SHENANDOAH NATURALISTS
           FEBRUARY NEWS

 

WOW! What a winter! We have gone from 3 degrees to 65 degrees in a day! Charlie bought some peach trees last year and we are hoping that they don’t start to bud during this warm period!

We are getting ready for our free biennial Boy Scout Birding Merit Badge Work Shop on March 15 and 16th.  Because the kids will be making a bird house of Sat. the 16th, we can use a lot of volunteers.  We also need people who can assist individuals who are learning  to use binoculars and bird guides! It is open to any youth who is at least 9 years old and interested in Birding.  Scouts get preference but others are welcome if there is space.

We are also planning our third Birds and Breakfast.  It will again be at Shenandoah University’s Cool Springs Campus at 8 am on April 13th.  Mark you calendar!
Stay Warm,
Judy

 

Thanks to a call from Jim Smith, I was able to rush to White's lake and photograph this Blue-morph Snow Goose! They are rarely seen here.  Jim thinks this is only the second time he has ever seen one. It is a first for me!

 

Also at White's Lake today,I photographed what looks like a regular Crow but it is a Fish Crow.  He sat there and kept calling in his high nasal uh uh. Because the second uh is lower than the first one, it sounds to me like he is saying nah uh.

 

While there I had a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk do a fly-by!

 

This is a female House Finch. She is not exotic but cute and just decided to land next to me.

 

And to make my visit complete, I saw what I believed to be a Lesser Scaup.  The Great Scaup is 1 1/2 inches larger.  I didn't get a chance to measure him!

 

The Red-breasted Nuthatches are still at Blandy.  Charlie can't believe how unafraid they are when he fills the feeders. Someday he wants to try to hand feed them.

 

Shenandoah Valley Audubon Society

March 6 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm and March 9 from 9 am to noon Bluebird Monitor Training in Blandy’s library Please contact kayceelichliter@hotmail.com to see if there are any spaces still available.

Jim Smith's Bird Walks to White's lake will officially begin on March 16!

 


 

Virginia Native Plant Society

Read their latest quarterly Sempervirens newsletter at:https://vnps.org/download/vnps/vnps_newsletters/Sempervirens%20Fall%20&%20Winter%202018-2019%20SP.pdf

March 9 from 9 am to 3 pm the Va Plant Soc. Will be hosting  Workshop “Our Changing Forests” For more information go to:  https://vnps.org/vnps-winter-workshop-2019/
 

 


 

Blandy

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 10 a.m.-Noon EcoArt for the Family in Blandy’s Parkfield Learning Center (PLC) Nature and art make perfect partners! Join us for this indoor/outdoor art experience using natural materials and found objects. Create surprising sculptures to take home, and contribute to large outdoor art that we will leave in place. For the whole family. FOSA members/UVa families $20, nonmember families $25 Reservations Required--Space is Limited Register for a Program or Event Now

Fri Mar 1st 1:00pm - 5:00pm Managing Invasive Plants in the Spring Season in Blandy’s library. Blue Ridge PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) Staff
Learn to identify and manage invasive plant species during the spring season. Samples of invasives will be on display, and you may bring securely bagged plants for identification. We will end with a walk including field identification and demonstration of techniques. FOSA members $20, nonmembers $25 Reservations Required--Space is Limited Register for a Program or Event Now

 


 

                                  Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Wednesday, February 13
@ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Potomac Valley Audubon Society’s Monthly Program: “Muskrat Love; Romance in the Animal Kingdom  Join PVAS educators, Amy Moore and Matt Wuertzer, as they celebrate Valentine’s Day by exploring the wild world of romance in nature. They will discuss the amazing rituals that animals from all over the world partake in to find a mate and why animals have developed such strange behaviors in the first place. Meeting is at the Hospice of the Panhandle, 330 Hospice Lane, Kearneysville, WV 25430 GPS location is Shop and Save, 50 Coast Guard Drive, Kearneysville www.hospiceotp.org  Please contact Krista Hawley at adultprograms@potomacaudubon.org or 681-252-1387 with any questions you may have.

Saturday, February 16 @ 7:30 am - 10:30 am Winter Bird Walk at USGS Fish Health Lab, 407 Reservoir Road Leetown,WV  This event is free and open to the public, however, registration is strongly encouraged. Please contact Krista Hawley at adultprograms@potomacaudubon.org or 681-252-1387 with any questions you may have. https://www.potomacaudubon.org/event/winter-bird-walk-2/

Wednesday, February 20 @ 7:30 am - 10:00 am ‘Third Wednesday’ Bird Walk at Cool Spring Preserve The trails at Cool Spring preserve have a lot to offer! From well maintained foot paths to gorgeous views, the preserve’s 12 acres is home to much wildlife. Please meet by 7:30 am in the front parking lot of Cool Spring Preserve, the walk will last a couple of hours. If you have questions or would like more information, contact Krista Hawley at adultprograms@potomacaudubon.org or 681-252-1387.

Friday, February 22 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm Nature Book Discussion Group of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in the Age of Artificial Light by Paul Bogard.  If you have questions about the book or the next meeting details, please contact Laura Clark at outfitter1996@hotmail.com.

Saturday, February 23 @ 9:30 am - 11:30 am Natural History Workshop: Art Inspired by Nature, Mandala Watercolor Workshop at Cool Spring Preserve, 1469 Lloyd Rd. Charles Town,WV A mandala is an ancient, universal art form. It is circular in format; Mandala means circular in Sanskrit. Nature will be the inspiration for the creation of these mandalas. Mandala shapes in nature include flowers, the sun and moon, various fruits, shells, spiderwebs etc. These mandalas can be abstract, symbolic, nonobjective, include realism or be a combination. Drawing ability is not required. The emphasis will be creativity, self expression and the natural world. Registration is required. https://www.potomacaudubon.org/event/natural-history-workshop-art-inspired-by-nature-mandala-watercolor-workshop/

Wednesday, February 27 @ 8:30 am - 11:00 am Harpers Ferry Bird Walk at Virginius Island The trip may be canceled or postponed if weather conditions are poor. For more information contact Deb Hale at 304-535-1528.

Saturday, March 9 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Natural History Workshop: Art to Earth; An Ecopsychology Workshop Participants can expect to gain an understanding of Ecopsychology ideas , and participate in guided meditations, earth walks and an indoor art project. This workshop is open to the public and no prior meditation or art making experience is needed. However registration is required. Please contact Krista Hawley at adultprograms@potomacaudubon.org or 681-252-1387 with any questions you may have. This workshop is being held at Cool Spring Preserve in the upstairs classroom as well as on the trails of the preserve. Please dress for the weather and wear comfortable clothing and sturdy walking shoes.

Sunday, March 10 @ 9:00 am - 11:00 am Natural History Workshop: Drawn from Nature by J.J. Audubon” The workshop will be held in the upstairs classroom at Cool Spring Preserve. Doug PIfer, dressed in period clothing, will lead a workshop and will bring two of his own life-size bid paintings, done using the same methods Audubon used. Then, using an artificial bird instead of a dead one, Doug will demonstrate how Audubon created his drawings by pinning the bird to a grid, arranging it in a life-like pose, and then drawing the bird on another piece of paper using the same size grid. Participants. will then have a chance to try Audubon’s technique for themselves. Registration is required https://www.potomacaudubon.org/event/natural-history-workshop-drawn-from-nature-by-j-j-audubon/
 

 


 

Fox Sparrow photographed by David Boltz.

 


Winning images from the 2018 National Audubon Society annual photography contest, chosen by Audubon judges from more than 8,000 entries submitted by photographers from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and 10 Canadian provinces, are coming to Reston, Virginia. The photographs will be displayed until February 27, 2019 at Walker Nature Center in an exhibition co-sponsored by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia
Walker Nature Center.
11450 Glade Drive
Reston, VA 20191
If you can't make it (but you should try!) go to:  https://www.audubon.org/magazine/summer-2018/the-2018-audubon-photography-awards-winners  
Dave said his photo didn't win, but I think it should have!!
The 2019 Contest begins 1/7/19 and ends 4/8/19.
 

 

Friday-Monday, February 15-18  The Great Backyard Bird Count Bird watchers of all ages count birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are. For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish! For more information and to sign up visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/

 


 

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia

All activities take place at Walker Nature Center. Walker Nature Center
11450 Glade Drive
Reston, VA 20191

  • February 8 to February 27 – 2018 Audubon Photography Award Winners Exhibition
  • February 10 – Open House from 1-3 p.m.  Nature activities for all ages include a welcome presentation, hands-on activities for kids, and guided bird walks.
  • February 17Great Backyard Bird Count from 1-4 p.m. Bird identification and citizen science for all ages.  "This count is so fun because anyone can take part—we all learn and watch birds together—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher.” – Gary Langham, Chief Scientist, National Audubon Society. Register for our GBBC class here.
  • February 22 – “Bird of Prey” from 7-9 p.m.  Join us at Walker Nature Center for a documentary film about the largest and rarest eagle on earth – the Philippine Eagle. View the trailer here. Registration required through Walker Nature Center at 703-476-9689. $5 suggested donation.

Charlie and I have seen the "Birds of Prey" film.  It is spectacular!
 

 

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia’s Bird of the Month of February is the Turkey Vulture.
Turkey vultures, also known as turkey buzzards, are a common sight throughout the state of Virginia. As one of the most widespread birds in the western hemisphere, their range extends west to California and south to the tip of South America. Turkey vultures are often seen gliding on thermals, buoyed by a wingspan that can reach up to seven feet.
Most birds have no sense of smell, which makes turkey vultures extremely unusual, as they rely entirely on their noses to detect prey. They do so by detecting a byproduct of carrion called ethyl mercaptan. This same compound is commonly added to petroleum gas, causing confused turkey vultures to congregate around gas leaks.
While most birders are acquainted with turkey vultures, they may not know the important role that they play in the ecosystem. Like all vultures, turkey vultures are equipped with a powerful digestive system that is capable of killing harmful bacteria, such as the bacteria responsible for anthrax. In fact, when vulture numbers decline, rates of human diseases go up. In India, falling vulture populations correlated with higher rates of both anthrax and rabies.
Turkey vultures have no natural predators, but they face one significant man-made threat: contamination from lead bullets. When game is shot with lead, the bullets break apart and contaminate the meat, making it toxic for both human and vulture consumption. California Condors, turkey vultures’ larger cousins, have to be regularly treated for lead poisoning to prevent species collapse.
Vultures are the sanitation workers of our ecosystem, disposing of carrion and keeping diseases in check. Therefore, the next time you see a turkey vulture, you should give it thanks. After all, it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.
Source: Haskell, David George. The Forest Unseen: A Years Watch in Nature. NY, NY, U.S.A.: Penguin Books, 2013. 

 


 

A Seasonal Garden & Meadow Tour in 2019. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has partnered with Susan Abraham of Conservation Landscapes for a series of garden and meadow tours in Waterford.  Join us as we walk through each site discussing the seasonal aspects of these gardens and meadows, designed and planted with native species and conservation principles in mind.  The seasonal aspect of these tours will allow you to watch the sites unfold over time, revealing the true nature of each.  Light refreshments will be served.  Join Ann Garvey and Susan Abraham in their meadows on:
●       Saturday, February 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
●       Saturday, May 11, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
●       Saturday, August 10, 9 a.m. to noon
●       Saturday, October 12, 9 a.m. to noon
Fees: Series $75 members, $100 non-members. Individual sessions $20 members, $30 non-members Limit: 15 for the series, 5 for each individual session. Registration required: Sign up at https://loudounwildlife.org/events/. Questions: Contact Ann Garvey at agarvey@loudounwildlife.org.

 


 

Know What is Happening in Richmond
2019 General Assembly Session Is Well Underway
The Virginia General Assembly convened on January 9 and is meeting for 45 days, in what is known as the “short session.” They are considering many bills, including bills addressing wildlife corridors, caterpillar suppression, tree preservation, litter, climate change, coal ash storage, and more.
 
To read the various bills, here are three sources of information:

 The legislature is also considering several budget amendments. The Virginia Conservation Network has provided this summary of Governor Northam’s natural resources budget proposals:

  • Virginia’s agricultural cost-share program, which supports farm conservation practices and related programs, would receive approximately $90 million for fiscal year 2020.
  • The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which provides matching grants to localities for projects that reduce polluted runoff, would receive $50 million for fiscal year 2020.
  • The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, which provides state matching grants for the preservation of special lands in the Commonwealth, would receive $11 million for fiscal year 2020.
  • For the Department of Environmental Quality, an increase of $2.5 million would support staff that monitor and enforce regulations that protect natural resources.

Virginians will elect all members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate in November 2019.
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Saving the Birds and Butterflies
On January 24, 2019, the Virginia House of Delegates' Counties, Cities and Towns Subcommittee #3 held a hearing on House Bill 2495, which would prevent localities from spraying any pesticide to kill fall cankerworms  between March 1 and August 1.  The bill, which was sponsored by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax), was introduced because spraying for fall cankerworms kills all caterpillars, which are important food sources for birds during migration and breeding season.  Delegate Tran offered a substitute to the original bill to permit spraying only on properties whose owners request it.  
Speaking for the bill were Delegate Tran; Ashley Kennedy, Entomologist, University of Delaware;  Glenda Booth, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia; Pat Calvert, Virginia Conservation Network; and Steve Lovejoy, Virginia Sierra Club. Speaking against the bill were Chris Sigler, Fairfax County; Ron Jordon, Prince William County; and the Virginia Agribusiness Council.
On a motion offered by Del. Riley Ingram (R-Chesterfield), the subcommittee voted 5 to 4 to lay the proposed bill on the table, meaning consideration of the bill was suspended indefinitely.  It unlikely that the bill will be considered further during this legislative session.
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Potomac Valley Audubon Society’s “Kathy’s Corner”