Elkhorn SE Breeding Block (PRIORITY) Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (2016-2020)

Virginia Breeding Atlas II, as of June 2017, 15 breeding bird species have been confirmed for Elkhorn SE, Dickensen County. This is a priority block. Fifteen of 20 probable breeding species have been confirmed.

Confirmed breeding birds 2016 to Present:

Peregrine Falcon
Hairy Woodpecker
Brown Thrasher
American Crow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Jay
Chipping Sparrow
American Robin
Eastern Towee
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Phoebe
Common Raven
Carolina Chickadee
Northern Flicker

SOURCE:
eBIRD, 2017. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell University of Ornithology, Ithaca, New york. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: June 20, 2017)

 

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Update: Catlett SW Breeding Block – Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 

Catlett SW Breeding Block – Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (2016-2020) (known as Catlett Block 5 during the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 1 1985-1989) 

During the current Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (2016-2017), thirteen breeding bird species have already been confirmed for Catlett SW. This already represents an increase from the first breeding bird atlas as only seven were reported to be breeding from 1985-1989. Results so far: 

 • The only species that was found during the first atlas that has not been confirmed for the second atlas is: American Kestrel. All other species from the first atlas have been re-confirmed during 2016-2017.

 • The current atlas has already identified seven newly observed breeding species: Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, House Finch, Eastern Blue Bird, Great-Crested Flycatcher, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Phoebe, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Chipping Sparrow. 

Catlett SW Breeding Block – Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Catlett SW Breeding Block – Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (2016-2020)
(known as Catlett Block 5 during the Virginia Breeding Atlas 1 1985-1989)
-Fauquier County.

This block contains most of the Weston Wildlife Management Area and the a woodland area of C.M. Crockett Park.

During the first year of the current Virginia Breeding Atlas (2016), ten breeding bird species were confirmed for Catlett SW. This already represents an increase from the first breeding bird atlas as only seven were reported to be breeding from 1985-1989. Results so far:

  •   Only three species so far have been found breeding during both atlas periods: Carolina Wren, American Robin, and Barn Swallow. 
  • The current atlas has already identified seven new breeding species: House Finch, Eastern Blue Bird, Great-Crested Flycatcher, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Phoebe, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Chipping Sparrow. 
  •  Three species were identified during the first atlas that were not found breeding during the first year of the second atlas (however four years still remain to confirm these species): American Kestrel, Blue Jay, European Starling.

Midland NW Breeding Block – Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Midland NW Breeding Block – Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (2016-2020)
(known as Midland Block 1 during the Virginia Breeding Atlas 1 (1985-1989)

Birding hotspot, C.M. Crockett Park is located primarily in this block (most of thr parks wood trails fall under Catlett SW). John Marshall’s Birthplace (another birding hotspot) are also in this block. This block contains most of Midland, VA, including the main area of the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport.

During the first year of the current Virginia Breeding Atlas (2016), 24 breeding bird species were confirmed for Midland NW. To date for the second breeding atlas: observed: 62, possibly breeding 27, probably breeding 24, confirmed breeding 24, total 75.This already represents an increase from the first breeding bird atlas as only 22 were reported to be breeding from 1985-1989. Results so far:

  • Only 12 species so far have been found breeding during both atlas periods: Eastern Bluebird, Wood Duck, European Starling, House Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Tree Swallow, Common Grackle, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal and Mourning Dove. 
  • The current atlas has already identified 12 new breeding species: Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Phoebe, Purple Martin, Carolina Wren, American Robin, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Kingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Chipping Sparrow, Red-eyed Vireo and Indigo Bunting. 
  •  Ten species were identified during the first atlas that were not found breeding during the first year of the second atlas (however four years still remain to confirm these species): American Kestrel, Canada Geese, Mallard, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, Great-Crested Flycatcher, Barn Swallow, Tufted Titmouse, Song Sparrow,* Blue Grosbeak. 

*Song Sparrows were noticeably absent in this block in 2016, however, many have been observed in 2017.

                    

The Nature Conservancy Stroll at Brownsville Preserve

On August 11, 2016, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) hosted an early evening public stroll on their Brownsville Preserve located in Nassawadox, VA. Brownsville is the headquarters for TNC’s Virginia Coast Reserve. It is a beautiful property of over 1,000 acres near the water. On the property is a 3-mile trail known as the William B. Cummings Birding and Wildlife Trail. The trail winds through marshes, forests, grasslands, and tidal creeks.

DSC_0779TNC Land Protection Manager, Jim McGowan led the stroll along TNC Outreach and Education Coordinator, Margaret Van Clief. Before the stroll, Jim showed participants a map of coastal Virginia and provided an overview of TNC’s extensive land holdings that provide critical habitat for birds, especially migratory species. The area is also an important fish and shellfish habitat.

TNC’s Virginia Coast Reserve has 14 barrier islands along with mainland property, and works with private landowners to promote conservation. TNC is actively protecting the Virginia coastal areas through land acquisitions and conservation easements.

During the stroll, Jim and Margaret explained the history of Brownsville Preserve. We learned about the family that used to own the land and how TNC acquired the property. We walked through fields, wetlands, and an area with beautiful trees.

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When we reached the former family house, we learned about how it is now used for TNC programs.

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We eventually, made it to the shore where TNC docks two boats. These boats are used to take school children and others out on educational trips.

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The Virginia Coast Reserve is a great spot for birding. According to TNC, at least 380 resident and migratory species have been found on the reserve. Although birding was not the focus of the stroll, TNC had binoculars to loan out to participants.

Egrets and ibises passed over head while we walked through the Brownsville Preserve. There were also Red-headed Woodpeckers and Great-crested Flycatchers taking advantage of some of the older trees on the property.

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Protecting Virginia’s Watershed and Enhancing Wildlife Habitat

On April 17, 2016, Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Piedmont Environmental Council hosted, From the Rappahonnock for the Rappahannock, a conservation event at Marriott Ranch. Before the event, I joined a group of FOR volunteers to plant trees and put up bird nesting boxes on Marriott Ranch’s property.

During the event, I learned about efforts to protect land and water resources in the headwaters of the Rappahannock River. There were experts on hand to explain the conservation work at Marriott Ranch and other properties near waterways.

Tree planting is an important part of mitigating storm runoff along with keeping cattle out of the rivers by providing alternate sources of drinking water. Tom Turner, Conservation Manager, John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District, provided visitors and volunteers an excellent overview of the use of waterers to provide clean, fresh water for livestock.

During the morning hours, I participated in putting up bird nesting boxes. I traveled around the property with Woodie L. Walker, FOR Community Conservationist, and Maggie Magliato and Jackie Bucher, two college students from University of Mary Washington. We evaluated the land for spots to install bird boxes. We hung up two large boxes on trees for American Kestrels and small nest boxes on fence posts aimed at housing Eastern Blue Birds. After nailing up the last small nest box, we spotted a pair of Eastern Blue Birds right nearby! We were excited that they might move into this box!

After we finished with the nest boxes, Woodie drove us over to Fiery Run where we planted trees with other volunteers. In total, 50 volunteers planted several hundred trees near the waterway to reduce soil erosion and absorb storm runoff. This will improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and protect the watershed.

 

The following organizations host volunteer opportunities, training, hikes and more:

Friends of the Rappahannock 3219 Fall Hill Avenue Fredericksburg, VA http://www.riverfriends.org

Piedmont Environmental Council 45 Horner Street
Warrenton, VA
http://www.pecva.org

John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District 98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 31
Warrenton, VA
http://www.johnmarshallswcd.com

Meadowview Biological Research Station: Preserving Ecosystems for Unique Plants in Virginia and Maryland

 Meadowview Biological Research Station held an open house in March to inform the public about their preservation projects to restore bogs and associated ecosystems in Virginia and Maryland. I had recently learned about Meadowview being a hotspot for birds in Caroline County, Virginia. I was curious about the spot, but knew that you needed permission to bird at Meadowview.

Curious to learn what Meadowview was researching, I went online and found their Facebook page. I learned that Meadowview is a non-profit organization focused on preserving and restoring rare wetland plants, habitats, and associated ecosystems. They specialize in an endangered habitat known as pitcher plant bogs or seepage wetlands. These unique areas are endangered, because many of them have been drained for development. The plants found in these wetlands are threatened with extinction, unless conservation efforts are successful.  Meadowview’s goal is to return Yellow Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia flava) and Purple Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea) to their historic ranges in Virginia and Maryland. They are also planting longleaf pines.  Meadowview advertised their open house through Facebook. I am glad I was able to make it to the event, where the staff and volunteers did a great job organizing and hosting.  Attendees toured the greenhouses and open planting areas to see the plants that are propagated there for eventual reintroduction into the wild. We also toured the back woods where their plants are growing. My tour was led by a long-time volunteer, who shared stories of Meadowview’s goals and pointed out plants as we walked and learned about the rare gravel bog located there.  While at Meadowview, I learned that that there is another site they maintain in Sussex County, Virginia. This preserve is known as Joseph Pines Preserve and is 232 acres of land where Meadowview is restoring the longleaf pine/pitcher plant ecosystem. This preserve is unique and quite special as it contains the last remaining yellow pitcher plant populations in Virginia.

Meadowview hopes to attract the rare Red-Cockaded Woodpecker to Joseph Pines Preserve. This species of woodpecker lives in longleaf pine stands and its population has declined drastically with the loss of this habitat. Meadowview also hopes that the preserve will attract Bachman’s Sparrow, an enigmatic resident of mature pine woods and open habitat.

Meadowview’s headquarters in Caroline County is a bird hotspot for both local and migratory birds. When I was there, I looked across the road to Meadow Creek and saw a Bald Eagle perched in a tree. The research station is home to a variety of wetland birds. During migration season, it is a stopover spot. There is a pond on site that was full of birds, and I was told that owls can be found in the woods behind the station. Meadowview welcomes birders to their headquarters in Woodford, VA. Please call them ahead of your visit to make arrangements.

Meadowview sells plants to the public through an online catalog.   Meadowview is located in Woodford, VA. It is supported by membership donations and volunteers. They conduct research, preserve and restore wetlands, and promote the preservation of our natural heritage through education. 

To learn more visit their website: http://www.pitcherplant.org

  

Not Exactly Christmas Decorations in Virginia Parks

What comes in different shapes and sizes and can be found hanging from trees this time of the year?

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Unfortunately, some things hanging from trees are ugly and dangerous. People who fish leave behind fishing tackle and trash in parks all over Northern Virginia.

DSC_0165Fishing tackle can cripple wild birds and turtles. Along the waters edge at most Virginia parks that allow fishing you will encounter fishing lures and fishing line stuck in trees and bushes and on the ground. These lures and fishing line are ugly to look at and they both pose a threat to local and migratory wildlife.

Birds and other animals may get entangled in the fishing line or injured by fishing hooks. Wildlife can even get stuck in plastic containers or drink cans.

Some people that fish seem to have no problem carelessly leaving their trash behind. This is unfortunate because of the severe injuries this debris can cause.

Fishing hooks may be swallowed by wildlife and present life threatening injuries. Discarded monofilament line is very durable and persists in the environment for very long periods of time. This line can become wrapped around a leg, wing, anything and acts like a tourniquet slowing cutting off blood and nerve supply and damaging muscles and tendons, according to Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

Apparently, the reason so many discarded lures can be found in Virginia parks is because people are casting their fishing line close to shore to fish for small fish to use as bait to fish for bigger fish. When lures get caught up in trees and bushes, they are simply cut loose and left in the park.

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Unsightly lures hang in parks for months and months. They are much more obvious during winter when most leaves have fallen leaving branchless trees. Surprisingly, there seems to be no effort by park and recreation employees to cut them down nor remove fishing line that is strewn about in the same areas.

You can help prevent wildlife injuries and death by keeping an eye open for lures and fishing line when you are near ponds, lakes or rivers. Discard items in the trash or alert park officials to the problem. Hopefully, Virginia’s county park and recreation departments will become more proactive in removing debris from parks.

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I found this fishing line at the water’s edge at Germantown Lake in Northern Virginia. It was one long piece that I estimate at 30 feet or more.

Public Comments Welcome: Revised Wildlife Action Plan

The public is invited to three upcoming meetings regarding the draft of the State of Georgia’s revised State Wildlife Action Plan next month.

The State Wildlife Action Plan is a strategy to conserve Georgia’s native wildlife species and natural habitats.

The plan will address conservation over the next ten years that will benefit many species including Golden-winged Warblers.

Public comments can be directed to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources or in person at the following meetings (from 6pm to 8 pm):

July 1: Georgia Wildlife Federation, 11600 Hazelbrand Road, Covington

July 7: Go Fish Education Center, off Interstate 75 (exit 134), Perry

July 8: Susan Shipman Environmental Learning Center, Georgia DNR Coastal Regional Headquarters, One Conservation Way, Brunswick

The public can comment up until July 15.