Archive for July, 2014

Learning about WetlandsThe Banshee Reeks Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is accepting applications through September 1 for its annual Saturday training program that will begin 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, ornithology, management and conservation of ecological systems such as wetlands, forest and urban/suburban settings, as well as teaching and interpretive skills in citizen science.  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. Class size is limited to 20 students. For information, course schedule and application, go to, or call 703-669-6257.

Many Virginia Master Naturalist Program participants have used the knowledge and experience gained from their training to support Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy projects and community activities.


The 11 people on this regular bird walk (every 4th Saturday of each month) at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship spent most of their time in the forest with only a short walk along Butterfly Alley on the power line. The walk,  led by Joe Coleman and Elliott & Nancy Kirschbaum, followed Arnold Road to the Sweet Run Loop, to Butterfly Alley, and returning by the westernmost segment of the Sweet Run Loop. We also took two jogs, the Old Bridge Trail & Little Turtle Trail, down to Piney Run.

The highlights of this exciting walk included two American Kestrels along the power line a little east of where it crosses Arnold Rd, the same location as last month, and a Yellow-breasted Chat who flew in and perched near us while we tallying at the end of the walk next to the Monarch Butterfly Waystation.

The three Baltimore Orioles who flew in while we were tallying was also nice. In addition to 46 bird species, we found 14 different species of butterflies after the heavy clouds lifted, including one Monarch! The most common butterflies today were Clouded & Orange Sulphurs. The previous day, while checking out the ford on Sweet Run to see if it was easily passable, my wife & I also saw a Monarch along Butterfly Alley as well as several Great Spangled Fritillaries; today’s Monarch was nectaring among the thistle near the Center’s Monarch Waystation.

Don’t forget this Saturday’s Loudoun County Butterfly Count which stretches from Leesburg to the Blue Ridge Center, beginners and experienced butterflies are all welcome.  There will be two teams at the Blue Ridge Center, one of the count’s most productive locations. To register for the Butterfly Count event, go to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy online.

Reported by Joe Coleman
Edited/Posted by Sarah Steadman

The complete list follows:

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship – MFF01, Loudoun, US-VA
Jul 26, 2014 8:00 AM – 11:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.5 mile(s)
46 species

  1. Turkey Vulture  5
  2. Red-shouldered Hawk  1
  3. Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
  4. Mourning Dove  10
  5. Red-bellied Woodpecker  5
  6. Downy Woodpecker  7
  7. American Kestrel  2
  8. Eastern Wood-Pewee  12
  9. Acadian Flycatcher  15
  10. Eastern Phoebe  1
  11. Great Crested Flycatcher  1
  12. White-eyed Vireo  2
  13. Yellow-throated Vireo  1
  14. Red-eyed Vireo  15
  15. Blue Jay  2
  16. American Crow  8
  17. Fish Crow  1
  18. Tree Swallow  3
  19. Barn Swallow  27
  20. Carolina Chickadee  4
  21. Tufted Titmouse  6
  22. White-breasted Nuthatch  4
  23. Carolina Wren  3
  24. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4
  25. Eastern Bluebird  8
  26. Wood Thrush  5
  27. Gray Catbird  2
  28. Brown Thrasher  1
  29. Northern Mockingbird  1
  30. European Starling  1
  31. Cedar Waxwing  3
  32. Common Yellowthroat  3
  33. Yellow-breasted Chat  1
  34. Eastern Towhee  2
  35. Chipping Sparrow  4
  36. Field Sparrow  8
  37. Grasshopper Sparrow  3
  38. Song Sparrow  1
  39. Scarlet Tanager  3
  40. Northern Cardinal  5
  41. Indigo Bunting  9
  42. Common Grackle  1
  43. Baltimore Oriole  3
  44. House Finch  4
  45. American Goldfinch  9
  46. House Sparrow  6

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


If so, please consider collecting them from now through the fall and send them to Monarch Watch so that we have plants for next year.

Monarch Watch has a terrific system down — they are getting a 65% germination rate (far better than the typical 2% in the wild) and they are growing them pesticide free!!!

Here’s the call from help from Monarch Watch and here are the instructions on how to collect and package them up:

Monarch Watch is seeking volunteers to collect wild native milkweed seeds for our Bring Back the Monarchs campaign. Thanks to the donations of over 90 seed sources from across the United States, Monarch Watch was able to distribute more than 50,000 native milkweeds this past spring. But we could have distributed more! Due to the lack of seeds from specific ecoregions we were unable to fill numerous orders from the Pacific Northwest, Desert Southwest, the Gulf coast and southern Atlantic coast. 

For complete details of our 2014 campaign please see:

Thank you for your interest and continued support!

Address for mailing:
Monarch Watch
Foley Hall
2021 Constant Ave.
Lawrence, KS 66047





BRCES_3Our 18th Annual Butterfly count is coming up and you can join in if you’d like – no experience needed, you’ll learn “on the fly” so to speak :) from our expert team leads.

Across our area other counts have already taken place and people are asking “where are all the butterflies?” Did the harsh cold of the Polar Vortex kill a lot during the winter? Will the summer broods make up for it? If butterfly numbers are down what does that mean for other species (like birds) that eat them?

Join us for the count on Aug 2nd as we put on our Citizen Science hats and find as many butterflies as we can!

Signup and more information is here:


The highlights of this morning’s regular monthly bird walk, sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Friends of Banshee Reeks, were three (possibly four) Yellow-breasted Chats, three of which were well seen as they perched high in trees and chatted away; a Cooper’s Hawk carrying prey as it flew overhead; and two Eastern Towhees who perched high in shrubs and were singing away. Most interesting were the birds that have been common on previous July walks at Banshee Reeks that were absent, such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Kingbird, Starlings, and Cedar Waxwings. Del Sargent, co-leader of the walk, maintains a spreadsheet of birds seen at Banshee Reeks by monthly walk date, and all of these have been seen on five or more of the previous seven July walks at the preserve.

Birding and Butterflies together: Another hightlight was that the meadows are full of Common Milkweed, especially the area between the pond & Goose Creek, and while we found only one Monarch butterfly we were hopeful that there were many caterpillars hidden among the milkweed plants.

See below for complete eBird list of the birds seen at Banshee Reeks.  Also, please see the online events calendar for the regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Friends of Banshee Reeks.

The next event is for CHILDREN and their FAMILIES, and we want to especially INVITE you to sign up for this wonderful event.

Birding Experience for Children
Friday, July 18, 6:00 p.m. – dusk
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship.
Come learn about our bluebird trail monitoring by helping us do a weekly survey of the nest boxes, then join some of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s birders for an evening stroll looking and listening for the birds and other interesting critters that call the Blue Ridge Center their home. Appropriate for children ages 8 to 12 and their families; limited to 18 participants.
Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact Phil Daley at 540-338-6528 or

Report by Joe Coleman
Edited & Posted by Sarah Steadman

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, US-VA
Jul 12, 2014 8:00 AM – 10:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Total: 44 species

  1. Green Heron  3
  2. Black Vulture  1
  3. Turkey Vulture  6
  4. Cooper’s Hawk  1
  5. Red-tailed Hawk  1
  6. Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
  7. Mourning Dove  6
  8. Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
  9. Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
  10. Downy Woodpecker  2
  11. Northern Flicker  1
  12. Pileated Woodpecker  1
  13. Eastern Wood-Pewee  15
  14. Acadian Flycatcher  3
  15. Great Crested Flycatcher  1
  16. White-eyed Vireo  2
  17. Red-eyed Vireo  3
  18. American Crow  3
  19. Tree Swallow  2
  20. Barn Swallow  2
  21. Carolina Chickadee  3
  22. Tufted Titmouse  2
  23. White-breasted Nuthatch  4
  24. Carolina Wren  1
  25. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
  26. Eastern Bluebird  4
  27. Wood Thrush  9
  28. American Robin  25
  29. Gray Catbird  2
  30. Brown Thrasher  2
  31. Northern Mockingbird  3
  32. Ovenbird  2
  33. Common Yellowthroat  6
  34. Yellow-breasted Chat  3
  35. Eastern Towhee  2
  36. Chipping Sparrow  3
  37. Field Sparrow  13
  38. Song Sparrow  2
  39. Scarlet Tanager  2
  40. Northern Cardinal  6
  41. Indigo Bunting  6
  42. Brown-headed Cowbird  5
  43. House Finch  3
  44. American Goldfinch  15

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Ida Lee Common Buckeye Aug 2 2008 1Saturday, August 2, 9:00 a.m.

It’s time for the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s 18th Annual Butterfly Count. Come and have fun while contributing to butterfly conservation.

You will visit locations that include butterfly gardens, sanctuaries, roadside wildflower areas and parks. We typically count over 2,000 butterflies in this single day and spot as many as 50 species.

Our count circle stretches from White’s Ferry in the east to the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Center in the west and south to Lincoln.

No experience necessary, all ages welcome – you will be teamed with experienced leaders.

There’s a $3 fee per adult that we pass through to the North American Butterfly Association, waived for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy members as a member benefit. No fee for those under 18.

Registration Required: Sign Up Online or contact Nicole Hamilton at


fieldIn February 2014, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy issued a position paper “Rebalancing Loudoun County’s Approach to Lyme Disease Mitigation”.  In this paper, we summarized available research indicating that personal protective measures and other alternatives are safer and more effective than broad-based pesticide applications in reducing Lyme disease incidence.  Throughout the spring, we engaged in ongoing communication on this issue with the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the Lyme Disease Commission.


As Loudoun County ends fiscal year 2014 and begins fiscal year 2015, we are pleased to report two positive outcomes from the July 8 Board of Supervisors Finance/Government Services and Operations Committee meeting, which are consistent with key recommendations in our February position paper.


1)  Fiscal year 2014


Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend stated for the public record the Lyme Commission and County staff recommendation NOT to spray for ticks in Loudoun County public parks this year. Although $3,000 for tick spraying in five parks was requested by the Lyme Commission and approved by the Board of Supervisors in February, Dr. Goodfriend stated that based on May-June surveillance results, “there has been no spraying in the County parks this year.”


2)  Fiscal year 2015


The Finance/Government Services and Operations Committee voted unanimously to recommend appropriation of $25,000 requested by the Lyme Commission for Lyme disease awareness materials, but NOT to appropriate  $45,000 requested for possible tick surveillance and pesticide treatment.   Discussion of the latter request was deferred to a future point when the Lyme Commission expects to make a full Integrated Pest Management (IPM) presentation to the Board of Supervisors Finance/Government Services and Operations Committee.


The full video recording of the July 8 Committee meeting can be accessed at


The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy board is grateful to the organizations that co-signed our position paper, and to members and friends who have taken the time to express their views on this important issue.   Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy looks forward to continuing to engage with the Board of Supervisors and the Lyme Commission in the future on matters pertaining to Lyme disease prevention.


Celebrating National Moth Week

Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth - yes, found here in Loudoun!

Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth – yes, found here in Loudoun!

Thursday, July 17, 8:00 p.m., Morven Park.

Discover why moths constitute about 90% of all the Lepidoptera on the planet: not bad for a group of animals that flew with some of our most well-known dinosaurs!

Join Dr. David Adamski and the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy in reviewing the most common moth families found in the Capitol Region.

After sunset, he’ll help us identify the moths that are attracted to a black light set up on the grounds at Morven Park.

Registration required: Sign Up Online ( Questions: Contact Jill Miller at


cover for flierRemember the ravens nesting last year on the Purcellville water tower? Well they returned again this year and Sandra Stein who lives near the water tower became captivated by them – so much so that she created a wonderful children’s book that was just released!

She writes, “Every time I’d hear them squawk, I’d drop whatever I was doing and run out with my camera.  It became quite an obsession.”  We are so happy that watching these birds captured her attention because Sandra has put together a wonderful story!

The title of the book is the Water Tower Ravens and you can purchase it online at Amazon or at Around the Block bookstore in Purcellville (which, by the way, is also just around the block from the water tower…at least as the raven flies ;)

SANDRA KOVACS STEIN is an avid photographer who loves taking pictures of nature and wildlife, particularly in her little corner of the world.  When a pair of ravens built a nest near the top of a water tower right across from her balcony, they became her main subjects for months to follow.  This book was inspired by the many photos she took of the little ravens learning to fly.

Sandra moved to Purcellville seven years ago, and developed a passion for capturing the changing seasons, neighborhood animals, birds, flowers, skies. She has a friend and walking partner who shares her passion and they often take walks along the path and through town with their cameras.  Neither one has an SLR or professional type camera.  They just love to point and click.

The WATER TOWER RAVENS is Sandra’s first picture book, and also marks her debut as a writer for children, which shows it’s never too late to get started.  She has two children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren who are no doubt enjoying the story of the Water Tower Ravens!


Monarchs are flying through Loudoun! They are laying eggs and caterpillars are growing! If you plant milkweed and native nectar plants in your garden you may attract them. You can just enjoy them but it’s also really fun to raise and release them through the summer too! Check out this video on how you can raise Monarchs and experience the magic!

Note: The key to success is having enough milkweed for caterpillars to eat (they eat a lot) – 10 healthy plants is a great number

More information is on our website:

A big Thank You to Charlie Snyder and Susan Becilia for putting this video together!