Archive for June, 2014

The Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and the Plant Ecology Lab of Towson University invite you to the following workshop:

Wavyleaf Grass Identification, Ecology and Management

A workshop with Dr. Vanessa Beauchamp of Towson University

Saturday, July 5

Great Falls, VA

(See below for times and registration details)

Wavyleaf grass is a recently-introduced invasive grass which is rapidly spreading in our area.  It has the potential to devastate forests in Virginia and Maryland.  Infestations are being actively sought by Early Detection teams in both states.  The public is being asked to assist in the early detection work by mapping and reporting the locations of any sightings.  Towson University has developed a smartphone app to assist in reporting.   

Dr. Vanessa Beauchamp, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and head of the Plant Ecology Lab at Towson University will be leading this workshop to train citizen scientists on the identification, ecology and management of this very invasive grass, including potential look-alikes, impacts and use of the new smartphone app.  The workshop will be held at Fraser Preserve and will be followed by a field trip to infestations within the Preserve.

Free and open to the public.  RSVP is required.

Two sessions:

9:30 am -12:00 pm


1:00 pm -3:30 pm



TheBanshee Reeks Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is accepting applications for its annual Saturday training program beginning September 13.

The program supports a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the management of natural resources and natural areas. An eight-month course is offered to 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 more information on the state program, go to

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, located at 21085 The Woods Road southeast of Leesburg, 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, continuing education and volunteer service projects. The course is open to anyone 18 years or older. There are no other prerequisites.

The total cost is $200, which includes all class materials. The deadline for application is September 1. Class size is limited to 20 students. For information, course schedule and application, go to, or 703-669-6257.


Virginia Master Naturalist programs are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, genetic information, marital, family, or veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.


We were delighted to have a few first-time birders with us on this walk, and we encourage more to join in the “edu-taining” fun and beauty of birding by joining us at our free Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sponsored bird walks.  No experience is necessary!

Consider joining us this SATURDAY:
Birding the Blue Ridge Center
Saturday, June 28, 8:00 a.m.
On the fourth Saturday of each month (except December), Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy leads a bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, a beautiful 900-acre preserve in northwestern Loudoun County. The property includes diverse wildlife habitats, including meadows, streams, and heavily forested slopes. Meet at the Education Center; bring binoculars. BRCES is located just north of Neersville at 11661 Harpers Ferry Road, Rte 671; detailed directions at
Questions: Contact Joe Coleman at 540-554-2542 or

Now for the June 14th bird walk report…

Seven birders, including three first timers, came for the monthly second Saturday bird walk at Banshee Reeks sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and The Friends of Banshee Reeks. Following three days of heavy thunderstorms, the morning was beautiful.  At first the birds seemed scarce, and yet we encountered 45 different species, including a juvenile PINE WARBLER.

The list follows:

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Red-shouldered Hawk
  4. Killdeer
  5. Rock Pigeon
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. Chimney Swift
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Pileated Woodpecker
  11. Eastern Wood-pewee
  12. Acadian Flycatcher
  13. Willow Flycatcher
  14. Eastern Phoebe
  15. Eastern Kingbird
  16. Red-eyed Vireo
  17. Blue Jay
  18. American Crow
  19. Fish Crow
  20. Tree Swallow
  21. Tufted Titmouse
  22. White-breasted Nuthatch
  23. Carolina Wren
  24. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  25. Eastern Bluebird
  26. Wood Thrush
  27. American Robin
  28. Gray Catbird
  29. Northern Mockingbird
  30. Brown Thrasher
  31. Cedar Waxwing
  32. Pine Warbler
  33. Prairie Warbler
  34. Ovenbird
  35. Common Yellowthroat
  36. Yellow-breasted Chat
  37. Scarlet Tanager
  38. Eastern Towhee
  39. Field Sparrow
  40. Song Sparrow
  41. Northern Cardinal
  42. Indigo Bunting
  43. Common Grackle
  44. Orchard Oriole
  45. American Goldfinch

Report by Del Sargent

Edited by Sarah Steadman


Barred Owl, Louisiana Waterthrush, & juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallows! WOW!

The highlights of this June bird walk, sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and led by Mary Ann Good & Joe Coleman on the privately-owned Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project, included a Barred Owl who flew across the wetlands right in front of us about 9 am, a Louisiana Waterthrush perched on a limb within 20 feet of us, and a number of juvenile Rough-winged Swallows perched in a tree, one of which was begging food from an adult.

Mary Ann Good, who manages the Bluebird Trail at the wetlands (and is looking for additional volunteers to help there), scouted on Tuesday & also saw two very vocal and active Yellow-breasted Chats and heard a Warbling Vireo. We also heard Willow and Acadian Flycatchers.

Among the several butterflies we saw were two different Monarch butterflies.

See below for complete eBird list of the birds seen at the Wetlands on Wednesday.

Information on upcoming events, including more bird walks, can be found here online.

Report by Joe Coleman
Edited by Sarah Steadman _____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project, Loudoun, US-VA
Jun 18, 2014 8:00-10:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)

48 species

  1. Wood Duck  2
  2. Mallard  1
  3. Great Blue Heron  2
  4. Great Egret  4
  5. Green Heron  6
  6. Black Vulture  1
  7. Turkey Vulture  5
  8. Killdeer  1
  9. Mourning Dove  2
  10. Yellow-billed Cuckoo  2
  11. Barred Owl  1
  12. Belted Kingfisher  3
  13. Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
  14. Eastern Wood-Pewee  1
  15. Acadian Flycatcher  2
  16. Willow Flycatcher  3
  17. Great Crested Flycatcher  2
  18. Eastern Kingbird  4
  19. White-eyed Vireo  1
  20. Blue Jay  X
  21. American Crow  X
  22. Fish Crow  X
  23. Northern Rough-winged Swallow  7
  24. Tree Swallow  8
  25. Barn Swallow  1
  26. Carolina Chickadee  2
  27. Tufted Titmouse  1
  28. White-breasted Nuthatch  1
  29. House Wren  2
  30. Carolina Wren  4
  31. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10
  32. Eastern Bluebird  4
  33. Gray Catbird  5
  34. Northern Mockingbird  2
  35. European Starling  5
  36. Louisiana Waterthrush  1
  37. Common Yellowthroat  8
  38. Northern Parula  1
  39. Prairie Warbler  1
  40. Eastern Towhee  3
  41. Chipping Sparrow  1
  42. Field Sparrow  6
  43. Song Sparrow  2
  44. Northern Cardinal  5
  45. Indigo Bunting  2
  46. Red-winged Blackbird  10
  47. Common Grackle  8
  48. Orchard Oriole  2

View this checklist online at
This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Free Garden Lecture — Evening Tour of a Pollinator Wildflower Meadow

Please join the Loudoun County Master Gardeners Thursday, 7 pm, July 10 for a walking tour of the 5 acre wildflower meadow at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Leesburg. Naturalist Ron Circe’ will lead us as we explore the David McCarthy Memorial Pollinator meadow, now in its second year, and explain the steps taken to create the meadow, the wildflowers that have since appeared, and the pollinators it has attracted thus far.

The pollinator meadow is part of the park’s 725 acres of varied habitats that include river bottomland, fields, mixed hardwood forests, ponds, hedgerows, wetlands and meadows. The park is also home to beaver, deer, foxes, bats, numerous species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and plants and Ron will have interesting stories to share about the park’s history and its inhabitants. Ron Circe’ became the park manager after being a research scientist with US Geological Survey for 20 years, and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology and ecology from Texas A&M.

Trails at Banshee Reeks are 6 feet wide and the meadow walk is not difficult. Please wear appropriate shoes and use insect repellent. The talk will be held in the BRNP Visitors Center in the event of rain. Directions from Leesburg: Head south on King Street (Rte. 15); Take left onto State Rte. 621/Evergreen Mills Road. Go 5.2 miles. Just past the Landfill turn right on State Rte. 771. After 1 mile, turn left onto Woods Road.

For more information about the lecture or the Loudoun County VCE 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.


Milkweed and Nectar Plant Sale this Thursday

Date: Thursday, June 26

Time: 3:00 – 7:00

Location: Morven Park, large parking lot (17263 Southern Planter Ln, Leesburg)

We have almost 2000 native, pesticide-free milkweed plants – Swamp milkweed and Common milkweed and nectar plants (Goldenrod, Aster, New York Ironweed, Boneset, Sneezeweed, Liatris, and Bergamot). The nectar plants are plugs and will be cut up ahead of time into smaller packets.

All plants sold by Loudoun Wildlife are $3 each

We also have a new Loudoun native plant grower coming to share her plants as well – she’ll have all sorts of native nectar plants even beyond what we have listed above for you too!

This is most likely our last sale until the fall so if you need milkweed and native pesticide-free nectar plants – which we all do! – please stop by! Monarchs are here and the more we plant the better – for this year and beyond (they’re perennials and will come back!)

The milkweed plants were cut back for shipping but will regrow quickly.

Cash or check preferred but we can also take credit card.

For some extra fun – we’ll bring some monarch caterpillars and chrysalides for you to look at!

We’re finding eggs so if you have a milkweed patch be sure to keep a lookout for Monarchs!


Sandhill Crane Reunion

By Nicole Hamilton

I thought I’d do a posting about this Sandhill Crane adventure because it’s such a wonderful story of diverse people and organizations coming together to help a bird.

The video from Saturday is here on YouTube ( but the story is bigger than Saturday so I’ll share what I know below but there are others who were involved or otherwise touched by this crane and I hope that they will chime in here too. [Watch for an even more complete story in the Washington Post this coming week!]

(turn up the volume towards the end to hear the calls)

On June 2, I saw a posting on a friends facebook page…..Sandhill Crane walking through neighborhood in Ashburn.  I knew that wasn’t good. Later that day, I heard that Loudoun County Animal Control picked up the Sandhill Crane and brought it to Belinda Burwell at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center ( That was good.

That evening, Belinda sent over an email asking if I knew why the bird was here. The only thing we can surmise is that somehow it got lost.

Belinda evaluated the crane and saw that it had a good fear of humans and although it had an elevated lead level, it was healthy overall. The next question was, where to release it?  Belinda called various places and Joe Coleman and Laura McGranaghan checked the local birding reports. Nothing promising popped up. The Sandhill Crane, named Kevin by the residents who found it, was lonely and not eating much.

So what other options were there? My husband, Gil, and I have a small plane, a Cessna Cardinal. He is the pilot and loves to fly as much as any bird I know. I knew this Sandhill Crane needed a lift, so I asked him, “Are you up for an adventure?” Without hesitation (especially since flying was involved) he said yes. So I told Belinda we could fly the bird where it needed to go.

Still the question remained…where exactly? You can’t just look in a field guide and check the range maps. You need to know exactly where a flock is – exactly. So we turned to Cornell’s eBird database ( This data is from sightings by birders across the country who go out birding and come back and check off what they saw. It’s real-time information on where birds are and it can be narrowed down to just the current month.  Joe Coleman pulled up the granular species data and sent that to me.  I zoomed in on Michigan and Ohio as they were the closest places with flocks of Sandhill Cranes.

Next step….groundtruthing.  The eBird data helped us see hot spots but we still needed specifics. So I looked at the areas where the most sightings popped up and pulled up the Audubon Michigan ( and Audubon Ohio ( websites. These are big states but luckily they have Chapters within them responsible for specific parts of their states. Comparing the eBird hotspots to the chapters, I started emailing the Presidents of these chapters: “We have a wayward Sandhill Crane here in northern Virgina….” At the same time, Donna Quinn posted a note to the Birding Ohio  facebook page.

Next, the ideas started rolling in – for locations in both Ohio and Michigan. As emails and comments rolled in from the birding community (Sherri Smith, Lathe Clafin, Ron Hoffman, Gary Siegrist, Mike Sefton, Nora Ebie, Stan Searles, Liz Clingman, Joe Brooks and many more), The Howell Nature Center in Michigan ( became the favorite location for where to take our wayward traveler. The nature center has a wildlife rehab center, 2 non-releasable Sandhill Cranes and 3 Sandhill cranes that were being cared for and prepared for a summer release! And, there are wild flocks around the area that they can be released into for fall migration.

We were in business! So, Belinda talked with the people at the Howell Nature Center and got the green light from the US Fish and Wildlife Service for us to do this.

Next, Gil checked the weather and readied the plane. This is a very large bird so the question was what size carrier could we fit in the plane? By removing the back seat, we had plenty of room.

Saturday, June 14th had a forecast of beautiful weather here, along our flight path and in Howell, Michigan so I coordinated with the volunteers at the nature center and the plan was in motion.

On Saturday, we met Belinda and Jim at the Leesburg Airport at 7:30am, transferred our special passenger to the plane and by 8:15 were taxiing down the runway. I texted Ron Cleveland, the volunteer at the Howell Nature Center, and let him know that we would arrive at about 11:30am and off we went.

The flight was calm and smooth the whole way, and our Sandhill, while it had to stand hunched, was calm as well.

Three hours later, we arrived on schedule and Ron was there to greet us. We transferred the carrier to his van and rode to the nature center.  Ron drove back towards the flight cages and was met by an intern, Andy.

Because Sandhill Cranes can imprint easily with people, the rehab center is very careful not to allow many people near the flight cage. As a result, Gil and I had to stand outside the area while Ron and Andy carried the cage in. As they went in though we gave them our cameras to record the reunion, and we are so glad we did!

At first, everything was quiet and Gil and I wondered what was happening but then all the Sandhill Cranes sounded off in a joyous chorus! It was magnificent! I can only imagine how this Sandhill Crane, lost and lonesome, for who knows how long, felt to be reunited with it kind!

It is now in the care of the Howell Nature Center, being fed mice and other foods fit for Sandhill Cranes, and bonding with its new friends. We hope to hear updates and maybe even see photos of the final release back into the wild!

Gil and I flew this wayward friend to Michigan but as I started out this story, there were so many people involved in making this reunion possible. Thank you all!

The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center is a phenomenal organization. We are so thankful for all the work they do!

Learn more about Sandhill Cranes (and check out their range map…with Virginia obviously blank and the challenge we faced):

Please enjoy a few photos from Saturday:


Art and Science Combine in Crowd-Sourced Dance and Plant Event

When: Saturday, June 21, 3:00 – 6:00
Where: Loudoun Soccer Park, 19798 Sycolin Rd, Leesburg, VA
Please sign up online:
Questions: contact Nicole Hamilton at


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is joining forces with Moving for Monarchs and Monarch Watch to create a unique opportunity for local participants to take action in a nation-wide effort to save the monarch butterflies.

In an event designed to build community and enable people to take significant steps toward preserving the magnificent monarch migration, attendees will each plant two or three plants in a Monarch Waystation. They will also take part in a Monarch Move event during which the crowd will experience firsthand how we are all connected in the “Dance of Life.”

Participants’ monarch memories and stories will be gathered by the Moving for Monarchs team, and from these the group will create a short movement dance phrase. Along with Monarch Moves gathered in Mexico this past March, this brief movement story will become part of a growing international, crowd-sourced choreography.

This Dance and Plant event will take place at Loudoun Soccer Park, 19798 Sycolin Rd, Leesburg, VA, on Saturday, June 21, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but due to the nature of the event, space is limited and so pre-registration is recommended. Registration is online at  All ages are welcome, and no experience in gardening or dancing is necessary.

Milkweed plants (common and swamp milkweed) will be available for purchase, $3 per plant!

About Moving for Monarchs

“Moving for Monarchs” is a dance, film, and photography project designed to capture the public’s imagination while demonstrating that human beings and pollinators are intricately tied together in the “dance of life” and ultimately share the same fate.

The project has three goals: to raise awareness of the essential role of all pollinators in the “dance of life,” to highlight the plight of those pollinators, and to inspire grassroots action to restore habitats for monarchs and other pollinators by adding milkweeds and nectar plants to gardens.

Moving for Monarchs has conducted Monarch Move Events in Michoacan, Mexico, beginning the project where the monarchs begin their annual migration. Leesburg, VA, is the group’s first stop in the U.S. coinciding with National Pollinator Week. The team is tracing the migration, gathering the stories and Monarch Moves of people along the way who are working on behalf of the iconic butterfly.

“Moving for Monarchs: The Awakening”:


June 16-22 is National Pollinator Week…how are YOU celebrating?  Are you planting nectar plants, reading up on the most current news for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, or attending a Loudoun Wildlife event this week?

The Make Way for Monarchs organization shares this:

“Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 16-22!

Did you know these hard-working animals help pollinate over 75% of our flowering plants, and nearly 75% of our crops. Often we may not notice the hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and flies that carry pollen from one plant to another as they collect nectar. Yet without them, wildlife would have fewer nutritious berries and seeds, and we would miss many fruits, vegetables, and nuts, like blueberries, squash, and almonds…not to mention CHOCOLATE and COFFEE…all of which depend on pollinators.

Pollinators need your help! There is increasing evidence that many pollinators are in decline. However, there are some simple things you can do at home to encourage pollinator diversity and abundance like plant a pollinator garden, build a bee block, provide and protect nesting sites, plus much more:

Find a pollinator event and put yours on the map at the The Pollinator Partnership

How You Can Help

Pollinators need your help! There is increasing evidence that many pollinators are in decline.  However, there are some simple things you can do at home to encourage pollinator diversity and abundance.

1) Plant a Pollinator Garden

2) Build a Bee Block

3) Avoid or Limit Pesticide Use

However you decide to honor pollinators this week, we hope you learn more, feel inspired, and take action to help save these important members of our natural community.

pollinator week

Sarah Steadman


here’s a great video from Cornell that tells all about the hostile situation a Monarch caterpillar is born into on a milkweed leaf and the strategies it uses to overcome the milkweed plant’s defenses so it can gobble it up!