Birds and Culture with Bill Young, Six online sessions, November 16th – December 1st

Parc de Belleville, Julien Malland

November 16, 17, 23, 24, 30; December 1, 7:00 to 8:00 PM
6 one-hour sessions, 7 — 8 pm
Fee: $40
Register here

Birds have inspired the imaginations of people from prehistoric times to the modern era. They have influenced the development of human language, religion, music, literature, art and many other areas. Audubon Society of Northern Virginia‘s Birds and Culture will examine these relationships in a 6-part course. Birders of all skill levels will be able to understand the content.

Instructor: Bill Young is a writer who lives in Arlington. He is the author of The Fascination of Birds: From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat. He is the co-creator of the MPNature.com website, which contains information about birds, plants and other aspects of natural history at Monticello Park in Alexandria. Bill also makes nature videos, and his YouTube channel has had over half a million views.

Join Project FeederWatch: Learn how with Greg Butcher and Dixie Sommers, October 29th

Photo: Feederwatch Kit

Thursday, October 29,2020
7 — 8:30 pm
FREE
Register here

Project FeederWatch is the easiest citizen science you will ever do! From the comfort of your home, you simply count the winter birds that visit your feeders and report your data to Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

This FREE Audubon Society of Northern Virginia workshop will cover a bit of the history of Project FeederWatch, its purpose, tips for identifying birds, and the protocols to be followed while counting.

Instructors: Greg is the Migratory Species Coordinator for U.S. Forest Service International Programs. He is a Ph.D. ornithologist who has worked for the National Audubon Society, American Birding Association, Partners in Flight, Birders World (currently BirdWatching) magazine, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Greg is a recognized public speaker and interpreter for bird conservation and ecology worldwide. He welcomes the opportunity to contribute to Audubon’s environmental mission at the local level.

Dixie Sommers has been an Audubon member since 1986 and became a serious birder after moving back to the Washington area from Ohio in 2006, adding to her long interest in nature photography and travel. She is an avid e-bird user and enjoys using photography to help learn the birds, and sharing her photos on www.ddpix.smugmug.com.

In addition to favorite places in Virginia, her recent birding travels include Colombia, Tanzania, Texas, California, and Mexico. She is also a board member for the Virginia Society of Ornithology and the Friends of Dyke Marsh. Dixie lives in Alexandria, Virginia and retired from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics after a long career of counting jobs and workers. Now she counts birds!

Little Brown Jobs: Online Workshop with Larry Meade, October 22nd

Fox Sparrow photo by David Boltz/Audubon Photography Awards

Thursday, October 22, 2020
7 – 8:30 pm
Fee: $15
Register here

Have you been wondering about all those “little brown jobs” in your backyard? Could you use a little help distinguishing between the House Finches and the Pine Siskins? Song Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows? This Audubon Society of Northern Virginia workshop will concentrate on identification skills for some of the finches, sparrows, and other similar birds in our region, including both residents and migrants, just in time for the arrival of our cold weather birds.

Instructor: Larry Meade, a member of the ASNV Education Committee, is president of the Northern Virginia Bird Club and a former board member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology. He has served as a sector leader for a number of years for several local Christmas Bird Counts and is an avid nature photographer.

NVSWCD Green Breakfast, Youth Conservation Leaders, October 10th

Saturday, October 10, 2020
9 — 10:30 am

Email conservationdistrict@fairfaxcounty.gov for login information.

Young Conservation Leaders
Over the past year, several Fairfax County high school students have worked with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District as part of the Youth Conservation Leadership Institute to develop summer independent research projects. Join us from the comfort of your home and be prepared to be inspired as you learn about their environmental conservation and stewardship projects:
The Danger of Microplastics – Carolyn Rohr
Water Quality in Accotink Creek – Nimesh Rudra
The Efficacy of Different Erosion Prevention Methods – Cynthia Ma
Effect of Microhabitats on Insect Biodiversity in Northern Virginia – Nimesh Rudra
Water Quality and Buffered Stream Banks: What’s the Connection -Becca Jeffries

What is the Youth Conservation Leadership Institute?
The Youth Conservation Leadership Institute (YCLI) is a Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts recognition program for students in 9th- 12th grade that focuses on volunteer service and environmental stewardship. YCLI began as an expansion of Youth Conservation Camp in an effort to keep students engaged in the environmental topics introduced at camp. YCLI offers high school students interested in environmental conservation and stewardship an opportunity to build leadership skills and connect with local mentors involved with environmental issues.

Let’s Hit the Trails

Scott Schroth

Hitting the trails is the first of many volunteer activities Scott Schroth got involved with when becoming a Virginia Master Naturalist. Scott, a recently certified Virginia Master Naturalist (2019 – Fairfax) hit the trails feet first with shovel and saw in hand. I emphasize ‘feet first’ because one of his primary engagements is with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), an organization that maintains 240 miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT) and hundreds of miles of other trails throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and DC. Scott is active in trail maintenance and trail patrol at locations such as Massanutten, Sky Meadows State Park, and Shenandoah National Park. Trail Maintenance is restoration for the purpose of hiker safety that includes trail blazing/marking, clipping, and the construction of rolling grade dips. During Trail Patrol, Scott is there to help hikers and backpackers enjoy the AT experience in a responsible manner by providing trail information and general assistance as needed. The patrol also provides a valuable ‘eyes on the ground’ service by reporting trail conditions to Trail Restoration crews.

In addition, Scott is very active at Fairfax County’s Riverbend Park and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. Both parks are managed by Riverbend staff and there are copious volunteer opportunities at each. Scott credits the friendly and highly qualified Riverbend park staff with making it easy to get involved with the diverse set of opportunities at each park. Scott particularly enjoys citizen science opportunities such as wildflower surveys, native grass seed collection, and the Adopt-a-Spot program. His recent recognition as Riverbend’s volunteer of the month (August 2020) attests to his high energy focus at Scott’s Run. He participated in several invasive removal and habitat restoration projects and led watershed cleanup activities over the summer.

It is wonderful to hear the enthusiasm in Scott’s voice as he talks about the many service activities he is involved with and the resources available via the VMN organization. It’s even more wonderful to sense the enjoyment he receives by volunteering and to see the results of his work in areas of need within our local and national parks. Thank you, Scott, for the immediate impact you have had and thank you to all the VMN volunteers that care about and contribute to sustaining our natural resources.

To get involved as a volunteer at River Bend and/or Scott’s Run please contact volunteer coordinator Valeria Espinoza at valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov  

To get involved as a PATC volunteer, visit www.patc.net and contact a representative listed for your location and area of interest.

Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCes) virtual course, October 6-November 17th

Tuesday Evenings*
October 6–November 17, 2020
7–8:30 pm
Zoom links will be sent ahead of each class
*except Tuesday, November 3

Register here.

Join Chesapeake Bay Foundation and advocates from across Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania for their first ever virtual Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCes) course.

In the weekly class, you’ll hear from speakers about topics ranging from the challenges facing Bay restoration to steps you can take in your own community to improve the health of your local waterways.

The course will include 1–2 hours of pre-recorded materials to watch at your leisure each week before coming together as a class over Zoom for a brief overview and Q&A with speakers. Some classes will be watershed-wide, while others will be region specific.

Free Event: An Afternoon with Dr. J. Drew Lanham, October 2nd

Friday, October 2, 2020
1-30 — 2:30 pm
Register here

Virginia Conservation Network is proud to invite you to An Afternoon with Dr. J. Drew Lanham. The virtual event is FREE to the public and space is limited. 

A native of Edgefield, South Carolina, J. Drew Lanham is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, which received the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize, and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. He is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including Orion, Audubon, Flycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of Nature, State of the Heart, Bartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home. An Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University, he and his family live in the Upstate of South Carolina, a soaring hawk’s downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.

VNPS Potowmack Chapter End of Season Plant Sales Reduced Prices

Photo by Laura Beaty

The best time of year to plant is Fall. The soil is warm and the cooler air temperatures help new plantings overcome transplant shock, roots have time to grow before the cold sets in — and even longer before plants will start to grow again in the spring — when early spring bloomers will sustain early pollinators if planted now.

Due to the pandemic, the Potowmack chapter of Virginia Native Plant Society has not been able to hold their in-person plant sales this year. They count on selling plants that don’t over-winter well in pots. In order to make room and to find homes for our plants, they have decided to have an end of season sale so their loyal customers can enjoy our bounty.
 
All of their potted plants may be purchased, but they have reduced the price of 24 species to $3 each or 2 for $5. In addition, they are offering 11 other species at the rate of 1 free plant for each plant you purchase. They have sale prices for Milkweed, White Wood Aster, Great Blue Lobelia, Wild Bergamot, Orange Coneflower and New England Aster, to name a few.
 
The sales prices will be in effect for the remainder of the season. They are open for sales every Wednesday morning in October from 10 am until 1 pm until we close down the beds for the winter.
 
They have also marked down almost all their grasses, sedges and rushes, and many of their small trees are FREE, so here’s a good opportunity to give them a try! Come see what they have!
 
Please bring a box to carry your purchases home.

They will happily accept empty pot donations in the 1- to 2-gallon size. 
Cash or check only, please. Their sales take place behind the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA.
 
They observe Fairfax County COVID-19 Guidelines.

VDOF Seeks Acorns/Nuts from Virginia Landowners, deadline October 16th

Photo by Dcrjsr – Own work, CC BY 3.0

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is again seeking 12 species of acorns and nuts that can be planted at its Augusta Forestry Center [Crimora, Virginia] to grow into tree seedlings that will become the forests of tomorrow.

Each year, VDOF asks the public from across the state to collect and donate nuts of select species to be planted at the state nursery. These seeds will produce next year’s hardwood seedling crop, which will be sold to Virginia’s forestland owners. Seedlings grown from Virginia-grown seed generally produces trees that will best thrive in our state’s climates.

In 2019, Virginians did a tremendous job collecting acorns for the nursery. “The public supplied us with tons of acorns and walnuts last year. I am always amazed at the output by Virginians every year,” says Assistant Forestry Center Manager Josh McLaughlin.

Certain nuts can be difficult to find regionally, and availability can change year to year. At times, one species of tree in a region may produce minimal acorns, while others are abundant with “acorns hanging like bunches of grapes,” says McLaughlin. This is why VDOF puts out a call-to-action for landowners across the state. The more trees that can be identified for collection, the more nuts can be potentially planted in the nursery.

Protocols and guidelines for acorn collection remain mostly the same as last year, with some minor adjustments to the collection deadline and species list. Virginia landowners interested in sharing their acorns or nuts are asked to follow these guidelines.

During September and early October, it is easy to pick up nuts in many yards and parking lots. Try to avoid trees in more heavily forested areas because there may be different species of trees nearby, making it difficult to sort the nuts by species for proper planting.

The species the tree nursery needs this year are: black oak, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, chestnut oak, live oak, northern red oak, pin oak, southern red oak, swamp chestnut oak, swamp white oak, white oak and willow oak.

Place the nuts in a breathable sack or bag (no plastic, please). Minimize debris in the bag (e.g. leaves, sticks, gravel). On the bag, please label the species and date of collection.

Once the nuts are collected, place in a cool area (like a fridge or basement) until you are ready to drop them off at a VDOF office. In Fairfax County, bring the acorns to the bins on the first floor of the parking garage behind the Virginia Department of Forestry office at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA. Nuts must be delivered by October 16, 2020.

Collectors can find more detailed information about collection procedures, nut identification and frequently asked questions on VDOF’s website: https://dof.virginia.gov/tree/acorn-collect.htm

If you have questions, or if there is a tree that needs to be identified before you collect the nuts, please call the Augusta Forestry Center: 540-363-7000.

Master naturalists receive service hour credit for collecting, packaging, and travel to deliver the acorns at code S035.

Fascinating Facts about Bears (Virtual), October 15th

Photo (c) Barbara J. Saffir

Thursday, October 15,2020
7 pm
Register and learn more.

Join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Jenny Swiggart as she discusses the many fascinating and interesting facts about bears native to the area. Registration required. Participants will receive a link via email to this live-streamed program.