Fairfax County Park Authority, Dark Skies’ Webpage

Photo/Image: Courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority

WHAT IS LIGHT POLLUTION?

Light Pollution is defined by the International Dark Sky Association as the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light which can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate. It’s caused by the excessive and inefficient use of artificial light at night.

This webpage provides detailed information on a variety of topics related to light pollution.

A sample of the site’s contents are listed below:
  • LIGHT POLLUTION COMPONENTS
  • EFFECTS OF LIGHT POLLUTION
  • THE IMPORTANCE OF DARK SKY CONSERVATION EFFORTS
  • TIPS:  WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
  • DARK SKY FRIENDLY OUTDOOR LIGHTING PRINCIPLES

Please take some time to browse through this very informative and comprehensive website,

McLean Gears Up for Dark Sky Celebration, November 12th

Photo: Courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority

Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022
6:30pm – 8:30pm

Lewinsville Historic House
1659 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, Virginia 22101

Register here.

 

Dark skies are the natural state of nature. Over time, humans have increased the amount of light shining into the sky all night long. This excessive light has robbed us of the glimpse of our stars and endangered the natural world around us. We can have dark skies again if we learn to control light pollution with responsible outdoor lighting practices.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is partnering with the McLean Citizens Association, Dark Sky Friends and the Analemma Society to host a celebration of the importance of dark skies.

Come to the historic house in Lewinsville Park on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, to learn about the importance of dark skies in your community. The free event will have hands-on activities and educational opportunities about how to protect the night sky. Learn about nighttime wildlife and constellations. Come experience the night with us and enjoy a small campfire and cocoa. The event runs from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m.

There is no cost to the “Dark Sky Celebration” program, and registration is not required but is encouraged. By signing up, we can notify you in case of inclement weather. The rain date is the following day on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

To learn more about the importance of dark skies, visit the Dark Skies webpage.

A Year in the Life of an Owl, November 2nd

Photo: Courtesy of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Wednesday, November 2, 2022
7:00 pm

Rust Library
380 Old Waterford Rd NW
Leesburg, VA + Google Map

Click here for more information.

Join Liz Dennison of Secret Garden Birds and Bees to follow the region’s four resident owls from winter through fall. You’ll learn what makes owls instantly recognizable and find a few surprises hidden under all those feathers! You’ll get a peek into their romantic courtships, the challenges of raising young, and the difficult transition from nestling to fledgling. And finally, you will see the quiet time when the young seek out their place in the world and the adults can (almost) relax. Four Owl Ambassadors will help Liz tell the story. You’ll meet Scarlett (Barred Owl), Hodor (Great Horned Owl), Phantom (Barn Owl), and Kvosir (Eastern Screech Owl) in the flesh, learn about each species and a little about their personal lives in captivity. You might even get to take a few selfies! This program is co-sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Loudoun County Public Library.

Invite Flying Squirrels to Your Backyard with a Feeding Box, October 23rd

Photo: Fairfax County Park Authority, Flying Squirrel in feeding box

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale, Virginia

Program fee for two people: $15.00
Extra supply fee: $25.00

Click here for more information and registration details. 

Flying squirrels are just as common as grey squirrels in our area. As they are nocturnal, flying squirrels often glide under our radar. From November through March, they are easy to welcome to backyards with large trees.

Families can learn proven strategies to encourage these amazing native flying squirrels to your treed backyard. A naturalist will show you how to recognize their presence and guide you in assembling a feeding box to take home. Two attendees are permitted per registration (one adult and one child over age 4 or two adults). This is an outdoor program. Please bring your own hammer and Phillips-head screwdriver. A $25 supply cost will be included at check out. The program fee for two people is $15.

“Make Your Own Flying Squirrel Feeding Box” is on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Hidden Oaks.

Winter Seed Sowing with Laura Beaty and Donna Murphy, November 1st

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
7 -8 pm
Virtual
ASNV Member Ticket: $10
Non-member ticket: $15
Register here.

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia wants to know: Do you want a garden brimming with life for a fraction of the price you’d pay to install full-grown plants? Learn how to propagate native plants from seed with this helpful tutorial. Now is the time to collect and sow seeds in trays of seed-starter medium for over-wintering and sprouting seedlings in the spring and summer. Laura Beaty and Donna Murphy will recommend seed sources, share helpful tips and tricks, and answer questions from the audience.

Why are my Oaks dying…and what can I do about it?

Photo: Moderate to severe decline symptoms in mature red oak. Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2022
7:00 PM
Webinar

Please register in advance here.

Have you noticed oak trees that appear to die suddenly without explanation? Are you concerned about your oaks dying and want to know what you can do to keep them healthy?

Please join this meeting to learn about Oak Decline Syndrome, a combination of environmental and biological factors that slowly weaken and eventually result in the death of vulnerable oak trees. Oak Decline Syndrome has been studied by the US Forest Service since the 1940’s and has not been linked with any specific insects or pathogens. This webinar will include a general overview of the history, symptoms and management strategies for oak decline in Fairfax County.

THE SPOOKY AND THE SPECTACULAR: ALL ABOUT SPIDERS WITH DR. SARAH STELLWAGEN, October 25th

Photo: Female Jumping Spider, Thomas Shahan

Tuesday, October 25, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

This is a Virtual program

Member Ticket: $15
Non-member Ticket: $25

Click here for more information and registration details. 

 

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia would like to help you celebrate the spooky this October.  Learn all about the spectacular, secret lives of spiders. These eight-legged critters may be a little creepy to some, but they also are fascinating animals with unique hunting strategies. A favorite snack of many birds, arachnids are a crucial part of the ecosystem. Dr. Stellwagen will discuss some of the scary and not-so-scary species that live in our region. You might be surprised by how clever, creative and, yes, even “cute,” spiders can be.

FMN Quarterly Chapter Meeting, September 19th

Curious about the Fairfax Master Naturalist Program?

Come and join a virtual Fairfax Master Naturalist Quarterly Chapter meeting. It will be held on Monday, September 19, 2022 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. It will consist of a short business meeting followed by a presentation by the incomparable Alonso Abugattas. His talk is entitled “From Reptiles to Butterflies: A Capital Naturalist Shares Expertise and Resources.”

Please contact the Fairfax Master Naturalists at [email protected] for more information.

Alonso has won many awards for knowledge and skills about the natural world. He is the creator of the award-winning Capital Naturalist blog and Facebook group, which “reveals some of the wonders of the natural world found right around the Washington, DC Metropolitan area using his own photography and his life-long experiences”. He will be sharing these resources and how they can be helpful for Master Naturalists during his presentation at our fall Chapter meeting.

He has worked as a professional naturalist and environmental interpreter in several jurisdictions, including Fairfax, Alexandria, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and Arlington, where he served as the acting director for Long Branch Nature Center, and is now the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County.

He’s an instructor for five master naturalist chapters, teaching classes in Maryland and Virginia, and was named a Trailblazer (honorary) master naturalist for his role in starting two chapters. He’s held various board positions, including president of the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and is co-founder of the Washington Area Butterfly Club. A member of the identification team for the Virginia Herpetological Society, he wrote a natural history and identification book, The Reptiles and Amphibians of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.

Alonso also serves as a Certified Heritage Interpreter and as Co-chair of the Beltway Chapter of the National Association for Interpretation, receiving regional and national awards, including the Regional Interpretive Manager of the Year. In December 2020, Alonso was named a Regional Environmental Champion by the D.C.-based Audubon Naturalist Society.

Crawl Into Fall With Bug Fest at Lewinsville Historic House – now on October 22nd

Photo: FMN Kate Luisa

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022 (rain date due to Hurricane Ian)
10:00AM – 2:00PM

Lewinsville Park
1659 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, Virginia 22101

Click here for registration details.

Lewinsville Park is featuring Bug Fest on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Come celebrate all things bugs with a creepy-crawly adventure! This event is fun for the whole family Play games and activities including insect safaris, explore live insects, inspect insect collections, log rolling, soil stations, bug walks, critter talks, bug experiments, and make your own bug. Use technology to explore the world of insects. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.

 

Winter Sparrow Identification Workshop, October 14th

Image/photo: Courtesy of The Clifton Institute

Friday, October 14, 2022
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

This is a Zoom event.

Cost: $10 ($8 for Friends of Clifton Institute)

Click here for ticket purchase and additional information.

Every season brings its own challenges for birdwatching. In winter similar-looking sparrows can be hard to tell apart and birding by ear becomes more difficult as birds start singing less and calling more.

This program is intended for both beginner and advanced birders. This program will take place over Zoom.  They will send a link closer to the date.