Christmas Bird Count Workshop

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

National Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Center Drive 11100, Reston, Virginia
November 24, 2019
1:00 pm – 03:00 pm

Location:

Join Phil Silas, the Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count compiler, at the National Wildlife Federation to learn about this long-running citizen science bird survey. Phil will cover its purpose and scope, explain how we organize our CBC, and show where the data goes and how it is used. The workshop offers tips on preparing for a winter bird count and will review how to identify many of the birds seen in our area in winter. Workshop is free, but registration is required. 

Stream monitoring volunteer opportunities

Reston Association Stream Monitoring Workshop
Reston VA
Saturday, 16 November 2019
11am – 2pm

What better way to enjoy the changing seasons than to get your feet wet in one of Reston’s streams? RA welcomes new volunteers to assist with stream monitoring at several locations. Get involved with a small team to collect data and identify insects with the goal of assessing the health of Reston’s streams. Not only do you get to learn about streams, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends! Learn more and register.

Accotink Creek Stream Monitoring Session
Lake Accotink Park, Springfield VA
Saturday, 14 December 2019
9:30am-11:30am

Join Friends of Accotink Creek for a rewarding and fun time for adults and children who enjoy helping our parks and environment by identifying and counting stream critters to document the health of the stream. See upcoming Accotink Stream Monitoring events here.

Planning for 2020 City Nature Challenge: Please complete survey

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

In case it’s not on your radar already, save the dates for April 24-27 for making observations during the City Nature Challenge, then adding identifications until the results are announced on Monday, May 4, 2020.

There are well over 100 cities participating again. To recap how we’ve organized in the DC area, anyone is welcome to participate & organize events and communication within your organization/neighborhood/groups. We’ll have monthly calls to share pertinent information, probably starting in December.

For individuals who are interested in taking a leadership role in organizing across the region (for things like outreach, social media, etc), please fill out this survey if you haven’t already. Stella Tarnay and Carrie Seltzer will be in touch for next steps with last year’s leadership group and anyone who fills out the survey.

Winter Salt Watch, your help needed!

With a chill in the air and snowstorms already blowing through some parts of the country, we know that ice, snow, and salt aren’t far behind. It’s time to gear up for Winter Salt Watch!

Last year Winter Salt Watch volunteers helped Izaak Walton League learn more about chloride levels in 17 states across the country. Volunteers and community groups took more than 300 readings using their Salt Watch kits! You can join this nationwide citizen science project and find out how road salt is affecting your local waterways. Order your FREE Winter Salt Watch kit today – even if there’s no snow on the ground yet. You can use your kit right away to take a reading before the road salt starts to pile up. These readings are called “baselines”, and they give you a number against which to compare your winter chloride readings. Without a baseline, you can’t effectively track changes in chloride levels and what’s causing these changes, such as road salt application. Aquatic life is affected by chloride when levels exceed 230 ppm (parts per million). Water treatment plants are not equipped to filter out extra salt, so it can end up in your tap water and even corrode your pipes.

This year Izaak Walton League plans to synthesize and share the Salt Watch data with participants regularly throughout the season. Don’t miss an update – request your FREE Salt Watch kit right now!

Learn more about the connection between road salt and water quality.

Explore last year’s results – and see this year’s baselines!

Cutting edge: Water Chestnut Program (WCP) Meeting, Nov. 15th

Twin Lakes Golf Course, Club House, Ball Room
6209 Union Mill Rd., Clifton VA 20125
Friday, 15 November 2019
10 am – 2 pm

The Fairfax Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists is facilitating an informational meeting about the invasive water chestnut (Trapa bispinosa).

The water chestnut program (WCP) would be an early detection and rapid response project for naturalists who would like to identify, verify, map and remove this novel species of water chestnut before it becomes established. The focus area is within the Potomac River watershed in Virginia.

This type of water chestnut, discovered by Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries (VGIF) in the tidal Potomac River at Pohick Bay in 2014, is not known to be established elsewhere in the USA. Scientists at the US Geological Survey (USGS) have found that it is spreading, but it is not yet considered widespread, or outside the Potomac Watershed. This is an opportune time to take measures to remove it before it becomes a huge menace in the Potomac River and watershed. Species of water chestnut (Genus, Trapa) are known to spread extensively and be invasive in Virginia and other regions of similar climate. Trapa can quickly grow over the surface of shallow water, completely shade out native submerged aquatic plants, impede water flow, clog irrigation pipes, alter biodiversity, and obstruct recreational boating and swimming.

Come to learn about this water chestnut species and explore options for eradicating it.  Virginia Master Naturalists, natural resource managers, pond owners, gardeners, naturalists, invasive species managers, pond management companies, and other interested parties are welcome to attend.

Program is free and open to the public. Please see the agenda and register here.  Questions? Email vmnfairfax@gmail.com.

Fairfax Master Naturalists:  This program qualifies for Continuing Education credit.

Fairfax County Bug Bioblitz, Oct. 25-31st

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Gear up for Halloween by looking for creepy crawlies in your neighborhood! Insects support whole ecosystems. Let’s celebrate them!

Insect populations are declining worldwide. Help us monitor our local insect and arachnid populations with this fun citizen science project.

Using iNaturalist, an app that can be downloaded to your Android or Apple phone, make and upload your observations between October 25th – October 31st, anywhere in Fairfax County. You can also join them for their public event on Saturday, October 26th from 10 am – noon at Lake Accotink Park.

More information on iNaturalist here.

 

Using Service Learning and Citizen Science as a Meaningful Context to Teach Plant Science, a talk Nov. 17th

Green Springs Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA
Sunday, 17 November 2019
1 – 4pm

Join the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society at their annual meeting with speaker Dr. Peter Mecca.

Dr. Mecca will describe some of the science-learning opportunities available to students at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia. For example, every fall and spring, Mason students assist National Park Service Staff at Shenandoah National Park to remove invasive plants along the Appalachian Trail. In addition, Mason students are leaders in urban agriculture through traditional gardening (raised beds) and alternative gardening (hydroponics, FarmBot) methods. The presenter will share information about a potential new learning opportunity for students – a citizen science experience in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Peter Mecca has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Ecology from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. degree in Environmental Biology from Hood College, and a B.S. degree in Secondary Education – Biology from Penn State. He has served as a public school teacher, science education consultant, administrator, and a university faculty member. Prior to his current position, Dr. Mecca was the Instructional Systems Specialist for Science with the U.S. Department of Defense Schools. He is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Virginia Association of Science Teachers, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, and the Council of State Science Supervisors and was awarded the Conservation Education Teacher of the Year by the VA Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Welcome to Project eTrout, citizen science from USGS

Welcome to Project eTrout [instructional video]!

Virtual reality (VR) provides exciting opportunities for environmental education and research. We invite your participation in a new program to engage students, anglers, and citizen scientists in fish ecology and climate change research using new VR methods. Participants will learn about fish ecology first-hand by exploring streams in VR and will be members of a research team lead by US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists. This program is free and designed for students, anglers, and citizen scientists of all ages.

Here’s how it works:

1. USGS collects 360-degree video samples from trout streams in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (completed during summer 2018).
2. Participants access videos from a website and use standard computer monitors or VR headsets (e.g., Google cardboard) to watch them.
3. Participants then record data on fish abundance.
4. USGS then analyzes the combined data and reports key findings to participants.

 

Click here to begin.

Click here for a summary of results.

 

For more information and how to register contact:

Nathaniel (Than) Hitt, PhD
US Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center
304-724-4463

https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/nathaniel-hitt

Save the date for the Big Sit!, Oct. 12th

Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area
10702 Harley Road, Lorton, VA, 22079
Saturday, 12 October 2019
8am – 1 pm

The Big Sit! is an annual, international birding day sponsored by Bird Watcher’s Digest and Swarovski Optics. This family fun event was founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club to promote the sport of birding.

The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a bird-a-thon—participants tally bird species seen or heard within a given time period. It’s called the Big Sit for a good reason—it’s like a tailgate party for birders. Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and Meadowood Bureau of Land Management staff for this event.  Bring a chair and your binoculars. Snacks will be provided. You also may go on a guided bird walk or participate in a kid-friendly activity. This event is FREE of charge and open to the public. Watch a video that provides background about the BigSit phenomenon.

Christmas Bird Count Workshop, Nov. 24th

National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive Reston, VA 20190
Sunday, 24 November 2019
1 – 3 pm

Join Phil Silas, the Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count (CBC) compiler, to learn about this long-running citizen science bird survey. Phil will cover its purpose, and scope, explain how we organize our CBC and show where the data goes and how it is used. The workshop offers tips on preparing for a winter bird count and will review how to identify many of the birds seen in our area in winter. Light refreshments will be served.

Instructor: Phil Silas is a popular field trip leader and volunteers on many counts and surveys in the area.

This workshop is FREE, but registration is required.  The CBC will be held December 15th.  Learn more here.