Ecological Landscaping with Charles Smith, September 24th and October 1st

Curleyheads photo by Rusty Moran

Virtual, register here
Thursdays, 24 September and 1 October 2020
$25 fee

Are you ready to put the Audubon at Home principles to action? Then this workshop is for you! In this 2-session workshop, participants will learn to apply ecological principles to creating backyard habitats and restoring ecosystems. Focus will be on looking not only at the needs of animals, but working with nature and using local ecosystems as examples for selecting species, building soils and providing natural structure.Charles Smith is a native of Arlington, VA, and a naturalist and ecologist with 25 years of experience working primarily in natural resource management, including the Fairfax County Park Authority and five years with Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. He is currently branch chief of Fairfax County Stormwater Planning Division, focusing on stream and natural area restoration.

Social Science Perspectives on Ethno-racial Diversity in Wildlife Viewing and Conservation webinar recording

A closed-captioned recording of the webinar is now available online, in case you missed it, want to watch again, or would like to share it with others. You can find the webinar here:

In this webinar, Jonathan Rutter (Virginia Tech) shares some insights from the social sciences on ethno-racial diversity in wildlife viewing and conservation. At the center of the webinar is a study on the relationship between race, ethnicity, and birdwatcher specialization based on a large, national survey of eBird users. Jonathan also shares an overview of the importance of ethno-racial diversity in wildlife conservation, management, and recreation; barriers to minority participation in outdoor recreation; and best practices for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in wildlife viewing, based on literature review conducted for this project. A short panel discussion includes Dr. Ashley Dayer (Virginia Tech) and Dr. Jennie Duberstein (Sonoran Joint Venture), who are co-authors on the study.

This webinar emerged principally in response to requests from the conservation community for broader translation of findings from the birdwatcher survey and in an effort to distill and share social science that can guide conservation organizations as they work to address issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is in no way intended to replicate or replace the rich and important conversations about the lived experiences of people of color in birding, science, and conservation that have been occurring for some time, and increasingly over the summer of 2020. We acknowledge that the racial composition of speakers in this webinar is more reflective of our existing conservation community than the community we want to build, and we look forward to opportunities to highlight more diverse voices and perspectives in subsequent webinars and resources.

This webinar was co-hosted by the Human Dimensions Subcommittee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) and the Wildlife Viewing and Nature Tourism Working Group of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA).

A list of the references used in the presentation and some other recommended reading can be found as an attachment in the webinar link.

Learn Something New with ANS Naturalist Hour

Mason Neck photo by Jerry Nissley

One of Capital Nature’s favorite providers of virtual nature programming in the region is the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS). Through its Naturalist Hour series, ANS hosts two to three expert naturalists each week to explore fascinating topics such as urban foraging, birds, caterpillars, climate change, botanical folklore, fungi, crickets, nature journaling and the list goes on.

Learn from entomologist Mike Raupp, for example, that 1.5 million periodical cicadas will emerge per acre next Spring! Mycologist and environmental educator Serenella Linares has taught us about the proper way to photograph mushrooms for identification. Wildlife education and outreach specialist Kerry Wixted has elucidated how various animal species mate in her session: “Wild Sex: How Nature Does It.” Stay tuned for details about another ANS Naturalist Hour from our team on October 27th, “Community Science with Capital Nature.”

If you have any nature-related expertise that you’d like to share with the community, contact for possible consideration for Naturalist Hour. 

Invasive Water Chestnut Presentation, by Dr. Nancy Rybicki

Photo by N. Rybicki

Posted with permission of the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS)

At the virtual Fairfax Master Naturalists Quarterly Chapter Meeting in May, Dr. Nancy Rybicki introduced us to a recently discovered non-native, invasive water chestnut species that is overrunning lakes and ponds in Fairfax County. She is seeking help organizing mechanisms to locate and eradicate this culprit before it becomes widespread.

Her presentation may be found here.

Fairfax Master Naturalists receive one hour of continuing education credit for reading the presentation if they missed it in person.

As an added bonus, there is a recent article in Chesapeake Bay Magazine about this water chestnut problem. 

Audubon Afternoon with Amanda Gallinat, September 13th

Photo: Hermit Thrush, Jeremiah Trimble

Sunday, 13 September 2020
3 – 4:30 pm
Free, but registration is required

Climate change shifts the timing of autumn, risking mismatch between migratory birds and nutritious native fruits

Dr. Amanda Gallinat is an ecologist who studies how environmental change affects plants, birds, and their interactions. Her recent research focuses on the effects of climate change on the timing of seasonal biological events in the northeast, including fruit ripening and bird migration, and how these climate-driven changes alter food availability for birds in autumn. Amanda’s research incorporates the historical field notes of Henry David Thoreau, long-term bird banding records, museum specimens, and field observations, and her work has been featured by National Audubon, The Wildlife Society and American Scientist. Amanda has a B.A. from Carleton College and a PhD from Boston University, and she is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Utah State University.

Fairfax County Community-Wide Energy and Climate Action Plan Seeks YOUR Input

Fairfax County is developing its first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) and your input is needed! Only three percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the county come from local government and school operations, the rest are from cars and trucks on our roads, energy use in our buildings, waste management processes, and other community sources.

It’s up to all of us to take steps, even small ones, to reduce our emissions so that our families, friends, neighbors, and future residents of Fairfax County are spared the consequences of climate change and can thrive in a clean, healthy, prosperous community. Join one of three virtual public meetings in late August and early September and take the CECAP public survey to share your opinions and suggestions. Your input will be considered by the CECAP Task Force as they make decisions about climate change mitigation goals, strategies, and actions we can take in the years to come.

FMN Quarterly Chapter Meeting, 21 September

Photo by Jason Gunn Burton

Monday, 21 September 2020
7 pm
Zoom link forthcoming

Two speakers have been scheduled to engage us in our natural curiosity. Each presentation will last about 45 minutes. A Zoom link will be sent out through our FMN GoogleGroup for your connection convenience. Please email if you are not on our GoogleGroup and would like the link. This is a public event.

Jay Lechtman will talk about carnivorous plants. Jay, a resident of the Wolf Trap area of Fairfax County, has been an enthusiastic amateur botanist for more than 30 years. He learned about both basic (e.g. stratification) and advanced (e.g. smoke water, gibberelic acid) methods of germinating seeds as part of his involvement in propagating rare and often endangered carnivorous plants, many of which are native to the Eastern United States, including several in Virginia. As a former journalist and a published author, he has written a number of articles on botanical topics in both local and international publications, including Grandiflora MidAtlantic Gardening Magazine.

Nick Walker will talk about the American Eel. Nick is a conservation biologist and the mayor of Eel Town. He runs the website. Nick is an environmental scientist focused on American Eel research, taking an integrative approach that combines natural science, social science and cultural science. In addition to his eel work he’s been a park ranger, an award-winning teacher, owns Journal Editors of America LLC and is the Mayor of Eel Town. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Public Policy from George Mason University and an M.Sc. in Animal Biology from the Universidade Federal de Viçosa. He founded Eel Town in 2017.

Virginia Water Monitoring Council Virtual Conference

21-22 September 2020
Via GoToWebinar

This year’s Virginia Water Monitoring Council Conference will be held using a virtual format through GoToWebinar. Topics include coastal resilience, plastic pollution, Winter Salt Watch, and more. The program runs from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each day, September 21st and 22nd. Registration is $30/person.

For more agenda, information, registration and contacts, see the conference webpage.

Confusing Fall Warblers, webinars 9 & 10 September

Photo: Magnolia Warbler, Seth Davis/Audubon Photography Awards

Two webinars
Wednesday, 9 Sep and Thursday, 10 Sep 2020
7 – 8:30 pm
Register here

Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for a webinar with Marc Ribaudo and learn to identify warblers that pass through Northern Virginia in the fall.

This workshop is back by popular demand. Don’t be afraid of the little green jobs! The presenter will focus on the field marks of fall warblers that typically pass through our region, with an emphasis on species that look very much different in the spring than fall, and species that are most often confused. 

Marc Ribaudo is an avid birder with over 40 years of field experience.  He regularly led trips for the Northern Virginia Bird Club and Friends of Dyke Marsh before retiring and moving to North Carolina. We are thrilled to have him teach this online workshop.

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project Training, August 29

August 29, 2020

11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Some of our VMN chapters already participate in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, a large-scale citizen science study of monarchs during the breeding season. This is a project that can be done outdoors on-your-own or in small groups and even on your own property (if you have sufficient milkweed plants.)

This online training will give you the background you need on monarch biology, the monitoring protocols, and the data entry procedures in order to participate in the MLMP in the future. The training will also be relevant for people already participating in the MLMP. If, after the training, you want to participate in the MLMP, please work with your chapter to make sure it is an approved project.

This training is being coordinated by the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project and Monarch Joint Venture, so please visit their web page for the event for more information and registration. Note that the registration deadline is August 19 if you choose to receive print materials in the mail (which is not required.)

Starting the MLMP was part of my graduate research back in the 1990s, so I’m always excited to get Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers involved in the project and to help if I can. There’s a lot more to learn about monarchs in Virginia, so we can use some more data points!

Michelle Prysby

VMN Program Director