Entries tagged with “Claude Moore Park”.

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!



DSC_3795On June 23th, Andy Rabin and Kevin Munroe led another great field trip to find and identify as many dragonflies and damselflies as they could.

The group visited Bles Park, Claude Moore Park and Willowsford.

A full list of the sightings (33 species) is below and reference of the first place they saw them during the day.

Bles Park
Claude Moore Park (CM)
Willowsford Farm (WF)

DRAGONFLIES – 23 species
Common Green Darner, Swamp Darner (WF), Unicorn Clubtail (CM), Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Lancet Clubtail (WF), Cobra Clubtail, Dragonhunter, Arrowhead Spiketail (WF), Prince Baskettail, Common Pondhawk, Spangled Skimmer, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Needham’s Skimmer, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Painted Skimmer, Great Blue Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Eastern Amberwing, Autumn Meadowhawk, Carolina Saddlebags, Black Saddlebags (CM)

DAMSELFLIES – 10 species
Ebony Jewelwing (WF), Slender Spreadwing, Blue-fronted Dancer, Variable Dancer (WF), Powdered Dancer, Blue-tipped Dancer, Stream Bluet, Citrine Forktail, Fragile Forktail (WF), Eastern Forktail

Photo by Sheryl Pollock.


We had a lovely day for our butterfly and dragonfly walk last Saturday morning at Claude Moore Park in Sterling. With a slight breeze and upper 70s, it was perfect for not only the insects that we were looking for but also for all of us.  Twenty-two people came out for the walk and it was great to have so many kids along with us!  Being lower to the ground they’re great at spotting and helping with netting.

We started the walk at the garden in front of the visitors center and came across a number of butterflies known asclaude_moore_park_dragonfly_walk_1 skippers.  Larry Meade helped with the id as these little guys often look similar with their brown and orange colors.

We then walked along the field and caught our first dragonfly. Andy Rabin, our leader for the walk, demonstrated the right way to use a net without harming the insect and showed the group how to hold a dragonfly without hurting it’s wings.

From here we meandered over to the little garden pond behind the house.  Green frogs were calling and were very comfortable with us checking them out.  We also saw our first Wood Nymph butterfly of the day.  Normally less common, this butterfly became the most frequently spotted butterfly for us, with many regular species going unseen. We think the late spring rains have something to do with this.

claude_moore_park_dragonfly_walk_2As we walked through the field on the other side of the house, one of the kids spotted a Wandering Glider dragonfly. With Andy’s guidance, he put the net over the top of the dragonfly and it gracefully flew to the top as Andy predicted. Andy then removed it from the net. We all got to see the dragonfly close up and the kids got the experience holding a dragonfly (using the proper technique :) ). They seemed to really enjoy it!

For the finale of the walk, we headed to the ponds. While female dragonflies hang out more near fields, males are over at the ponds patrolling their territories along the pond bank. I’ll provide a full list of our species seen below.  While enjoying the dragonflies, we also spotted a Pearl Crescent butterfly which we put into a small viewing container for a few minutes for greater inspection.

All in all, a wonderful day, butterfly numbers and diversity were fewer than in the past but the dragonflies made a nice showing!

Here’s the full list of what we saw:

Dragonflies and Damselflies:Common Green Darner, Prince Baskettail, Halloween Pennant, Slaty Skimmer,Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Blue Dasher, Wandering Glider, Spot-winged Glider, Eastern Amberwing, Carolina Saddlebags, Black Saddlebags, and Familiar Bluet.

Butterflies:Spicebush Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Clouded Sulpher, Eastern-tailed Blue, Silvery Checkerspot, Pearl Crescent, Red-spotted Purple, Common Wood Nymph, Monarch, Common Sootywing, Least Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Zabulon Skipper, Dun Skipper.

If you’d like to get your fill of butterflies this season – sign up for our Loudoun County Butterfly Count!  It’s a great way to explore nature, contribute to citizen science and learn some new species of butterflies.  All experience levels are welcome.  We form teams that are led by experienced butterfliers (that’s a new word :) ) and you can participate for the full day or just park of the day.

We also have a program this Sunday, The Magic of Monarchs – you can read more about that in our July nature programs calendar. I’ll be talking about the Monarch butterfly life cycle, habitat here and in Mexico, and the amazing phenomena of their migration to Mexico. Great for all ages!


Monday, January 19th, being the National Day of Service, offers an excellent opportunity to rediscover the natural beauty that makes Loudoun County such a special place to live.  From scenic and windswept hilltops of the Catoctin and Blue Ridge Mountains, to wild fields and floodplains that lead to the great Potomac River, Loudoun County has some wonderful wild places to explore. 

On this National Day of Service, visit one of the many parks, nature sanctuaries or preserves, which are free and open to the public. Consider bringing a friend who is unacquainted with land conservation efforts, and introduce them to the importance of conserved land and connecting with nature.

And if you enjoy getting outdoors and engaging in efforts to conserve our natural habitats, think about volunteering for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.  We have volunteer needs both on our programs and behind the scenes in preparing materials and activities.  Whether you have a few hours a week, or only a few hours a year, we have a volunteer job for you.  Sign up online and we’ll follow up with you.

To find wild Loudoun places near you, browse through our Great Places pages on our website. We have information about different locations, links to great publications on local parks and preserves and short slide shows to give you a preview.  Bundle up, get outside, bring your family and friends, and enjoy our natural treasures.


We had a great walk led by Andy Rabin and Mona Miller. Eighteen people of all ages came out to spot and help identify these beautiful insects. In total, we saw 17 species of butterflies, 13 species of dragonflies and 1species of damselflies.

The highlight of the butterflies was the large number of Juniper (aka Olive) Hairstreaks that we found throughout the wildflowers and grasses. The Red Cedars present at the Park serve as the host plant for the Juniper Hairstreak so this was an indication that we might see them but we certainly didn’t expect to see as many as we did.  It was a special treat to see this uncommon butterfly.

Many thanks to the kids on the walk – they all did a great job helping spot the dragonflies and butterflies so we could take a closer look.

Here’s a listing of the species seen today:

Butterflies: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Orange Sulphur, Juniper Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak, Eastern-tailed Blue, Summer Azure, Pearl Crescent, American Lady, Common Buckeye, Red-spotted Purple, Little Wood Satyr, Silver-spotted Skipper, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Least Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Peck’s Skipper, Sachem.

Dragonflies: Prince Baskettail, Calico Pennant, Halloween Pennant, Common Pondhawk, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Wandering Glider, Spot-winged Glider, Eastern Amberwing, Black Saddlebags.

Damselflies: Fragile Forktail.

…..and one box turtle trying to stay cool in the tall grasses.


We had a great day of hunting dragons and damsels across the fine Loudoun countryside! Seven people joined us as Andy Rabin and Kevin Munroe, both real experts in dragonflies and damselflies, took us out into the field.

We started the day at 10am at Bles Park then went to Claude Moore at noon and ended the day at Kephart Bridge Landing.

In total, we had 29 species!

Dragonflies: Common Green Darner, Swamp Darner, Unicorn Clubtail, Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Prince Basketail, Umber Shadowdragon, Calico Pennant, Halloween Pennant, Common Pondhawk,Spangled Skimmer, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Spot-winger Glider, Eastern Amberwing, Autumn Meadowhawk, Black Saddlebags

Damselflies: American Rubyspot, Blue-fronted Dancer, Powdered Dancer, Blue-tipped Dancer, Dusky Dancer, Familiar Bluet, Stream Bluet, Citrine Forktail, Eastern Forktail, Southern Spreadwing

Throughout the day, we practiced our netting skills, used small containers to look at individuals that we caught, and practiced how to properly hold a dragonfly for identification and release them.  The colors and patterns of all the varied species were beautiful.

Many thanks to Andy and Kevin for sharing this with us.