Entries tagged with “Balls Bluff”.


We had a fun outing last Saturday with John DeMary leading our group at Balls Bluff Park in Leesburg.

While many of the wildflowers typically in bloom this time of year had already put on their show, there were still a number of great wildflowers to enjoy and we identified and talked about more than 30 different species. 

Some of the wildflowers we saw include Wild Ginger, Early Saxifrage, Shooting Star, Spring Beauties, Bluets, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, blue cohosh, chickweed, squirrel corn, phlox, wild geranium, rue anemone, and a nice variety of violets.

Paw Paw trees were in full bloom and we saw Zebra Swallowtail butterflies flying around. Red Admiral butterflies were also seen.

On the amphibian side of things, Gray Tree Frogs were found by a few of us as they sat in the open and sometimes called.

Black snakes were quite active and we enjoyed watching one climb a tree. A Garter snake also met us along the trail and we enjoyed watching it as it headed back into the leaf litter.

We’ve posted a few photos from the walk on our facebook page.

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Donna Quinn, Germaine Connolly, and Mary Ann Good took an impromptu ”green” walk for St. Paddie’s Day at Balls Bluff National Cemetery along the Potomac north of Leesburg this past Saturday.  Here is Mary Ann’s report:

Balls Bluff is a great place for wildflowers, which we enjoyed between birds.  Birds not commonly heard singing were singing this morning as it warmed up and the fog cleared.  What is more cheering than the Winter Wren’s tinkling song? 

We also heard a song I’d never heard before and traced it to a Brown Creeper, which I’ve often heard delivering its call of 3 high thin notes, but never its full song before, repeated again and again. 

Other highlights were a Barred Owl that we ran into twice and unexpectedly seeing four Red-shouldered Hawks circling together over the trees, with two additional ones calling from opposite sides.  We couldn’t figure out what would have brought 4 together at this time of year. 

There was also a very lovable Garter Snake that put up with a little snake-handling for photos, and of course wildflowers!  Many varieties blooming and many more to come!  The Bluebells are just on the verge of an amazing show.  This is a gem of a spot in the spring.

Bird species seen: Canada Goose, Wood Duck – 4-6, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk – 6, Killdeer, Barred Owl – 2 (1 heard), Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, No. Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, E. Phoebe – 3, Am. Crow, Fish Crow, Car. Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper – singing, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren – singing, Golden-crowned Kinglet – 2, Am. Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, No. Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Am. Goldfinch.

 

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Harry Pavulaan posted his butterfly sightings on the VA-leps listserv yesterday! Makes me eager to get outside today and see what butterflies I come across as well! 

Today in Leesburg (Loudoun County), all in Balls Bluff Regional Park except where noted:

6+ Summer Azures (Celastrina neglecta) spring form, 3 confirmed by net/release. One male had intense, exaggerated black spots beneath, a darkened margin, and checkered margins, looking much like a Northern Azure beneath. Note: upperside forewing has distinct bright white wing veins along the leading edge of the forewing.

1 Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) – Actually, a pleasant surprise, confirmed by net/release but I just wanted to test myself. I was certain it was a Spring Azure by its duller, more violet blue appearance, lower and weaker flight. Ironically, the underside was very white, almost like a summer form Summer Azure! Spring Azure males lack the distinct white veins, they are subdued.

1 Mourning Cloak

1 Question Mark

2 Eastern Commas

1 Orange Sulphur (Balls Bluff Elementary School front lawn)

Should be more stuff flying tomorrow!

Harry Pavulaan

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Sixteen people joined us for our walk yesterday morning with John DeMary at Balls Bluff in Leesburg. John started out by making sure we all had the Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and doing a practice run of “keying” a wildflower plant while we assembled in the parking area.  It was a nice refresher on how to use the book which is an excellent guide once you learn how to use it…..I’ll admit, I personally resisted for awhile, preferring picture guides, but I’m now one of the converts. :)

As we started out into the woods, the morning chill (about 55 degrees) kept many of the wildflowers in their closed white_troutlily_balls_bluff_4_18_09night time slumber but within about 30 minutes, as soon as the sun started to hit them, the forest floor was carpeted with the tiny white flowers of Spring Beauties and others.

We saw 26 different wildflowers in bloom and many others getting ready to bloom soon.  The ones in bloom yesterday were: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, White troutlily, Yellow troutlily, Toad shade, Wild ginger, Pussytoes, Blue cohosh, Virginia bluebells, Garlic mustard, Smooth rockcress, Cutleaf toothwort, Star chickweed, Redbud, Squirrel-corn, Dutchman’s breeches, Wild geranium, Squaw-root, Spring beauty, Shooting star, Rue anemone, Bluets, Virginia saxifrage, Speedwell, Blue violet, Smooth yellow violet, and Small flower crowfoot.

The bluebells carpeted the floodplain area while Spring beauties carpeted the upland forest area. Troutlilies covered areas of the banks and the bluets were sprinkled in along the trail.  We did our part throughout the walk to pull the invasive garlic mustard but boy is there a lot of it there – choking out bluebells and others.

In addition to the wildflowers, we had great views of a Barred Owl that watched us as we learned the difference between stinging nettle and garlic mustard, Ruby-crowned kinglets that flitted through a scrubby area along the trail, painted turtles that basked in the sun along the river, gray tree frogs calling, a couple of huge centipedes, and mourning cloak butterflies. 

Oh, and did I mention the snakes (heh heh) – yea, it was *really cool* – a few of us went up to an area where black snakes live and saw three wonderful ones coiled around a branch, warming up, and perhaps selecting mates.  It was wonderful. We also saw a few garter snakes slipping through the leaf litter, no doubt in search of tasty earthworms or beetles for lunch.

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