Naturalist Watch

Hello everyone!

#optoutside hike on the C&O Canal on this Black Friday

I’ve decided to start publishing a list of 10 links relating to nature and the outdoors that I hope you will find interesting and fun. The links will be news articles, videos, podcasts, training, newsletters or anything that I come across that I find particularly helpful in my quest to learn more about nature and become a more seasoned naturalist. I wish I had thought of the idea myself, but I learned about doing these lists through two other bloggers that I follow. Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalists has his Weekend Reads and Tammy Strobel from Rowdy Kittens has her Weekly Happy Links. I don't always have a lot of time during the week to read, so having curated content on topics I enjoy really helps maximizing my time! I haven’t come up with a good name for these types of posts yet (does it need one?), but for the moment, they are going to be called Friday Nature Links because I’ll attempt to post every Friday!

Below are 10 nature links that I found interesting for this Thanksgiving week. I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Picked up the latest Habitat Herald from the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy over the past weekend. The article on Barn Owls was great!
  2. A 3-day Freshwater Benthic Macroinvertebrate Identification workshop for $30. Wha?!
  3. Will be looking at where my avocados come from because of this New York Times article: Avocados Imperil Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Home in Mexico
  4. This is just wild! Recorded Songs Get Birds to Take Roads Less Traveled
  5. Totally attending this webinar: Projected expansion of the Southern Pine Beetle into northern forests
  6. Will be auditing this MOOC coursera class in January 2017: Mountains 101
  7. Looking for adventure inspiration? Check out this list of 10 of the best women-only activity holidays
  8. Looking for some interesting outdoor-related reads now that the Winners of the 2016 National Outdoor Book Awards have been announced
  9. I’m looking at some of these gift ideas for bird lovers.
  10. In my quest to discover new places in the area and meet like-minded folks, I have found the hiking group Washington Women Outdoors. They seem to have a pretty active schedule and I plan on trying one of their adventures soon!

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!

Birding at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship

A few Maryland Master Naturalists braved the cold and the wind to find birds at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship this morning. Our trip leader was Joe Coleman, one of the founders of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, former president of the Audubon Naturalist Society and immediate past president of the Virginia Society of Ornithology. Joe led us through the varied habitat of the Blue Ridge Center for over three miles. We heard and saw 19 bird species including one of my favorite, the Brown Creeper. They are usually so hard to spot due to their diminutive size and great camouflage, but we managed to find two!

Looking for sparrows in the meadows at the Blue Ridge Center 

Looking for sparrows in the meadows at the Blue Ridge Center 

The Blue Ridge Center has a rich history in terms of human interactions with the land. Joe pointed out several log cabins found on the property including a log house which was constructed in the late 1800s. Not much is known about the history of this particular house, but artifacts found in the area indicate that it could have been occupied from the mid to late 19th century to the mid 20th century.

The log house

The log house

Another historic site on the property is this farmstead believed to have been constructed sometime in the mid 1800s. The farmstead, referred to as Everheart Homeplace, includes this main house and various outbuildings including a small chicken coop as well as a collapsing spring house and barn. As you can see from this picture, the house has undergone partial remodeling in the recent past. It is believed that the house was renovated in the 1970s to serve as a vacation home.

Everheart Homeplace

Everheart Homeplace

Another interesting aspect to our walk was running into a few farm animals on our way back to the center. The Blue Ridge Center hosts an independently-operated organic farm which grows USDA Certified Organic produce. You can take a hike in the 900 acres property and get fresh local produce at Mountain View Farm on your way out! Their produce can also be found at various farmer's markets in the area or through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

An inquisitive goat came to greet us

An inquisitive goat came to greet us

Geri making a new friend

Geri making a new friend

You can actually stay overnight at the Blue Ridge Center by renting its restored 19th century farmstead. The Demory-Wortman house sleeps 10 and can be rented directly through the center for $180.00 per night off season November 1 to March 31 and for $220.00 per night from April 1 to October 31. All rental proceeds go directly to the maintenance of the land preserve. There is so much to do in the area. The Demory-Wortman House is located 3 miles from historic Harpers Ferry, W.V., and is only a few miles away from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the C&O canal.

The Demory-Wortman House

The Demory-Wortman House

If you are interested in joining Joe for future birding trips, please refer to the Blue Ridge Center’s events calendar and the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s events calendar. The next birding trip at the Blue Ridge Center is November 26th. Joe also leads birding trips at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve. The next trip for that location is December 10th. Please contact Joe Coleman at 540-554-2542 or jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org if you are interested! Please note that these locations have tons of opportunities for nature programs and field trips on all sorts of topics aside from birds!

I am putting together the next Maryland Master Naturalist outing which will be a hike on the C&O Canal in December. Stay tuned for more details! If you have a trip you want us to do next year, please let me know!

A beautiful view of Short Hill Mountain

A beautiful view of Short Hill Mountain

BRCES Bird List
Nov 20, 2016 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Black Vulture Blue Jay White-breasted Nuthatch
Turkey Vulture American Crow Brown Creeper
Red-tailed Hawk Carolina Chickadee Carolina Wren
Downy Woodpecker Tufted Titmouse Eastern Bluebird
American Robin Northern Mockingbird Northern Cardinal
Song Sparrow White-throated Sparrow Dark-eyed Junco
House Finch

Want to become a Certified Maryland Master Naturalists? Visit the University of Maryland Extension office’s website!