and share your views on this issue with us and with your elected Supervisor.