News & Events


It is August already so we are beginning to get ready for the fall Native Plant Sale on Saturday September 10, which will be here before you know it!

Once again we will have the gorgeous, pesticide-free plants from Nature By DesignHill House Farm & Nursery and Watermark Woods. You can visit the nurseries’ websites to see what they have in stock and, if you like, order in advance so you’ll know the plants will be there when you arrive.

Fun at the native plant sale

The plant sale is always fun!
Photo by S.A. Ferguson

In addition, we will again feature the very popular used books sale. If you have duplicate copies of nature books or ones you’d like to donate – preferably nature books with a local focus – please bring them by our office in the Carriage Museum at Morven Park (GPS location: 17171 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg) on any Saturday this month between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. We will be closed Labor Day weekend.

The plant sale will again be at the main parking lot at Morven Park from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. You can read more about it here.

 

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Her name was Meredyth but everyone knew her as Merry, “just like in Christmas,” she told one person.

When she died last week from a rare blood disease, Merry Breed was park manager at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, part of the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

“Merry was always interested in nature. She loved going on hikes and walking on trails,” said Phil Daley, a past president of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. “She even talked me into going on a night hike without a flashlight!”

Daley said that while she was still a pre-school teacher at Sterling Community Center, Merry worked with him to set up natural history camps in the 1990s for the Piedmont Environmental Council. “She later went on to work as a naturalist at Claude Moore Park,” said Daley.

A longtime member of and volunteer with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Merry shared her knowledge and her love of and joy in nature with fellow supporters of the organization, as well as with park visitors and parishioners of her beloved St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Sterling.

Merry Breed, children planting waystation

Merry Breed and friends after planting a waystation.

Here, in appreciation, are some Loudoun Wildlife tributes to Merry Breed.

Nicole Hamilton, Executive Director

Merry was an amazing woman. Her love of nature and passion for sharing it was infectious.  I knew her best through our Monarch campaign.  She rallied the people at St. Matthew’s to convert lawn in front of their church into a Monarch waystation garden that became alive with pollinators and welcomed Monarchs.

She made Monarch lifecycle costumes and put on plays for her congregation and others to share the Monarch story.  She worked with her team at Claude Moore and with teachers at Sterling Elementary School to plant milkweed, raise Monarch caterpillars and inspire others to do the same. She and I often talked about Monarchs and how the magic of it all never gets old.

Merry was fearless, would speak for wildlife and habitats and the human connections.  She shared her knowledge so freely.

Last February we did our amphibian program kickoff with her at Claude Moore and we walked through the woods at night in order to hear and see frogs. Bats flew through the trees as we shuffled along the path; toads and frogs called from the pond.  She was in her element and I will always remember and cherish those moments together.

Merry was keeping the magic alive every day and we know she continues to smile with us with every wild encounter and every heart touched by nature.

Sarah Steadman, Youth and Family Programs Chair

Most people know that Merry’s nickname comes from her name Meredyth, but I always imagined it could be short for ‘merriment.’

In everything she did, in every class she led, in all the classroom walls, nature center features, and event tables she crafted, and always in her wide-eyes and in the enthusiasm of her voice — especially when engaging with children — Merry was joyful! She gifted so many with her mirthful light and teaching.

I first met Merry when our Monarch conservation paths crossed, but we really bonded over our shared passion for environmental education and youth.

Evermore, when I visit Claude Moore Visitor Center, especially the beautiful Monarch waystation she established there, I will tip my hat to this master educator, passionate conservationist, and loving grandmother.

Ann Garvey, Audubon At Home Coordinator

It was at the very first orientation for volunteers on the Plant NoVA Natives campaign that I meet Merry. That evening in 2014, Merry was tooling around with one leg on a scooter recovering from a recent leg surgery.

She said, ‘Hi I’m Merry, just like in Christmas, and I’d like to help on this campaign.’

And help she did working the Loudoun Wildlife Native Plant Sale at Morven Park, handing out Plant NoVA Native guides. Whenever there was an event at Claude Moore Park, there was a display of information on Plant NoVA Natives that Merry had arranged.

She lived what she preached about the importance of native plants for our animals by helping to establish monarch waystations at Claude Moore, her church and her home.

Like many people, I will miss Merry as will the plants and animals she cared so much for.

Katherine Daniels, President

I worked a long shift with Merry at one of our plant sales a couple of years ago. She and I were exhausted as the event finally ended. We were two of the few left to clean up.

I was limping with sore knees and feet. She told me about her rheumatoid arthritis and immunologic treatment. She had such a great attitude regarding how much the latter helped her. She stayed and helped until we were done. It inspired me to push, too.

She was a very kind person who really loved nature!

 

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Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is grateful to receive again a donation from the Dulles Greenway’s Drive For Charity. The May 19 event set a record high for donations this year with an amazing $331,594.65 collected.  The Greenway says the day of the event was its highest traffic day since 2005.

The Greenway has collected and distributed more than #2.7 million to charities and in scholarships in the 11 years since the program began. Part of the money goes to give a scholarship to at least one student from every high school in Loudoun County.

In addition to Loudoun Wildlife, those receiving donations from the Drive for Charity were:

  • March of Dimes
  • Every Citizen Has Opportunity (ECHO)
  • Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS)
  • Fresh Air/Full Care
  • Dulles Greenway Scholarship Program
  • Loudoun Free Clinic

The Dulles Greenway is a privately owned 14-mile toll road that connects Washington Dulles International Airport with Leesburg.

DriveforCharity

L-R, VP Joe Coleman, Board member Jill Miller, the Greenway’s Public & Customer Relations Manager Terry Hoffman, Loudoun Wildlife Executive Director Nicole Hamilton, President Katherine Daniels and Secretary Bill Brown.

 

 

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The Center for Conservation Biology says that according to 2016 survey results for the Virginia bald eagle population, there are 1,007 occupied breeding territories. Yes, more than 1,000 pairs!

What’s really wonderful is that this total number represents a comeback for this magnificent bird from a low of 20 pairs in 1970. The Center says a federal ban on DDT and like compounds in 1972 led to a recovery beginning in the late 1970s.

The Center, at the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University, compiled more than 160 hours of aerial surveys, ground efforts in residential areas of lower Tidewater and observations from inland volunteers that documented the numbers. The densest areas of the breeding population are in the counties around the Chesapeake Bay,  including 75 pairs in Westmoreland County, 73 pairs in King George County and 71 pairs in Essex County..

The 2016 survey is the 60th year of the annual eagle survey initiated by Jackson Abbott and volunteers of the Virginia Society of Ornithology.

You can read more details about the survey here http://bit.ly/29jlG5B and see a map of where the birds are at an interactive portal.

 

 

 

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As we all know, it’s going to take a lot of work by all of us to restore the pollinator populations, including honey bees and Monarch butterflies, to healthy levels. Weather, pesticides, disease, habitat loss are contributing factors and we can’t control all of it but we need to do what we can.

The current administration has spoken out before about the need for federal government agencies to work together to help. Today, the administration released the Pollinator Partnership Action Plan (PPAP), which encourages and gives examples of possible partnerships as well as suggestions that you can follow on farms and in your yards and gardens.

Bruce Rodan, Assistant Director for Environmental Health for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said “As the President made clear, ultimate success can only be achieved through an all-hands-on-deck approach to create the necessary long-term change and fully internalize the value of these creatures to our well-being.” You can read his comments here.

The PPAP examples range from research projects with state governments to making land available to bee keepers and providing tax benefits to landowners who help apiaries. Another project teams a federal agency with the Xerces Society and private seed companies to test native milkweed for commercial production. Milkweed is, of course, essential to the lifecycle of the Monarch as it’s the only plant the butterfly lays its eggs on and that the caterpillars eat.

Locally, as you may know, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has worked with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on modifying mowing practices and teamed up with VDOT and Dominion Power to plant waystations at rest stops in the commonwealth.

Elswhere, the PPAP says, the Federal Highway Administration and six states in the Mid- and Southwest have informally designated the 1,500-mile I-35 as the Monarch Highway for migrating butterflies.

The report suggests – and we strongly support – planting more native pollinator plants and not using pesticides. Native plants support a greater variety of species in the local environment and are essential to their life cycle.

So take a few minutes to read the report, talk about the ideas, and do what you can. Make a difference.

monarch1-300Spring_Plant_sale2springplantsale3

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Do a good deed today: Drive along the Dulles Greenway!Driveforcharity

Today, Thursday, May 19, is the Dulles Greenway’s 11th annual Drive for Charity, which means all the tolls collected today will go to six Loudoun County charities and the Dulles Greenway Scholarship program. Last year, the Greenway donated almost $300,000 to local charities.

Your trip today will help these six non-profits:

  • Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
  • March of Dimes (National Capital Area)
  • Every Citizen Has Opportunities (ECHO)
  • Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS)
  • Fresh Air / Full Care
  • Loudoun Free Clinic

The scholarship program helps seniors from the county’s public high schools.

Take the Greenway today and make a difference!

 

 

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Mark your calendars for May 26 to attend a webinar about the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership and strategies to help preserve Monarch butterflies.

Biologists, habitat conservation experts and landscape scientists have been meeting for more than two years to develop science-based strategies to save Monarchs. The success of conservation efforts will need to involve government and non-government bodies as well as the help of citizens throughout North America.Monarch_20150823-98

Speakers at the seminar will present a summary of the Partnership’s work, including priorities for habitat protection and restoration, targets for monarch population to minimize risks of extinction, and identification of the most important risks to the Monarch population.

Dr. Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab, Ryan Drum from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wayne Thogmartin of the U.S. Geological Service will speak at the webinar, which is a collaboration between the Monarch Joint Venture and the National Conservation Training Center.

You will need to register for the 2 p.m. webinar.

Another effort to help Monarchs comes from the Monarch Joint Venture partner Naturedigger, which has developed an app, Monarch SOS.

Currently Monarch SOS helps users identify Monarchs and similar varieties of butterflies as well as different milkweeds and insects found in Milkweed habitat.  Eventually, Monarch SOS will allow users to record data and send it to participating programs such as Journey North and Monarch Watch.

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The last of the winter stalks are gone and your garden beds look lovely with tender green shoots coming up. But wait, something needs to go in the far corner, doesn’t it? There’s a gap by the pond too that some kind of shrub would fill perfectly. But what? Not to worry – our Spring Native Plant Sale is this Saturday, April 23, at Morven Park!Native_Plant_Sale_20120915-8

You will be able to browse and buy lots of Spring blooming flowers, shrubs, trees, vines and ferns and get some good advice too. There will also be Bluebird houses, Monarch rearing cages and other material, as well as books and even garden art.

The sale will be in the main parking lot at Morven Park, 17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bring your friends and neighbors and grab a bite to eat too - the Good Grubbin’ food truck will be there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., selling freshly made fajitas!

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You may have heard or seen a bird hitting your window as it flies from feeders to escape a predator or colliding with your patio door when it sees the reflection of trees and thinks it can fly to them. With luck, the bird has only lightly glanced off the glass or is only briefly stunned. Sadly, however, millions of birds die each year from flying into both buildings and building glass.

According to a new report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), “Annual bird mortality resulting from window collisions in the U.S. is estimated to be between 365- 988 million birds. “ carolina_wren_apr11BRCES Old Bridge north2 3-26-16

Lest you think the main culprits are gleaming, mirrored city skyscrapers, the USFWS document, “Reducing Bird Collisions with Buildings and Building Glass Best Practices,” says collisions with those structures account for less than 1% of bird deaths. The report says more than half, 56%, occur at buildings between one and three stories, 44% at urban and rural residences.

There are things you can do to help, however, and that is goal of the report in which the Service’s Division of Migratory Bird Management has compiled a list of things you can do to cut down on bird deaths from collisions. These range from suggestions for homeowners to reduce reflection to lighting changes and architectural designs for existing and new commercial buildings. For example, something as simple as adding screens or netting or adding patterns to the outside of your window at home will help.

The document also tells you how to gauge your home or office’s risk for bird collisions.

The suggestions not only will help the birds but also can reduce energy use and cut costs. Help our feathered friends and read this. You can find the study here  http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/pdf/management/reducingbirdcollisionswithbuildings.pdf

USFWS Report

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Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is delighted to hear that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), has received a Virginia Green Travel Star Award for Most Innovative Green Project for a commitment to green tourism practices through its Pollinator Habitat Program at Virginia Welcome Centers.

In 2014, VDOT launched the Pollinator Habitat Program working with Loudoun Wildlife on four pilot plots in four Northern Virginia, planting milkweed and other native plants that will help species of beneficial insects such as bees and Monarch_20150823-98butterflies, including the Monarch.

Last year, Loudoun Wildlife volunteers and Dominion Power representatives worked with VDOT to restore a 15,000 square foot meadow restoration as well as smaller plantings at a center on I-95 north in Dale City. The Dale City Rest Area on I-95 south was one of the four sites planted in 2014.

VDOT has worked on three other sites in southwestern Virginia and is planning other projects as the program expands around the state. You can find out more about VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program here http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/pollinator_habitat_program.asp.

You can start your own pollinator welcome center at home, at school, at your business and just about anywhere. Mark your calendar for the April 23 Loudoun Wildlife Native Plant sale at Morven Park and go to our website, www.loudounwildlife.org for events and information about Monarch butterflies and other species.

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