City Nature Challenge–Save the dates, 26-29 April 2019

Citizen scientists throughout the Washington DC metro area will be participating in the 2019 City Nature Challenge, a competition among 130 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).

Find out how it works!

See the results from the 2018 City Nature Challenge.

 

 

Join Clifton Institute Christmas bird count, 16 December

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Clifton Institute invites you to the Plains Christmas Bird Count, to be held on Sunday, December 16th. Bird watchers of all skill levels are welcome!

The count will cover a 7.5 mile radius circle in northern Fauquier County and western Prince William county. We have a great variety of habitats in the count circle and always turn up a good diversity of species. Last year, we found 92 species, including Short-eared Owl and Cackling Goose.

Start times vary by sector leaders. Most meet around 7 am at various locations within the circle, ranging from Haymarket to Warrenton.  We will have food and hot drinks at compilation, which will be held at the Clifton Institute, north of Warrenton, just after sundown. Please contact Bert Harris directly (bharris@cliftoninstitute.org) if you’d like to join!

Family event – Urban Birds of Northern Virginia, December 8th

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale VA
Saturday, 8 December 2018
3-4:30 pm

This program is designed to teach both children and parents what they can do to welcome wintering birds into their yards through nurturing their natural habitat. Expect activities like bird watching and identification, an outdoor nature walk and arts and crafts activities that can be brought home. For more information and to register, click here.

Brought to you by the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust.

NVCT Conservation Luncheon, 21 March 2019

Key Bridge Marriott, 1401 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA  22209

Thursday, 21 March 2019

11:30 am Registration/Networking

12-2 pm Lunch and Program

Save the date for the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) 2019 Conservation Luncheon! On March 21, 2019 NVCT will host their 25th Anniversary Luncheon at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, VA. Governor Ralph Northam has been invited as the keynote speaker. It’s not too early to secure your seat now. Click here to purchase your ticket. If you’re interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, click here.

Opt outside on Black Friday and visit our parks

Embrace the cooler weather at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park as you learn about the signs of fall. Visit the Walney Visitor Center and get a fall identification chart for your park exploration.

At Frying Pan Farm Park, you can borrow a program backpack at the Country Store. Inside you will find instruction for activities at six trail stops to help your child learn about the natural wonders found at the park.

Visit Hidden Oaks Nature Center to enjoy a visual scavenger hunt along the 1/3-mile Old Oak Trail. There are options available for preschool and elementary age children and their families. Hidden Pond Nature Center is also offering a scavenger hunt to explore the surrounding trails.

Discover the plants and animals of Huntley Meadows Park. Come to the front desk in the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center and ask to borrow a scavenger hunt sheet to aid your outdoor adventure.

At Riverbend Park, families can look, listen, learn and create along the Duff N Stuff Trail. Stop by the Visitor Center to get a copy of a new Scavenger Hunt, designed by a local Girl Scout.

The county’s lakefront parks have ways to keep you busy, too. Burke Lake Park offers a tree scavenger hunt. At Lake Accotink Park, there are self-guided hikes, or you can go on a scavenger hunt at Lake Fairfax Park. Lakefront parks are open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

All of these activities are free, and no registration is required. Please call the park offices for site specific check-in locations and activity times. Add to your day of outdoor fun by doing a little hiking, biking, picnicking or fishing on your own.

For more information and directions to each park visit Fairfax County Park Authority or please call their respective offices at:

Burke Lake Park 703-323-6600; Ellanor C. Lawrence Park 703-631-0013; Frying Pan Farm Park 703-437-9101; Hidden Oaks Nature Center 703-941-1065; Hidden Pond Nature Center 703-451-9588; Huntley Meadows Park 703-768-2525; Lake Fairfax Park 703-471-5414; Lake Accotink Park 703-569-3464; Riverbend Park 703-759-9018.

Learning opportunities with Friends of the National Zoo

Photo: Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Sunday, December 2

Animal Nutrition Talk: beginning at noon, Mike Maslanka, Manager of the National Zoo’s Animal Nutrition Department, will  discuss captive animal nutrition from perspectives of history, current science and research, interactions between researchers and institutions, application in zoos, as well as the National Zoo’s approach to all of these and its own work.

Sign up here!

 

Sunday, December 16.

Zoo Commissary Tour: beginning at 11 am, you will visit the place where animal food is stored and prepared. You will learn the  history and the concepts of the Zoo’s nutrition program as well as how the Zoo does this work and you’ll see some food prep in action.

Sign up here!

 

Native plants for beginners symposium: Save the date

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

  • Create a beautiful yard
  • Save time so you can enjoy other activities
  • Create habitat for birds & pollinators
  • Save money on fertilizer
  • Improve water quality
  • Reduce erosion
  • Stop mowing, Start growing!

Learn more at the Prince William Native Plant Symposium on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at the McCoart County Administrative Building

1 County Complex Ct., Woodbridge, VA 22192.

9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

The $15 fee covers coffee and donuts, lunch, and materials.  

Registration begins December 1, 2018.

Let us help you to stop mowing and get going on your dream landscape!  

Call 703-792-7070 for more details and share the flyer.

Explore the Clifton Institute in November and December

Photo: Barbara J. Saffir (c)

YHikes!

Saturday, November 17, 9:00AM – 12:00PM

Our monthly YHikeS! (Youth Hikes) program continues. Children ages 5 and older are invited to come along as we explore the field station and learn about the plants, animals, and fungi that live here. Parents are welcome to drop off their child or they may attend the program.

Monthly Bird Walks

Wednesday, November 14 and Saturday, December 1 at 8:00AM

Novice and experienced birders will enjoy these guided 1-2 mile hikes to look for the many species of birds that can be found on the field station. The ducks are starting to show up and pretty soon our ponds will be full of waterfowl. You never know what we’ll find!

Nature photography, FMN annual meeting, December 7th

Photo by Fred Siskind

St. Dunstan’s Church

1830 Kirby Drive, McLean VA

Friday, 7 December 2018

7-9 pm

Potluck:  please bring a dish to share

Public invited!  Our Fairfax Master Naturalists board officer elections will be followed by our Fall Basic Training Course graduation.  Candidates for election follow:

President: Joe Gorney
Vice President/Program Committee Chair: Kit Sheffield
Secretary: Shannon Dart
Treasurer: Ron Grimes
Past President: Michael Reinemer

Fred Siskind will then give a presentation on nature photography.  (One hour continuing education credit for Fairfax Master Naturalists.) Fred will discuss macro photography in the field with an emphasis on photographing insects – dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, caterpillars. He will briefly describe the equipment he uses and cover the essential requirements for producing a good photograph – composition, background and foreground control, depth of field, gardening, and lighting.

Fred is a nature photographer specializing in wildlife. In addition to regularly photographing in Washington area parks, he has traveled to many U.S. national parks as well as game parks in Kenya. He is a longtime member and former President of the Northern Virginia Photographic Society, and a member of the North American Nature Photography Association. He completed the Fairfax Master Naturalist Program in 2016.

His photos have been published in many magazines (Audubon, Birder’s World, Bird Watcher’s Digest, National Geographic Kids, Natural History, Nature’s Best, Outdoor Photographer, Smokies Life), books (American Birding Association, Capstone, Kidsbooks, National Geographic, Western National Parks Association), calendars (Audubon, Shearson, Tildon), and used in exhibits (Huntley Meadows Park, National Park Service, National Arboretum) and brochures and posters (Huntley Meadows Park, Time-Life Books, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). He collaborated with former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis on a poetry/photography book for children titled Face Bug, which can be ordered on Amazon. His photos can be seen at www.agpix.com/siskind.

VMN webinar: Mason Bee Project update

Are you interested in learning about mason bees? Master Naturalists across the state and mason bee researchers at the University of Virginia’s Blandy Experimental Farm were able to monitor spring-emerging mason bee populations. Over 150 Master Naturalists all over Virginia were involved by deploying bee “hotels” (nest boxes) in 2017 and 2018 and bee bowls (traps) in 2017. This webinar will cover the natural history of spring-emerging mason bees, it will describe our project setup and methodology with a live demonstration, results will be shared, and we will share information for how to participate in the 2019 mason bee monitoring project season. Everyone is welcome to join the webinar.

Kate LeCroy is a Ph.D. student studying ecology in the department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. She is advised by T’ai Roulston, Ph.D., at University of Virginia’s Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, Virginia. Kate graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama and went on to complete a Master of Science degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh studying the community ecology of flower color. Now at UVA, in 2017 and 2018, Kate worked with over 150 Virginia Master Naturalists throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia to document springtime wild bee diversity, particularly the diversity of mason bees (genus Osmia). Kate enjoys interacting with Master Naturalists because of their curiosity, their steadfast commitment to projects, and their enthusiasm for conservation and the natural world. When she’s not out “saving the bees” Kate enjoys spending time in Charlottesville with her husband Riley and their dog, Magnolia.

Webinar Details

When: November 13, 2018, 12:00 pm

Meeting Number: 467-052-749

Link to join: Join Webinar

(This link will connect you to the video feed, but you will need to connect your audio separately to hear the speaker.  Zoom will prompt you to do that once you have connected the video feed.  See the technical information below for details on connecting your audio.)

Link for recordings of this and past webinars:  VMN Continuing Education page