Creatures Of The Night at The Clifton Institute, September 9th

Saturday, September 9, 2023
– 9:30 pm

The Clifton Institute
6712 Blantyre Rd
Warrenton, VA 20187

Registration is REQUIRED.

Join The Clifton Institute to look and listen for creatures of the night! Participants will start by listening to the evening chorus of birds and katydids. Then everyone will take a gentle walk through fields and woods to look for nocturnal animals. Back at the farm house you will see what kinds of moths and beetles guides can attract with black lights.

Cost: Free!

Age: Adults and children ages 12 and up, accompanied by an adult. If you have younger children be sure to check out the Night-time Family Nature Walk happening at the same time!

Bring: Please bring a flashlight.

Weather policy: Date and time subject to change dependent on weather. Please check your email for updates on the morning of the event.

COVID-19 Information: This program will be entirely outdoors (an outside porta potty will be available). Please do not attend if you are experiencing or have experienced in the last two weeks any symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.).

Cancellation policy: If you register and can no longer attend this event, please let the Clifton Institute know as soon as possible so that we can open your spot to someone else.

By registering for this event, you are affirming that you have read and agree to the Clifton Institute liability release policy.

We look forward to seeing you at the Clifton Institute!

Parks for Pollinators Bioblitz, September 9th

Image Courtesy of the Clifton Institute

Saturday, September 9, 2023
10:00 AM
 – 1:00 PM

Cost: Free!

Riverside Preserve
8150 Leeds Manor Rd
Marshall, VA 20115

Registration is required!

Come along while the Clifton Institute partners with the Fauquier County Department of Parks and Recreation to participate in the Parks for Pollinators Bioblitz! 

Participants will explore Riverside Preserve with the goal of documenting as many different kinds of butterflies and bees as possible! This event is part of the Fauquier County Bee City USA initiative to learn about and conserve pollinators in the county. All levels of naturalists are welcome!

Please note that this program meets at Riverside Preserve, NOT at the Clifton Institute. The address is 8150 Leeds Manor Rd, Marshall, VA 20115. Participants will meet by the environmental education shed / port-a-potty. You can park on the lawn near the building, or you can drive all the way to the lot at the bottom of the hill and walk back up.

Age: Adults and children accompanied by an adult.

Weather policy: Rain or shine except in case of extreme weather (e.g. thunderstorm or significant snow fall). Please check your email for updates on the morning of the event.

COVID-19 Information: This program will be entirely outdoors (an outside porta potty will be available). Please do not attend if you are experiencing or have experienced in the last two weeks any symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.).

Registration is REQUIRED.

Cancellation policy: If you register and can no longer attend this event, please let organizers know as soon as possible so that they can open your spot to someone else.

By registering for this event, you are affirming that you have read and agree to the Clifton Institute liability release policy.

Results of The Clifton Institute’s 28th Annual Butterfly Count

Photo by Juan Gonzalez, Peck’s Skipper at The Clifton Institute 28th Annual Butterfly count

The Clifton Institute had a great count this year! They found 1,856 butterflies of 39 species. Compared to previous years, numbers were down, but diversity was about average. Other butterfly counts in the area have been down this year as well and we are guessing that the drought is to blame. Despite that, they had new high counts for Pipevine Swallowtail, Pearl Crescent, Red Admiral, Horace’s Duskywing, and Sachem, and no new lows. Numbers of Sachems and Pearl Crescents were both way up from previous highs.

Photos from the day are here!

This year they had the help of 38 volunteer counters that ranged from beginners to experts. Their area leaders were David Cox, Victoria Fortuna, Sue Garvin, David Gorsline, Walt Gould, Larry Meade, and Rebeca Sanchez-Burr. Many thanks to all for supporting the count!

A Thank you also to all of the landowners that allow access and make this count possible each year! Peck’s Skipper photo by Juan Gonzalez.

Festival at Leopold’s Preserve Coming This Fall, September 23

Saturday, September 23, 2023
11 am – 3 pm
16290 Thoroughfare Rd, Broad Run, VA 20137

See the schedule here.

Mark your calendars for the Fall Festival at Leopold’s Preserve on Saturday, September 23, from 11 am – 3 pm EST. Presented by the White House Farm Foundation and Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, this family-friendly celebration promises a delightful experience amidst the splendor of the fall season.

This exciting event will feature an array of activities and attractions for all ages. Enjoy the festivities with tables from nonprofit organizations, vendors offering unique goods, popular delights from food trucks, and local wine.

For nature enthusiasts, embark on guided nature hikes that will unveil the breathtaking beauty of Leopold’s Preserve, allowing you to explore its trails, meadows, and observation areas. Kids will have a blast with fun-filled activities like face painting, carnival-style games, and a raffle of nature-related products. Don’t miss out on this memorable event that brings together the community and champions for the environment.

It will be a great time, and they look forward to seeing you there!

Fairfax Master Naturalist Chapter Project Update

Photo credits:  Overgrown Woodland Edge Garden picture by Paul Van Rjin, Friends of Mason Neck State Park

FMN Chapter Project Update by Sarah Mayhew

The pollinator gardens at Mason Neck State Park remain a work in progress.  Some of them are looking beautiful and others are still looking neglected.  That is because we are responsible for reclaiming 6 different pollinator garden beds.  Five of them are looking good.  The sixth one is the largest — the Woodland Edge Garden is 56 ft x 52 ft or almost 3000 sq. ft.  Our two July workdays focused on getting 1/3 of the Woodland Edge Garden cleared for “smothering” the Japanese Honeysuckle under black plastic.  Here are the before, during, and after pictures of that work:

Photo credits Overgrown Woodland Edge Garden by Paul Van Rjin, Friends of Mason Neck State Park


Photo credits Smothering Woodland Edge Garden by Paul Van Rjin, Friends of Mason Neck State Park


Photo by Sarah Mayhew, FMN Gerald Rob Warren with weed whacker Mason Neck Chapter Project


Photo by Sarah Mayhew, FMN Chapter Project mowed Woodland Edge Garden

As you can see, there was a lot growing and then we cut it all down to ground level.  The next workday our volunteers laid down the black plastic, creatively repurposing the chicken wire we removed from the fence to help weigh down the plastic!

Our August workdays will be on Tuesday, August 8, and Saturday, August 12, 2023.  We have moved the start time to 9:00 a.m. to avoid the heat.  Our goal for these two days is to remove a large multiflora rose bush and selectively weed some invasives from the remaining two thirds of the garden that is in much better shape.  We will be identifying many native plants as we go, so you will have a good opportunity to learn new plants, too.  You can sign up to help us here:  Mason Neck State Park Pollinator Garden


There is one more update to the Chapter Project schedule.  We discovered in July that our “second Saturday” schedule conflicts with the Green Breakfasts.  We are moving our workdays to a “third Saturday and third Tuesday” schedule beginning in September.  We don’t want to deprive any member of the Continuing Education opportunity the Green Breakfasts provide.  Keep learning!

Audubon Afternoon on September 24: The Story of Kirtland’s Warbler with Nathan Cooper

Photo: Nathan Cooper

Sunday, September 24, 2023
2:30 – 4:30 PM

National Wildlife Federation Building 
11100 Wildlife Center Drive
Reston, VA 20190


Mark your calendar now for the next Audubon Afternoon on September 24. After catching up with your ASNV friends, you will enjoy a presentation by the Smithsonian’s Nathan Cooper. He will discuss his research on North America’s rarest songbird, the Kirtland’s Warbler. Over the past few decades, Kirtland’s Warblers have undergone a remarkable recovery, from just 167 males in the world in 1987 to more than 2,200 males today. In addition to having a compelling conservation story, its small population size and restricted breeding and winter ranges provide an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating and interconnected annual cycles of songbirds. Cooper will take the attendees on a journey through the annual cycle of the Kirtland’s Warbler and share what we have learned from this rare species. FREE! No registration required, but you may wish to register to get an email reminder of the event.

Join your friends on Sunday afternoon for this quarterly live Audubon Afternoon at the National Wildlife Federation Building, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive in Reston.

There will be an informal gathering starting at 2:30 so you have an opportunity to reconnect with everyone. Please feel free to bring any food and drink you would like to share with everyone during the informal portion of the program. At 3:00 PM, we’ll have a presentation by the Smithsonian’s Nathan Cooper.

Nathan Cooper is a behavioral ecologist and conservation biologist. He studies how migratory birds interact with each other and their environments throughout the annual cycle. He is primarily focused on the ecology and conservation of the Kirtland’s Warbler, and is currently involved in several science- and conservation-based projects with this recently delisted species. Cooper earned a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University, an M.S. in Biology from Portland State University, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Tulane University. He first joined the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center as a Ph.D. student in 2008, and was awarded both Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships there, before being promoted to Research Ecologist in 2020.

Registration is not required, please bring friends, family, neighbors, etc!



Join The NABA Butterfly Count, September 10th


Photo By David Illig, Variegated Fritillary (NABA Butterfly Count)

Click here for registration information.

The Butterfly Count is an ongoing program of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) to census the butterflies of North America (United States, Canada and partially Mexico) and to publish the results. Volunteer participants are assigned a count area with a 15-mile diameter. The volunteers conduct a one-day census of all butterflies sighted within that circle.

Volunteers are encouraged to attend the butterfly identification webinar on Sept 5 (FREE for ASNV Members; $10 for non-members).

Volunteers of all experience levels are welcome! Every team will be led by an expert. Participants are encouraged to stay with their team for the duration of the event. A tally rally will take place at 4:00 PM at Belle Haven Pizzeria at 1401 Belle Haven Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22307.

This count is organized by Larry Meade. Deadline to register is Thursday, September 7 at 9:00 PM so you can be assigned to a team on Friday. Teams will each meet at their designated count locations.

Larry Meade is president of the Northern Virginia Bird Club and a member of the ASNV Adult Education Committee. He is a frequent bird walk leader and has been involved in numerous Audubon Christmas Bird Counts and NABA Butterfly Counts. He is the compiler of the Alexandria Circle NABA Butterfly Count.

Welcome to the Fairfax County Park Authority Latino Conservation Week, July 15th

Welcome to the Fairfax County Park Authority Latino Conservation Week, a celebration of the community’s profound connection to nature and their contributions to conservation efforts. This week-long event invites you to embark on a journey of exploration, education, and engagement, honoring the rich heritage and environmental stewardship of Latino individuals. Join the celebration with these fun-filled, family programs!

Downloadable Flyers:

In English: Latino Conservation Week (

Here are some featured events:

Free Fishing at Lake Fairfax
Saturday, July 22, 2023
8:00 AM -12:00 PM

1400 Lake Fairfax Drive
Reston, VA, 20190
Map of Lake Fairfax Park

Join our expert staff to guide fun fishing adventures. Our bilingual staff will help answer questions about rules, regulations and fishing advice. The free event includes all equipment, tackle, and bait.

Conservation Day at Frying Pan Farm Park
Saturday, July 15, 2023
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

2709 West Ox Road
Herndon, VA, 20171
Map of Park

Head on down to the farm for wagon rides, tours and fun at Frying Pan Farm Park. This free event will feature wagon rides and tours of the farm in Spanish.
Wagon Rides at 10:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12 p.m.
Tours of the Farm at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Native Plant Seminar
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
7-8 PM

Register today at

Explore native plants with a free Zoom seminar in Spanish. Learn how to identify and remove invasive plants with expert, Patricia Greenberg, Invasive Management Area Program Manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority.
Register today at

Results of Third Annual Dragonfly Count at The Clifton Institute

Photo by Ana Ka’ahanui, Blue Dasher dragonfly

The Clifton Institute third annual dragonfly count took place on Sunday, June 25th. Their goals with the count are to track changes in dragonfly numbers to aid in their conservation and to generate interest in this fascinating group of insects.

With the help of 25 volunteers, they found 57 species of dragonflies and damselflies, a new high! They have now seen 67 species across the three years. They added three new species to the count this year, Aurora Damsel, Vesper Bluet, and Sable Clubtail (Larry Lynch photo). Other highlights included rare or uncommon species like Laura’s Clubtail, Lilypad Forktail, Appalachian Jewelwing, Sphagnum Sprite, and Amber-winged and Elegant Spreadwings (Linda Gammello photo).

It’s really exciting to start to be able to compare abundance across years. Numbers of several of the common pond-dwelling species (Slaty and Widow Skimmers, Eastern Amberwing, Common Whitetail, and Blue Dasher; Bob Blakney photo) were down this year. Could this be a result of lower water levels from the drought?

The results of the count are here and some of the best photos are here.

Thank you so much to the volunteers that made the count possible! Their area leaders this year were Bridget Bradshaw, Josh Jakum, Larry Lynch, and Larry Meade. A thank you to the landowners who allowed access to their special properties! The count volunteers are so grateful for their support of the count.

Invasive Removal Grant Opportunity for Communities in Fairfax County

Photo: FMN Margaret Fisher, Trees being engulfed by invasive plants

The wooded common areas of community associations and places of worship are not only amenities for humans but also important elements of the infrastructure, cooling the environment and soaking up stormwater that otherwise causes downstream flooding. The woods are also home for many non-human neighbors. In times past, these areas would take care of themselves, but those days are past in Fairfax County. The trees are under numerous threats, but the invasive non-native tree-killing plants constitute one of the worst of them. Invasive plant removal and management can be achieved with dedicated leadership, expertise, long-term planning, and funding. This grant program is intended to help communities start that process and to provide some funding opportunity.

Audubon At Home mini-grants of $3,000 are available. Applications are due August 15. Learn more here.