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Hear the Story of the Restoration of Huntley Meadows Park

Thursday, 3 May,  7-8.30 pm

 Woodend Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Rd., Chevy Chase, MD

Hear Cathy Ledec, President of Friends of Huntley Meadows Park (FOHMP), tell the fascinating story of the restoration of Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, VA.

From colonial farms to a failed dream for an enormous airport to road surface testing, anti-aircraft battery hosting, and Cold War radio listening station, Huntley Meadows has had an exciting past. That excitement continues into the present day, when after the federal government turned over 1,261 acres to Fairfax County for a park, beavers quickly returned to the wetland and began to change how water flowed through the landscape. Biodiversity in animal and plant species returned, and today you can walk through a beautiful, highly diverse wetland along a network of well-maintained boardwalks and trails. Humans have helped the process of restoration along, working alongside the beavers and ensuring a beautiful natural resource is open to all and showcases an amazing hemi-marsh ecosystem.

Coffee and dessert will be provided while you enjoy an inspiring presentation on how local conservation is achieved in our region.

This program is May’s Conservation Cafe, presented by the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS).  Your $10 registration goes to support the ANS Conservation Program. Click here to register.

Find service opportunities with the Fairfax County Parks

New education, stewardship, and citizen science projects for Fairfax Master Naturalists have just been added to the Service Project Calendar. (If you are reading this and are not yet a naturalist, please consider applying for basic training.) You can also find opportunities by contacting the parks directly: Hidden Oaks, Huntley Meadows, Riverbend, Ellanor C. Lawrence, Frying Pan, Green Spring Gardens, Hidden Pond, and Cub Run RECenter all have opportunities for FMN members. Here’s a small sampling:

Spring-Fest at Historic Sully, 21 April, 9:45am–4pm – assist with interactive nature experiences at FCPA table

Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences, Hidden Oaks, 3, 4, 5, 6, 27 April; 1, 2, 3, 4 May 9:15am -1pm – assist at stations including stream studies, stewardship, benthic macroinvertebrate study or live animal exhibits for 7th grade classes

My Sky Tonight Campfire, 7 April, 7-9:30 pm, Hidden Oaks – assist with family campfire program about constellations

Touch this Fox, 28 April, 12-2:30, Hidden Oaks – assist with family program where participants can touch real specimens and bones, educate about taxidermy and specimen care, dissect an owl pellet

Habitat and Parkland Management, dates & times flexible – perform maintenance of trails and other natural resource protection projects, such as with native wildflower garden or storm damage cleanup

Animal care, dates & times flexible – feed and care for animals on exhibit.  Animal care volunteers are needed at Hidden Oaks, Hidden Pond, Ellanor C. Lawrence and Riverbend.

To volunteer for Hidden Oaks programs, contact Suzanne Holland, Suzanne.Holland@fairfaxcounty.gov or 703-941-1065.  For other locations, contact the nature center or park.

April Activities at Huntley Meadows

Twilight Boardwalk

7 April 2018

7-9 pm

(6-Adult) Join a naturalist at Huntley Meadows Park on a guided tour through the forested paths to the wetland, and experience the park as it transitions from day into night. Watch and listen for beavers, owls and other nocturnal residents. The  cost is $9 per person. For more information, call 703-768-2525. Register online

 

Wetlands Spring to Life: Sketch Hike

21 April 2018

10 am-noon

(10-Adult) Join artist and naturalist Margaret Wohler to explore and sketch the wetland at Huntley Meadows Park as it wakes up for spring. Learn to identify and draw the first plants and animals that spring to life. Enhance your observation and sketching skills. The cost is $9 per person. For more information, call 703-768-2525. Register online

 

Get Ready for Warbler Migration

22 April 2018

8-11 am

(Adults) Learn or refresh your warbler calls and identification skills with this educational session at Huntley Meadows Park. Common warbler migrants of Huntley Meadows will be covered. The cost is $10 per person. For more information, call 703-768-2525. Register online

Learn more

 

Dr. Leslie Reis to speak on butterflies and climate change at Huntley Meadows

Join Fairfax Master Naturalists and Friends of Dyke Marsh for a talk by Georgetown University biologist Dr. Leslie Reis. She will discuss butterflies, their host plants, and how both are responding to climate change.

Summarizing her work with the monarch, the Baltimore checkerspot, and the silver-spotted skipper, Dr. Reis will show how she builds on work by citizen scientists such as Jim Waggener, who has contributed 25 years of data on behalf of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia at the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

9 May 2018

7.30 pm

Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center

3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria, VA 22306

 

A Day of Discovery at Huntley Meadows

Birdwatching on the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows (Photo by Ana Ka’ahanui)

Huntley Meadows Park offered our gaggle of naturalists a perfect view of its 1,500 acres of wetlands, meadows, and forests for our second fall field trip, on 7 October. In the morning, Rentz Hilyer and Mary Benger directed our eyes skyward as we looked and listened for birds. Alonso Abugattas, Jr.’s afternoon herps walk kept us earthbound as we tried to spot the creatures that slither and swim. And wiggle. And sometimes just lollygag in the weeds.

Rentz, land steward specialist at the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, and Mary, a graduate of the FMN program, helped us track the movements and calls of the more than 200 species of birds known to live in the park. As a group we observed 29 species of birds including Great Blue Herons, Hairy, Downy, Red-Bellied and Red-headed Woodpeckers, Great Egrets, Red-winged Blackbirds, Carolina Wrens and Chickadees, Northern Flickers, Mourning Doves, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Eastern Phoebes, Gray Catbirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Belted Kingfishers, Blue Jays, American Robins and more. Rentz introduced us to the app eBird so that we can contribute to its ever-growing database as citizen scientists.

Gorgeous afternoon for discovering the park’s biodiversity. (Photo by Ana Ka’ahanui)

After lunch, we trekked back out into the park in search of herps with Alonso, the natural resources manager for the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. With the recent drought, we weren’t sure how many critters we would find, but the beautiful day was good to us. We observed Eastern Ribbon and Eastern Garter Snakes; Snapping, Spotted, and Eastern Painted Turtles, as well as Southern Leopard, Pickerel and various other types of frogs. We learned that a group of frogs is called an army, and a group of toads is called a knot. Alonso has published a great resource called the The Reptiles and Amphibians of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area and leads a Facebook group called Capital Naturalist, both of which are helpful to naturalists looking to identify the great diversity of life in Northern Virginia.

Alonso gives us a closer look at a painted turtle. (Photo by Ana Ka’ahanui)

In addition to animals, we observed all manner of plant species, such as Lizard’s Tail, Swamp Rose Mallow (a type of hibiscus), Winterberry, Arrowwood Vibernum and Wood Asters, to name a few. We learned that Jewelweed is a natural preventative and treatment for poison ivy and poison oak and that Turtlehead Flowers are a favorite treat of grazing deer.

Insects were plentiful, too, and some were vocal, such as the Handsome Meadow Katydid. The Long-jawed Orb Weaver spiders spun impressive webs at angles to best catch their prey. Common Whitetail Dragonflies and electric blue and red Damselflies whizzed over the wetlands as we wandered over the trails and boardwalk.

While we saw some evidence of the local beavers—lots of chew marks and piles of wood—they proved elusive that day. We did, however, see a lone muskrat cruising around in the marshes. The day was filled with nature discoveries galore and was a perfect learning lab for our Master Naturalist class.

Class photo on the observation deck

Click here to view photos from our outing.