Coming Soon: The City Nature Challenge! 27-30 April

Citizen scientists throughout the Washington DC metro area will be participating in the 2018 City Nature Challenge, a competition among 60 cities around the world to find and document the diversity of species. No experience required—just a mobile device and a love for nature. Participants will make observations of wild plants and animals using the free iNaturalist app (for Android or Apple).

Why get involved? By participating, you’ll not only get out and see some great urban nature, you’ll help scientists collect data on the biodiversity of our region (and the planet). City Nature Challenge contributors are invited to join the species ID event at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum on Monday, 30.

To sign up for an event, create an event, and learn more, click here.

To download the flyer, click here.

 

Explore, Learn, and Record with iNaturalist

Reviewed by Ana Ka’Ahanui

As naturalists, we have many tools out there to help us record, learn and share information about the nature we love. One of my favorite tools is a free app called iNaturalist, aka iNat, available for iPhone and Android. Easy to navigate and with a simple interface, the app makes recording my nature observations on hikes and other outings fast and painless. After snapping a few photos and entering some basic information, I can share my findings on iNaturalist and its community of over 575,000 users worldwide.

You don’t have to be an expert to use it because one of iNat’s nifty features is crowdsourcing identifications. Not sure of that bird you just posted about? No problem! iNat bird lovers and ornithologists can see your post and help you out by suggesting an ID. The more people that validate your finding, “Yes, that’s an Eastern Bluebird!,” the faster your observation becomes “research grade.” So why not become a citizen scientist and share info about the kinds of critters you love? Your findings can be added to almost 7.7 million observations and over 140,000 observed species. Not only will you be contributing to science, you’ll be helping to map out our region’s biodiversity.

While I enjoy using iNat to keep track of my personal observations, I also love using it for local bioblitzes and events such as the City Nature Challenge, a friendly annual contest among cities to record the most nature over a 4-day period. I encourage you to download the app and practice making observations before the next City Nature Challenge, which runs from Friday, 27 April through Monday, 30 April. The national capital area is competing against over 60 other cities around the country and the world to make the most observations, identify the most species, and recruit the most volunteers. With your help, we can put the DC metro area, including 15 counties in Northern Virginia, at the top of the leader board!

2018 Virginia Working Landscape survey season activities kicking off

Virginia Working Landscapes, a program of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, hosts citizen science service projects for master naturalists and other members of the public.

Joe Guthrie, the new field coordinator, is a local conservation biologist with extensive experience in designing and implementing ecological surveys and brings with him a strong passion for biodiversity conservation and research. He and his team have set dates for spring  trainings:

Grassland Bird Training: Saturday, 14 April, 9 am-1 pm at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, in Front Royal. Led by Joe Guthrie and Amy Johnson.

Grassland Plant Training: Saturday, 28 April, 9 am-1 pm at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, in Front Royal. Led by Sally Anderson and Joe Guthrie

Pollinator Training: Sunday, 13 May, 9 am-noon at Blandy Experimental Farm, in Front Royal. Led by T’ai Roulston, Alex Newhart and Joe Guthrie.

If you are a current citizen scientist, please send a note to Charlotte Lorick (LorickC@si.edu) with your name and survey interest. VWL will put your name down as confirmed for 2018 surveys, and Joe will be in touch with more specific details later this spring.

If you are not yet a volunteer, but are interested, please sign up here.

The VWL events page hosts additional learning and service opportunities.

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

 

Register for a Week of Wildflower Viewing

 8-14 April 2018
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 10-16 June 2018
Southwest Virginia’s Balsam Mountains

The Virginia Native Plant Society is planning two extended field trips for your wildflower viewing. Sign up for a heavenly week-long excursion – either in April, for a trip to the Great Smokies; or in June for a trip to Virginia’s Balsam Mountains. See details and register here.

FrogWatch USA looking for volunteers to monitor calls this summer. Training in March

FrogWatch USA at the National Zoo is in its sixth season. To date, they have monitored 75 sites in DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maine and have submitted 1,650 frog call observations.

Tracking frog populations throughout the United States, FrogWatch invites participants to choose a monitoring site that is easily accessible and close to where they live or work to listen to frogs that are calling throughout the warmer months.

Three indoor trainings will help orient people to the frogs that are in the DC-metro area and their calls. Content is the same, so choose one training that fits your schedule. If you are interested please contact Matt Neff: neffm@si.edu

Trainings:

Sat., March 3rd, 3:00-6:00pm @ NZP – Rock Creek Campus

Thur., March 8th, 6:00-9:00pm @ Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, VA

Sat., March 17th, 3:00-6:00pm @ NZP – Rock Creek Campus

 

Sign up for Harvesting Garden Water, at Green Springs, 25 February

Green Spring Gardens Park, 4601 Green Spring Road, Alexandria

25 February 2018, 1.30-2.30 pm

Water harvesting involves strategies to manage and enhance the water resources on your land, leading to healthier plants and lower water bills. Understanding and implementing just a few simple water harvesting techniques, such as swales, hugelkultur beds, and rain gardens can improve the way water moves through your yard and how effectively your plants are able to use it. Designer Michael Judd shows you designs that best fit your land, how they are created and how to make them look good. These principles will help make your land more diverse, productive, and ecologically friendly. Register via ParkTakes. Fairfax County residents $10, others $12.

Counts toward continuing education credits for master naturalists.

Apply for the 2018 Youth Conservation Camp

For over 35 years, the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp in July for Virginia high school students on the campus of Virginia Tech. The camp provides a week of learning about Virginia’s natural resources from conservation professionals and university faculty. Youth Conservation Camp is a selective program. Interested students must send their applications to the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, whose staff will select which students will attend and be eligible for partial scholarships. The pre-scholarship cost is $550.

Rain Barrel Spring Workshop Dates Announced

The Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Partners’ have announced the spring dates for their popular build-your-own workshops and pre-made rain barrel sale. Build-your-own workshops will be held on March 24th and April 14th, and the pre-made barrel sale will be April 20th-21st. Online registration and ordering will open in early-to-mid February.

Get ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Enjoy observing local birds? You can make your observations count. The Great Backyard Bird Count, running from February 16-19 is a fun, free, family-friendly event that asks us to observe and count the birds in our backyards, building balconies, parks, schools–anywhere we may find them. Learn how to sign up and get started counting here.

Help spread the word with pre-made resources here.

In support of the bird count, DC Audubon is organizing a bird walk on Saturday, February 17 at 10:00 am at the U.S. Arboretum. For details and other updates, sign up here.

Join citizen scientists around the world for this annual tradition!