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Adult Classes and Field Trips

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER | JANUARY | FEBRUARY 

ANS offers walks and classes on the wild side throughout the area.  Check out a map of our field trip destinations. 

Explore the Great Outdoors with the Experts!

These programs offer nature novices and experienced naturalists alike an array of opportunities to explore and learn about our area’s natural history. All programs are led by experienced naturalists. Lectures are held at Woodend Sanctuary. Field trips are reached by private vehicle or carpool.

Questions? Email Senior Naturalist Stephanie Mason or call Stephanie at 301-652-9188 x37. For registration information, email Pam Oves or call Pam at 301-652-9188 x16. To register for a program, please mail or fax the registration form or register online.

ONLINE REGISTRATION FOR ADULT PROGRAMS

registeronline

 

 

  • Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers recommended for this service.
  • All adult program participants will be "New Users" the first time they register.
  • All changes/cancellations/transfers must be handled through the EE office.
  • Have a credit postcard? Call Pam at 301-652-9188 x 16 to hear options.
  • Questions? Call Pam at 301-652-9188 x16 or email pam.oves@anshome.org

May I bring along children on ANS adult field trips?

janice browne_adultprograms

Cancellation Policy

To qualify for a credit if you cancel a program, you must give at least six business days' notice, i.e. you can't cancel on a Monday for a weekend program and still receive a credit. Call 301-652-9188 x 16 or email Pam Oves to cancel.

If ANS cancels a program due to low enrollment, you will receive a full refund. If a weather-related concern or another issue outside of ANS's control forces a cancellation, you will receive a full credit to your credit.

Upcoming Classes / Field Trips 
  

September

CardinalFlowerLate Summer Wings and Wildflowers FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Sunday, September 6 (8 am-noon)
Leader:  Stephanie Mason
Members $24; nonmembers $34
A park in upper Montgomery County, the Lois Green Conservation Area offers open meadows, pond and stream, and forested edges as an ideal spot for broad-based nature exploration. We’ll look for butterflies and other insects, migrant and resident birds, and other wildlife against the backdrop of late summer, sun-loving wildflowers and fruiting trees. We’ll walk several miles on natural trails with some uphill/downhill and a few short stretches of bushwhacking in tall vegetation, all at a leisurely pace.

Evening on the Canal
Friday, September 11 (6:45-8:45 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
Join senior naturalist Stephanie Mason on a walk through the woods and along the Potomac River’s C&O Canal beginning at Swain’s Lock near Potomac, MD. As day gives way to dusk — and then to nightfall — we’ll look and listen for owls, foxes, bats, katydids, moths, and other nocturnal and crepuscular animals, discussing the adaptations of creatures whose “day” begins as ours ends.

Fall Birding Series
A: Saturday, September 12: Governor’s Bridge Natural Area, MD(Mark England) (7-10 am)
B. Sunday, September 20: Wheaton Regional Park, MD (Mike Bowen) (7-10 am) FULL
C: Saturday, October 3: Huntley Meadows, VA (Mark England) (7:30-10:30 am)
D: Saturday, October 10: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, DC (John Bjerke) (7:30-10:30 am)  
E: Sunday, October 18: Sycamore Landing, MD (John Bjerke) (8-11 am) FULL
F: Saturday, October 31: Occoquan Bay NWR, VA (Mike Bowen) (8-11 am) FULL
G: Sunday, November 8: Hughes Hollow, MD (John Bjerke) (8-11 am)
Each walk members $24; nonmembers $34
Entire Series: $134/$201
Our fall birding series visits seven protected areas, all under an hour’s drive from D.C., where a variety of habitats — including field, forest, and wetland — provide good opportunities for the observation and identification of birds in autumn. On the earliest walks, we’ll hope to catch some southbound migrants. As the season progresses, we’ll watch for sparrows, raptors, waterfowl, and other birds. These teaching walks are aimed at beginning to mid-level birders, but all are welcome. Most of our explorations will be on natural surface trails that may be uneven or muddy. Walks A & include some mild uphill and downhill. 

ZebraSpiderSpiders 101
Saturday, September 12 (1-4:30 pm)
Leader: Cathy Stragar
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Spiders are ubiquitous creatures in our basements, meadows, and woodlots. While they inspire feelings of fear among many, they are a source of wonderment and mystery to the nature enthusiast. Join a naturalist for an introduction to the natural history and identification of spiders. On our field trip to McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, near Poolesville, MD, we’ll search for spiders in a variety of habitats and discuss their life histories, feeding strategies, and adaptations. 

Geology of Riverbend Park
Sunday, September 13 (1-5 pm)
Leader: Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Upstream from Great Falls, VA,  the less-frequented Riverbend Park offers scenic trails across Piedmont uplands and Potomac River bottomlands. The bedrock is schist of the Mather Gorge Formation, with some metagraywacke. We will hike a four-mile loop over level to rolling terrain, with a few rocky stretches and a good possibility of riverside mud. Trails will be easy to moderate, but with occasional steep slopes due to the 100-foot elevation difference between upland and floodplain. As we tour through the park, we will make numerous stops to discuss geological points of interest. Note: on our geology field trips, we move farther and faster than our usual naturalist’s shuffle.

ImmatureBroadWingedHawkFall Flight at Cromwell Valley Park
Sunday, September 13 (3/4 day field trip)
Leaders:  Hal Wierenga and Lynn Davidson
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Bring along a folding chair and cross your fingers for a good day of raptor flight at this hawk watch in Baltimore County, just outside the northern side of the Baltimore Beltway. Our trip is scheduled close to peak for the southward passage of Broad-wing Hawks in massive numbers. Of course, we can’t control weather conditions or migratory pulses, but our leaders will do their best to give you a productive day of birding. That will include exploring some of Cromwell Valley Park’s trails for fall migrant songbirds, and perhaps even heading out to other close-by locations in the afternoon if the hawk flight is slow.

Midweek Meanders Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
A: September 16 - Riley’s Lock FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
B: September 30 - Carderock FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
C: October 14 - Violettes Lock FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
D: October 28 - Pennyfield Lock FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
E: November 4  - Widewater FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
F: November 18 - Great Falls FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $96/$134
Enjoy one or all of these leisurely autumn walks along portions of the C&O Canal that enjoy less traffic than the towpath stretches close to Washington. The focus of our walks, each beginning from a different location, will be general natural history of the varied habitats along the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. We’ll proceed at a “naturalist’s shuffle” pace, stopping often to observe birds, fall wildflowers and foliage, butterflies, snakes, turtles — and whatever else we might find. Participants interested in carpooling will meet at Woodend.

220px-Big brown batBat Chat
Thursday, September 17 (7:30-9 pm)
Leader:  Fred Seitz
Free, but registration required.
Come and explore the natural history and conservation concerns of the bats of our region with this program at our Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, MD. We will learn about the habits and habitats of these fascinating mammals through a slide lecture. We’ll also head out onto the sanctuary grounds for a short search for bats in the evening sky. Our leader is a Master Naturalist Volunteer with a particular passion for these flying mammals.

Confusing Composites
Saturday, September 19 (9 am-Noon)
Leader: Sujata Roy
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Most of our area’s late summer and fall-blooming wildflowers belong to the composite (Asteraceae) plant family.  With many local species of asters, goldenrods, sunflowers, bonesets and more, it can be intimidating even to begin to consider IDing them.  In this introductory field class, our leader will use both meadow and woodland at Little Bennett Park in Montgomery County, MD to explain the differences between the main groups of “confusing composites”, while offering tips on how to begin identifying them.

BuckeyeButterflyFall Butterflies of the Southern Patuxent
Saturday, September 19 (9:30 am-4 pm)
Leaders:  Dick Smith and Stephanie Mason
Members:  $30; nonmembers $42
While Monarch butterflies are heading south, many southern species are still expanding their range northward.  Butterfly expert Dick Smith and our Senior Naturalist will lead this search for butterflies on the move—Sleepy Orange, Buckeye, Cloudless Sulphur, Ocola Skipper—to name a few, as well as late-season resident species.  We’ll split our day between Jug Bay Natural Area, along the Patuxent River in Prince Georges County, and the Glendenning Preserve section of Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, situated across the river in Anne Arundel County.

Happy Birthday, Rock Creek Park
Wednesday, September 23 (10 am-2 pm)
Leader:  Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Members $26; nonmembers $36
Come celebrate the Fall Equinox, the 125th Anniversary of Rock Creek Park AND the 80th birthday of Boundary Bridge on this hike along a scenic stretch of Rock Creek.  Our leader for this nature exploration is Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of the award-winning   A Year in Rock Creek Park—the Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC.  We’ll enjoy the Park’s rich plant community and watch for maturing fall fruits, late summer and fall wildflowers, and perhaps some early color. We’ll keep our ears open for bird life and our eyes open for butterflies and any other wildlife activity. Our 2.5 mile hike will be on natural surface trails with moderate uphill and downhill walking.

October

Window into the World of Fungi
Thursday, October 1 (7-9:30 pm) 
Leader: Tovi Lehmann
Free, but registration required.
Rooted, yet not plants, heterotrophs, but not animals (growing in fairy rings, yet not even fairies), fungi are members of another kingdom. Mostly hidden under the surface, fungi have evolved their own solutions to life’s persistent problems. Gaining the recognition for their pivotal role in shaping the living world, they now reshape fundamental perceptions of biologists. In this lecture at our Woodend Sanctuary, we will explore the natural history and ecology of our local fungal neighbors, rather than focus on the edibility of particular species of mushrooms. 

240px-maidenhair fern

Fall Fern Hike at Turkey Run Park
Saturday, October 3 (9 am-2 pm)
Leader:  Cris Fleming
Members $26; nonmembers $36
At least 25 species of ferns occur along the Potomac River at Turkey Run Park in Virginia, off the GW Parkway.  On our field trip, we’ll introduce fern terminology and useful techniques to aid in identification of different species.  We’ll amble along the River where participants will practice using a simple key to identify many of the Park’s ferns.  Our “open classroom” is on mostly flat terrain along the River shore, but the hike does include a fairly steep downhill and uphill stretch.  There are also two rocky stream crossings—but there will be plenty of hands to help navigate these.

Natural Heritage Hike: American Chestnut Land Trust
Sunday, October 4 (full-day field trip)
Leaders: Stephanie Mason and Cathy Stragar
Members $34; nonmembers $46
A little over an hour’s drive from the Capital area, the American Chestnut Land Trust in Calvert County, MD preserves 3,000 acres in the most pristine watershed on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. That watershed—Parkers Creek—contains some of the largest unbroken woodlands left in this coastal plain county. We’ll hike between 4 to 5 miles of trails as we explore this rich area, keeping our eyes and ears open for wildlife activity and identifying plants along the way. There will be some uphill and downhill on this moderate hike.

 

PeregrineFalconOn the Move at Cape May  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Monday, October 5 (9 am) to Tuesday, October 6 (4 pm)
Leader  Mark Garland
Members $100; nonmembers $140
Cape May, at New Jersey’s southern tip, is known around the world as a great concentration point for southbound migrants. Staggering numbers of birds pass through Cape May when the winds come from the northwest after an autumn cold front. A great mix of habitats means there’s always lots to see here, even when the winds don’t bring the big migratory push. Early October is a great time for migrating falcons, accipiters, warblers, and monarch butterflies. We plan to visit Cape May Point State Park, the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, and other natural areas around Cape May. Overnight options include a variety of motels, hotels, B&Bs, and campgrounds in or near Cape May.

 

Fall Flora along the C&O Canal
Fridays (10 am-12:30 pm)
Section  A: October 9 - Carderock
Section  B: November  6 - Violettes Lock
Leaders:  Marney Bruce and Liz Jones
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28; both walks members $36; nonmembers $50
On these leisurely walks along the Potomac River’s C&O Canal, we’ll enjoy the area’s rich diversity of plant life during this season of lingering blooms, developing fruits, and changing color.  Trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns will be IDed and studied in their different aspects.  These walks are aimed at beginning to mid-level plant enthusiasts, but all are welcome. 

 

Eastern Black WalnutIntroduction to Tree Identification

Friday, October 16 (10 am-3 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Fall is a great time to learn to identify our local trees and shrubs. With brilliant leaves highlighting the twigs, new buds already formed, and many fruits hanging on, there are lots of distinguishing features that help sort out the various species. This all-day program at our Woodend Sanctuary will begin indoors with a look at some techniques of tree identification, coupled with practice using a simple key. We’ll then move outdoors to use our new skills to identify many of the trees growing on the grounds. Both beginners and those who want to brush up on their ID skills are welcome.

Fall Fungus Walk
Saturday, October 17 (9 am-12:30 pm)
Leader: Tovi Lehmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Fall is a great time to get introduced to the most common families of fungi in our area and find out more about their natural history and many ecological functions.  We’ll visit Brookside Park in Montgomery County, where the natural surface trails will include some uphill and downhill walking. Note: the focus of our field trip is fungi’s important and under-appreciated role in forest ecology, not the edibility of particular species of mushrooms.

 

Native Plant Gardening for Homeowners
Fall Walk: Wednesday, October 21 (10 am-Noon)
Leader: Stephanie Mas
M
embers $20; nonmembers $28
Explore the Blair Native Plant Garden, located just outside the Sanctuary Shop, with our Senior Naturalist who helped develop the garden and its educational focus. Find out more about the values of gardening with native plant species, including: lower maintenance; more value to native birds, butterflies and other insects, including pollinators; reduced negative impact on local ecosystems, and more. We'll discuss native alternatives to popular non-native species such as English ivy, as well as resources for broadening one's knowledge and understanding of plants natives to the mid-Atlantic. You're welcome to bring along a bag lunch to eat with the leader after the walks, which are scheduled to highlight seasonal aspects of the Garden.

 

GallOnMapleLeagNatural History of Galls

Saturday, October 24 (10 am-Noon)

Leader: Cliff Fairweather

Members $20; nonmembers $28

Naturalist Edwin Way Teale called galls edible homes and that’s not a bad two-word definition for these hijacked bits of plant tissue. Discover the fascinating, often complex, and occasionally bizarre world of galls, gall-makers, and their associates. Through a lecture and field exploration at our Woodend Sanctuary, we’ll learn about their natural history and develop our gall search-image.

 

Geology of Glendening Nature Preserve

Saturday, October 24 (1-4 pm)

Leader: Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34

Coastal Plain geology can be frustratingly subtle, but some of its features are revealed by a walk through the Glendening Preserve near Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Anne Arundel County.  Easily observed changes in drainage and plant communities will help us deduce the nature of the underlying sedimentary layers. Within the preserve’s upland, a few hundred yards separate semi-arid from well-watered environments, leading to surprising ecological juxtapositions. Fossils exposed during the Ice Age by the Patuxent River attest to the marine origin of the dry ground, while a boardwalk into Galloway Marsh offers views of the ongoing filling of a modern estuary. Our 2-mile walk will be across level, sandy ground, with possible muddy patches.  (Note: our pace on this walk will be faster than our usual naturalist’s shuffle.)

Fall on Wheels Along the Patuxent
Saturday, October 24 (9 am-1:30 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Dust off your bike and join us to explore the woods and wetlands along the Patuxent River in Prince George’s County, MD. We’ll use the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Tour roadway, closed to cars on this day, to visit a variety of habitats in our search for fall activity in the natural world. We’ll dismount often to look for fall blooms and foliage plus all manner of wildlife, as we cover the Tour’s reach from Patuxent River Park to Merkle Wildlife Refuge. Our round-trip ride will be between 5-8 miles. Bring your own bike.

 

Walk Among the Giants
D: Sunday, October 25 (8-11:30 am)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
M
embers $24; nonmembers $34
Walk among the giant Sycamores, Oaks, and River Birches on this new seasonal series of explorations along the Potomac River just upstream of Great Falls, MD. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for all manner of wildlife, and watch the winter woods turn green, and then summer sultry before fall colors herald the coming of another winter. Our floodplain trail, connecting with the Towpath, is mostly level, but could be muddy as we walk our loop of roughly 2.5 miles.

 

MapleTreeInFallFall Tree ID for Birders FULL- REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE

Sunday, October 25 (2-4 pm)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Free, but registration required.

With trees ablaze in fall colors and their fruits hanging high, we’ll learn the identifying characteristics visible through binoculars of the most common species of trees and shrubs along the C&O Canal towpath upstream of Carderock.

November

Botanical Gems in Montgomery County: Travilah Barrens  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE 
Sunday, November 1 (10 am-2 pm)
Leader : Carole Bergmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Visit the Travilah Serpentine Barrens in Montgomery County under the guidance of the county’s forest ecologist. With dry, shallow soils and high levels of certain minerals, the somewhat-stunted vegetation is dominated by oaks, pines, and grassy glades, which support many rare and uncommon species. Differing from the prairie-like serpentine barrens at Soldier’s Delight near Baltimore, the Travilah site is Maryland’s largest, best remaining example of an old-age, forested serpentinite community. Limited to 12 participants.

AmericanRobinLate Fall at Cape May FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE

Saturday, November 7 (8 am) - Sunday, November 8 (5 pm)
Leader:  Mark Garland
Members $100; nonmembers $140

Cape May is one of the premier spots in North America to see concentrations of southbound birds during the fall migration. Late fall typically brings the year’s largest concentrations of coastal waterbirds, including scoters, cormorants, and gannets, along with temperate songbird migrants -- those species whose migrations stop before reaching the tropics. When the weather conditions are right in late fall, there can be many thousands of sparrows, blackbirds, American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, Gray Catbirds, kinglets, and others. This is also a time when rare birds show up in Cape May. Owls are migrating too, and we’ll have a chance to visit researchers working at night to band owls. There may even be late-season butterflies, wildflowers, and frogs to see as well.

 

A Year at Boundary Bridge
Saturdays (9 am-2 pm)
Section D: November 7
Leader: Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Each walk members $30; nonmembers $42
Join the author of A Year in Rock Creek Park—the Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC for our 9th year of hikes in one of D.C.’s most beautiful wild areas. Celebrating the park’s 125th birthday, we’ll start at Boundary Bridge and follow the same 2.5 mile loop trail each season, admiring and IDing the rich plant life along a scenic stretch of Rock Creek. We’ll also see and hear many species of birds, butterflies, and amphibians. On our winter walk, an ideal time to admire the Park’s topography, we’ll look and listen for winter flocks and identify many species of woody plants. In April, we’ll witness the spring magic of Rock Creek’s myriad wildflowers. As summer arrives in the Park, we’ll hope for a glimpse of a kingfisher as we look for ferns and early seasonal wildflowers such as enchanter’s nightshade. Autumn is glorious in Rock Creek Park, and we’ll conclude our series with a walk through colorful oaks, maples, and ashes, searching for the flowers of an early witch hazel in bloom. Our hike will be on trails with moderate uphill and downhill walking. An ANS/Rock Creek Conservancy Partnership.

 

Fall Hike on Sugarloaf Mountain

Wednesday, November 11 (10 am-3 pm)

Leaders: Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Tina Thieme Brown
Members $30; Nonmembers $42

The author and the illustrator of two books on Sugarloaf Mountain team up once again for a seasonal nature hike on our local monadnock. We’ll explore the preserve’s botany, wildlife, geology, and history while covering 2-2.5 miles. We’ll search for late-season wildflowers and the maturing fruits of oaks, hickories, black birch and other woody plants. Fall color should be lingering, and witch hazel just coming into bloom. Our ears will be open for the sounds of wildlife, including Ravens, Eastern Towhees, and active Chipmunks.  During lunch, Tina will offer pointers on drawing in the field. Our hike includes uphill/downhill walking over rocky trails  and a fairly steep ¼ mile hike up to the summit—all at a leisurely pace.

Preparing for Winter at Carderock
Sunday, November 15 (9:30 am-1:30 pm)
Leaders:  Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Elizabeth Rives
Members $24; nonmembers $34
In March, woody plant instructors Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Elizabeth Rives led our Budbreak at Carderock foray. In this hike, they’ll return to Carderock and the Billy Goat (B) Trail along the Potomac River to explore the woodlands as trees and shrubs let go of their last fall leaves, and reveal their mature fruits and next year’s buds in prep for winter dormancy. We’ll examine and compare the fruits of many species, including hornbeam, hophornbeam, oaks, hickories, black walnut, American beech, sycamore, bladdernut, spice-bush and other woody plants. We’ll get a jump on winter botany by looking closely at twigs, buds, and bark, using Elizabeth’s TSI (tree scene investigation) techniques. Our hike will cover 1.5-2 miles of the towpath and parts of Billy Goat B, mostly at a leisurely naturalist’s crawl. Some stretches, however, will be rocky, moderately steep, and possibly muddy. 

Bird ID Series: Sparrows and Finches
Thursday, November 19 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, November 21 (half-day field trip)
Leader: Mike Bowen
Members $42; nonmembers $58
Lecture only: members $20; nonmembers $28
Sparrows and finches offer beginning and intermediate birders some of their most difficult ID challenges. On Thursday evening, our leader will use an illustrated lecture to provide identification help on these often confusing species. Our field trip will take us to one or more nearby natural areas where a variety of these birds can be studied. 

Tall Ships and Dinosaurs Geology Hike
Saturday, November 21 (1-5 pm)
Leader: Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Due to a paucity of rocks, we tend to avoid the Coastal Plain for our Geology forays. Nevertheless, many interesting, non-rocky sites lie close at hand. We’ll visit three of them on a 40-mile auto circuit through northwestern PrinceGeorgesCounty. Our starting point: Bladensburg Waterfront Park, where we will consider how a deep-water port prominent in the War of 1812 has so completely faded from commerce. Next we’ll travel to Watkins Regional Park to examine the Atlantic’s sandy floor of 60 million years ago. If we’re lucky, we may find a trail-side shark’s tooth or oyster shell. Our last stop visits Dinosaur Park, near Laurel, where paleontologists have unearthed the 110-million-year old bones of several kinds of dinosaurs and mammals, as well as fossils of trees and early flowering plants. We’ll return to Bladensburg to complete the loop. Our walking over paved or gravelly paths will be in generally flat terrain. 

Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, November 22 (full-day field trip)
Leaders Hal Wierenga and Lynn Davidson
Members $34; nonmembers $46
Late fall signals the arrival of thousands of ducks and geese in the mid-Atlantic region. Join us on a visit to Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge, near Chestertown, MD, to search for waterfowl in the wetland habitats of this island, situated near the mouth of the ChesterRiver and the Chesapeake Bay. Eastern Neck NWR has been designated a Globally Important Bird Area for Tundra Swans. More than 2,000 swans spend the early part of winter at the refuge before moving farther south to wintering grounds in North Carolina. Others stay at the refuge throughout the winter, along with an estimated 35,000 waterfowl of other species. In addition to our search for migrant waterfowl, we’ll look for raptors, sparrows, and other seasonal birds.

December

BuffleheadWinter Birding at Black Hill
Section A: Saturday, December 5 (8:30-11 am)
Section B: Sunday, January 10 (8:30-11 am)
Section C: Saturday, February 6 (8:30-11 am)
Section D: Sunday, March 6 (8:30-11 am)
Leader:  Mark England

 

Each walk: members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $72/$104
The winter months can be an ideal time to learn more about birds and birding, and Black Hill Regional Park, in upper Montgomery County, is an ideal outdoor classroom for this study. Each walk in our series, intended for beginning to mid-level birders, will visit one or more sites in the Park in a search for waterfowl, sparrows, raptors, and other both resident and overwintering species. The Park’s habitats are varied and include wetlands and Little Seneca Lake, as well as forest and field. Join us for the entire series and observe the seasonal changes in numbers and species, or just sign up for individual walks. 

Geology of Huntley Meadows
Sunday, December 6 (1-4pm)
Leader: Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Huntley Meadows is a large nature preserve located in Fairfax County not far from Mount Vernon. The preserve is situated in Hybla Valley, a wide swath of flat, low-lying land that was carved by an ancient meander of the Potomac. Huntley Meadows is an excellent site for examining the geologic materials and processes that built our Atlantic Coastal Plain. We will start at an overlook with a view across the whole of Hybla Valley and then drive around the preserve to its headquarters. From the main parking area, we will walk a two-mile loop on easy trails that include a lengthy section of boardwalk across open and sunny marshland. 

Birding Hotspots in Loudoun County
Sunday, December 6 (8 am-4 pm)
Leaders: Joe Coleman and Laura McGranaghan
Members (ANS & LWC) $34; nonmembers $46
Join two of Loudoun County’s top birders on a daylong search for sparrows, hawks, waterfowl, and other seasonal birds at some of this County’s richest birding destinations. The group will meet at in Leesburg, then move on to several locations before ending the day in the Lucketts area. Possible locations, depending on what species have been recently sighted, include: Beaverdam Reservoir, Banshee Reeks, the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, and the Dulles Wetlands. All levels of birders are welcome. Co-sponsored with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC). 

Winter Weeds
Friday, December 11 (12:30-3 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members: $20; nonmembers $28
Not all herbaceous plants disappear in the winter. Many persist as dried stalks and seed clusters, with a beauty to match the season. Join ANS Senior Naturalist Stephanie Mason for an indoor/outdoor introduction to winter weed and wildflower identification at our Woodend Sanctuary. We’ll also investigate seed dispersal strategies and examine plant skeletons for signs of summer insect activity, such as insect galls, chrysalids, cocoons, and egg cases.

January 

redfoxinsnowWinter Hikes Along the Potomac River
A: Saturday, January 2 (full day hike) - Monocacy Aqueduct to Point of Rocks, MD (5.6 mi)
B: Sunday, February 28 (10 am-2 pm) - Riverbend Park to Great Falls Park, VA (3.8 mi round trip)
Leaders: Stephanie Mason and Cathy Stragar

Hike A: Members $34; nonmembers $46
Hikes B: Members $24; nonmembers $34
Take on two of your New Year’s resolutions at once: spend more time outdoors exploring nature AND get more exercise by signing up for our hikes along the scenic Potomac River. We’ll search for overwintering birds and other winter-active wildlife, while practicing our winter botany skills. Hike A follows the flat C&OCanal towpath. Hike B, which is round trip, uses the Potomac Heritage Trail with a very minimal amount of rocky terrain. All trails could be muddy. Hikes could be modified depending on weather and ground conditions. 

Introduction to the Winter Night Sky
Thursday, January 7 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Leader: Richard Orr
Members $20; nonmembers $28
Can you spot Orion the hunter rising up just over the treetops? This alone is a sure sign that winter has come once again to the northern hemisphere. Being able to read the sky in winter can give you a unique sense of cosmological wonder since most of the brighter stars are, in fact, winter stars. While our leader is best-known for his expertise in dragonflies, he’ll share his equally strong knowledge of astronomy in an indoor/outdoor presentation at our Woodend Sanctuary. We’ll be introduced to sky guideposts and the dozen or so “winter” constellations, before bundling up to head outside to look for some of these wondrous celestial sights through a telescope. 

Winter Walks Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
Section A: January 13 - Carderock
Section B: January 27 - Widewater
Section C: February 17 - Swain’s Lock
Section D: March 2 - Great Falls
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Each walk: members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $72/$100
Join our Senior Naturalist for one or all of these walks along the C&O Canal as we look for over-wintering birds and other wildlife, practice winter botany skills, and enjoy the expansive views along the Potomac River that this season provides. Carpooling will be available from Woodend. 

Natural History of Owls
Thursday, January 14 (7-9:30 pm)
Leader: Paul Engman
Free, but registration required.
Local owl populations swell during the winter as resident species are joined by northern migrants. Looking for owls and understanding their specialized adaptations is an exciting winter activity. This illustrated slide lecture at our Woodend Sanctuary will cover field identification techniques, basic adaptations and natural history of owls, as well as tips on where and how to find owls in the field. 

Winter Waterfowl Prowl in Northern Virginia
Saturday, January 16 (8 am-12:30 pm)
Leader: Mike Bowen
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Early in the year is the best time to search for and learn to ID overwintering waterfowl in our area. Basing our search in wetlands and waterways near Alexandria, VA, we’ll visit Roach’s run near National Airport, before heading down and along the Potomac River to the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. Our final destination is nearby Huntley Meadows Park, where a large, protected tract of forest and marsh sits amidst residential and commercial neighborhoods. Our focus will be waterfowl, but we’ll keep an eye open for all birdlife. 

Introduction to the Natural History of Lichens
Thursday, January 21 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, January 23 (10 am-2 pm)
Leader: Dr. Paula DePriest
Members $42; nonmembers $58
Lecture only: members $20; nonmembers $28
Winter is the perfect season to search for the varied hues and forms of lichens, the fascinating and mysterious inhabitants of unpolluted ecosystems. On Thursday night, Dr. Paula DePriest of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, will introduce us to the natural history of lichens through an illustrated lecture. Saturday’s field trip to the Widewater area along the C&O Canal will give participants a chance to study and identify lichens in their natural environment. 

Winter Tree ID for Birders
Saturday, January 23 (2-4 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Free, but registration required.
We’re reprising this popular field trip to help birders learn to recognize the field marks of many common trees through their binoculars. The outdoor classroom will be Scott’s Run Nature Preserve near McLean, VA, where we’ll ID trees in their winter aspect, all the while keeping our eyes and ears open for birds moving amongst them. 

Winter Birding at Oaks Landfill
A: Sunday, January 24 (3-5:30 pm)
B: Sunday, February 14 (3:30-6 pm)
Leader: Mark England
Each walk: Members $20; nonmembers $28
You’ll want to bundle up for these birding treks to the now-closed landfill adjacent to the Blue Mash Nature Trail, a familiar birding spot in upper Montgomery County. As afternoon fades to dusk in the open terrain here, we’ll search for resident and overwintering species, including Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls. Our leader will bring along a scope for distant bird viewing. Our visit to this area which is “closed to the public” is by special permission. 

Comets and Meteors - and their Influence on the Natural History of the Earth
Thursdays (7:30-9:30 pm)
A: January 28
B: February 25
C: March 17
Leader: Marla Moore
Free but registration required for each session.
Explore the science of comets and meteors with retired NASA scientist, Marla Moore. Her first talk will cover facts about comets, and look at the historical perceptions of comet appearances. There will also be a chance to make an icy comet nuclei in class. Our second session will cover meteors, recent and past impact events, and a summary of what meteors are made of and where they come from. Lecture three will look at how comets and meteors have changed the Earth’s environment since its origin. These presentations will be gauged for non-scientists.

February

harlequinduckWinter Birds of the Coast
Saturday, February 20 (9:30 am-5:30 pm)
Leader:  John Bjerke
Members $34; nonmembers $46
Bundle up and enjoy Ocean City, MD, without the crowds while we learn to identify birds that winter in and along the mid-Atlantic coast. Here and at other locations, including Cape Henlopen and Broadkill Marsh, we’ll look for loons, sea ducks, raptors, and winter songbirds. We’ll hope to find, identify, and discuss the natural history of birds, such as the Red-throated Loon, Harlequin Duck, Northern Gannet, and Snow Bunting. This field trip is aimed at beginning and mid-level birders, but all are welcome. Our meeting point is about a 3-hour drive from Woodend.

 

 

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