Volunteers Sought for Frying Pan Farm Park

Photo: Fairfax County Park Authority

Frying Pan Farm Park
2739 West Ox Rd, Herndon

Frying Pan Farm Park is installing a beetle bank / pollinator strip between a pasture fence and the vegetable garden.  The Beetle Bank will provide overwintering habitat for beneficial insects, as well as pathway for visitors to enjoy.  The park would appreciate one or two volunteers to be the point people to maintain the garden.  Tasks would include weeding – especially during the summer, coordinating donations of echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) plants this fall or next spring, and mulching in the fall.  If you are interested, please email: Marjorie.Landis@fairfaxcounty.gov

Stream Cleanups, Invasive Removal and Habitat Restoration, and Stream Monitoring Activities for November and December

Photo: Stream monitoring, Pohick Creek.  by J. Quinn

Stream Cleanups

There are dozens of calls for community action and volunteering, particularly for stream cleanups across the county and region, but here is one you may be interested in.

Surveys

Join these efforts to track biodiversity in the region by conducting surveys, monitoring nests, and more!

Invasive Removal and Habitat Restoration

Join these efforts to remove invasive species, repair trails, and otherwise beautify natural spaces!

  • Habitat Restoration- Friends of Accotink Creek – Klub Kudzu- reoccurring Mon/Thu/Fri in November and December, varying times and locations

  • Habitat Restoration Eakin Park – Friends of Accotink Creek– Saturdays December 3/10, Eakin Park in Annandale 

  • Invasive Plant Removal- Plant NOVA Natives– Tree Rescuers vine ID hands-on training opportunity- Wednesdays/Saturdays in November, varying times and locations

  • Invasive Plant Removal –Friends of Dyke Marsh– November 19 and December 3/17,10:00am- 12:00pm

Stream Monitoring

*NVSWCD Supervised Event*

VASOS Field Exam for Stream Monitoring Certification
When: Friday, November 11, from 3:00-5:00pm OR Saturday, November 12, from 1:00-3:00pm
Where: Wolftrap Creek Stream Valley Park, Vienna
This event is for volunteers taking the field exam only! If you are interested in becoming a certified stream monitor, click here for detailed steps and FAQs. Although it is not required, it is highly recommended to attend a workshop to get some field experience before taking this exam.

More Training and Stream Monitoring Opportunities

The Northern Virginia Water and Soil Conservation District (NVSWCD) is very excited to contribute their stream data to state and national datasets. If you’d like to see data from all the NVSWCD regional stream monitoring team’s active sites, you can find our organization on the Clean Water Hub. Keep in touch with NVSWCD on our Facebook and Instagram.

 

ASNV Project FeederWatch Workshop with Greg Butcher, November 22nd

Photo: Northern Cardinal by Alexis Hayes

Tuesday, November 22,2022
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Workshop is virtual
Workshop is FREE

Please click here to register. 


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 workshop will cover a bit of Project FeederWatch history, its purpose, tips for identifying birds, and the protocols to be followed while counting. After the presentation, your identification skills will be tested with a Kahoot!

Greg Butcher is a Ph.D. ornithologist and Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) board member. In addition to the U.S. Forest Service, Greg has worked for the National Audubon Society, American Birding Association, Partners in Flight, Birder’s World magazine, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Greg is a lively and informative public speaker and interpreter for bird conservation and ecology worldwide.

Christmas Bird Count, December 14th – January 5th

Photo: Winter Wren, Therese Scheller/Audubon Photography Awards

The 123rd Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place between this December 14 and January 5, 2023. General information about the CBC is available on the Audubon website.

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia sponsors the Manassas-Bull Run CBC, which will be held for the 41st year on Sunday, December 18. Those who participated in our count last December will to be contacted no later than Thanksgiving. Anyone who would like to participate in this count but did not participate last year should contact the compiler, Phil Silas, at epsdcva@aol.com, or 703-987-0817, as soon as possible but not later than December 8.

Information on other local CBCs that you may be interested in is available in the November 2022 issue of The Siskin, the newsletter of the Northern Virginia Bird Club. Look for the list on page 3.

If you have any questions or concerns about participating in this fun and very useful annual event, you can email or call Phil Silas.

Rock Hound 101 – The Hole Story

FMVA roadshow booth display; photo Jerry Nissley

As previously announced, FMN recently established a partnership with Friends of Mineralogy Virginia (FMVA). During the summer of 2022 FMN Katy Johnson completed their Rock Hound 101 course and subsequently initiated an introduction of FMVA to FMN. FMN president, Marilyn Parks, then solidified an understanding with FMVA, which resulted in our educational and service partnership. In October 2022, FMN Jessi Tong and I also completed their Rock Hound 101 course.

Mt. Athos Quarry;  photo Jerry Nissley

The objective of FMVA is to promote and expand the study of mineralogy and the hobby of mineral collecting. Their mission is to promote and preserve Virginia mineral and mining heritage while expanding the knowledge of minerals more broadly through community programs and industry partnerships. FMN and FMVA share many mission values so the partnership is a natural opportunity to exchange service hours and continuing educational programs. To that end, FMN approved FMVA as a CE partner; and service hours obtained while working collaborative projects with FMVA may be entered using Community Outreach – E543: Educational and Outreach – – FMN.

Epidote, quartz, ilmenite, actinolite, magnetite collected from Mt. Athos; photo Jerry Nissley

The 101 course consists of five online learning sessions and two field trips to big holes in the ground – also known as quarries. The field trips for this cohort were to the Dale quarry in Chesterfield county, Virginia and to Mt. Athos quarry in Lynchburg, Virginia. The course curriculum consists, in part, of an introduction to basic Geology and in-depth discussions on geological characteristics specific to Virginia formations. Once the basics of Virginia geology are covered the students learn basic skills required to Rock Hound. This includes how and where to hunt for rocks and minerals, an introduction to a vast library of online resource material/databases, and an overview of some basic rock hound tools. Must haves and nice-to-haves.

Rock Hounds in action at Dale Quarry, Chesterfield, Va; photo Jerry Nissley

The field trips provide students active experience using tried and true field techniques on how to safely discover rocks and minerals and how to extract what is found. Safety is stressed at every turn. Rock hounds are given pre-trip safety instructions and inspections by the instructor and each quarry is required to provide a mandatory safety session to go over active ‘day-of’ quarry operations and instructions.

Smokey Quartz with garnets and beryl collected from Dale Quarry; photo Jerry Nissley

Rock hounding in quarries with an experienced instructor provides a controlled learning environment that facilitates the educational value of the day. In addition, fresh samples are essentially scattered all around ready for discovery with minimal digging required. Once honed, rock hound skills may be used in the field of your choice – on hikes, while camping or kayaking, on the beach, in the mountains, or in your local cave. Always be respectful of the land you are on and cognizant of prevailing governance while on private or public lands.

Please contact FMN Jerry Nissley at fmncontinuinged@gmail.com for details on how to register for future FMVA Rock Hound courses.

Rock Hound tools; photo Jerry Nissley

Thomas Hale, President of FMVA and our Rock Hound 101 instructor, authored the first book published under FMVA titled, ‘The Northern Virginia Trap Rock Quarries”, Primedia eLaunch LLC, July 2022. This is the first major publication on Virginia Minerals in thirty years and the book includes color photography.

Available through friendsofmineralogy.virginia@gmail.com.

From One Seed a Handful

It is always encouraging to hear of success stories from FMN volunteers. Then again it is also something special to hear from ‘friends of FMN’ just because they want to share a wonderful story with friends and like minded people and perhaps plant a seed for a future project.

Seed box on lower shelf.             Photo – Jerry Nissley

Such is the case, literally and figuratively, with Sally Berman a friend of FMN Janet Quinn and a volunteer at South Run Park in Fairfax County. Sally emailed Janet saying, “I always enjoy reading the newsletter FMN puts together.  So many great things are happening around the area!! I wanted to share a project we have started.”

Seed Library Reference sheet – courtesy of Sally Berman

She told about a team of dedicated South Run Park volunteers who brainstormed an idea they had while tending the gardens. “Why not start collecting seeds from the gardens to provide a sustainable local seed source?” Gardening is a wonderful time to germinate ideas, eh? Together with fellow volunteers Vick Maddox and Cheryl St. Amant the team started collecting seeds from the South Run plots as a means of sustaining the South Run gardens. As the collection grew they decided to spread the bounty.

Book Box Titles – courtesy of Sally Berman

The collection amassed quickly so they soon added a Free Little Seed Box to complement the existing Free Little Library Box that is adjacent the South Run playground.  The book box is a clever idea in itself. Many of the book titles reference a plant, flower, vegetable, or gardening topic of some sort. So the seed box conceptionally works well within the book box. There is also a long list of gardening infused children’s book titles posted along side the book box as shown in the cover photo.

Kid’s Garden across from the Book and Seed Box. Photo Jerry Nissley

The team also maintains the South Run ‘Native Knoll’ created a few years ago to showcase the use of native plantings in a public landscaping project.
If FMN volunteers would like to advise the team on the use of appropriate native plants for any of the sites or help care for the Knoll or gardens please contact Sally Berman at skberman77@gmail.com.

FMN volunteers may use service code: Parks – S109: FCPA Habitat and Parkland Management – – Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA)

“From one seed a whole handful …” J.M. Coetzee

Green Spring Gardens Seeks Field Trip Leaders

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria VA

Sign up here.

The Youth and Family Education Program Coordinator at Green Spring Gardens is seeking volunteers to serve as teachers for school field trips visiting the Gardens. The field trips are two hours each and run through the school year. View the descriptions of the field trips here.

The confirmed schedule of 2022-2023 field trips is here to check the dates and to sign up. This is also where anyone can sign up to observe a field trip to show how it operates before committing to lead a station.

Questions? Contact Bailey Price at Bailey.Price@fairfaxcounty.gov or (703) 642-5173.

Earth Sangha Nursery Workdays in November

Photo:  Earth Sangha

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays
9 am – Noon
6100 Cloud Dr, Springfield, VA 22150
Sign up here.

Help the Earth Sangha team with fall season tasks. They need help with potting, weeding, sowing seeds and winterizing. They’ll provide tools and gloves. Please dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, and bring your own water. If you arrive late, please call Sarah at 580-583-8065.

Meadowood Partnership

(Cover photo Jerry Nissley)

FMN recently established a partnership with Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area on Mason Neck Peninsula (SRMA). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Eastern States Lower Potomac Field Station manages recreation and natural resources on two properties, one in Maryland and the other in Virginia. The Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) includes 800 acres on the Mason Neck Peninsula in Fairfax County, Virginia, is located just 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. Mason Neck State Park, Pohick Bay Regional Park, Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, and Gunston Hall historic mansion are also located on the peninsula. The peninsula is formed by Gunston Bay to the north, Potomac River to the east, and Belmont Bay to the south.

Morning Meadow (courtesy BLM)

The SRMA landscape contains a variety of terrains and vegetation types. These include gently sloping open meadows, mature hardwood forests along steep slopes, floodplains, and riparian areas, as well as freshwater ponds and streams. Red and white oak, beech, sweet gum, Virginia pine, and persimmon, which are common sights in mid-Atlantic woodlands, appear throughout the forests at Meadowood. The ponds, streams and riparian areas in the SRMA host a wide variety of insects, fish and other wildlife.

Veterans group, Fishing Community Org (FCO), ‘Fishing On Public Lands’ Event (photo Jerry Nissley)

BLM and the State of Virginia survey the population in the fishing ponds periodically, and restock them when needed. Grass-eating carp are among the species stocked in the ponds; they cannot reproduce, and they eat invasive aquatic weeds, which would otherwise overwhelm small ponds. In addition to stocked species, the American eel appears in the area’s ponds and streams and serves as an attractant to the local Bald eagles. Migrating waterfowl such as various ducks species, Canada geese, egrets, and herons commonly occur at water features. Dragonflies and butterflies are abundant at and near the ponds and meadows. Whitetail deer, Fox squirrels, Red fox, and coyotes abound throughout Meadowood. Moreover, the North American beaver makes the occasional appearance in the floodplains of Thompson Creek, Giles Run and South Branch as well as at Enchanted Pond.

Mountain bike trail ramp (courtesy BLM)

Miles of well marked multi-use trails (courtesy BLM)

Equestrian competition (photo Jerry Nissley)

The Meadowood Area encompasses 13.4 miles of hiking trails, 7 miles of horseback riding trails, 6.6 miles of mountain biking trails, and a large equestrian center. Meadowood hosts a universally accessible trail to two fishing ponds, 800 acres of forest and meadows, environmental education programs, horse boarding stable, geocaching, picnic areas, and bird watching sites. Portions of both the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail wind their way through the managed hiking area.

The environmental education programs are developed for homeschoolers, public and private schools, local 4-H groups, and community agencies. Programs consist of bird identification, fishing, habitat hikes, tree identification, Urban Leave No Trace, tracking, invasive weed removal, clean-up days, and many other outdoor environmental educational activities.

FMN/BLM tree planting team. National Public Lands Day. (Courtesy Ryan Sierra Jackson)

In conjunction with National Public Land Day, FMN helped the Meadowood team in our inaugural service project with them by planting trees and shrubs, trimming the pollinator garden, and general landscape maintenance  around the Mustang Trailhead pavilion. Thank you to FMN volunteers Monica Hoffman, Amy Eisenmenger and her husband, and Steve Tryon and his wife for pitching in. Future service opportunities will present themselves so be sure watch for FMN announcements. Please contact Meadowood directly to inquire about open volunteer opportunities or becoming a regular volunteer. Ryan Sierra Jackson at rsjackson@blm.gov is the volunteer coordinator.

FMN welcome’s Meadowood as a chapter partner and created both a Service Code and a CE code for future opportunities.

Service hours may be entered under – S175: Meadowood SRMA Service Projects – – Bureau of Land Management

CE hours may be entered using the category All Continuing Education and then Bureau of Land Managment as the approved CE organization. Please enter project description and/or CE title when recording hours.

Acorn collection for VDOF, deadline October 14th

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) collects a variety of species of acorns and nuts that can be planted at its Augusta Nursery (Crimora, Va.) to grow into tree seedlings that will become the forests of tomorrow. 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.

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. 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.

Virginia landowners interested in sharing their acorns or nuts are asked to review Seeking Acorns and Nuts to Grow Seedlings to learn about the species needed and procedures for collecting acorns and nuts.

This year’s deadline for receiving acorns is Friday, October 14, 2022.