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Adult Classes and Field Trips


ANS offers walks and classes on the wild sidethroughout 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 begins in June for programs in August and beyond!
  • Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers recommended for this service.
  • All adult program participants will be "New Users" the fi rst 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. The credit postcard will be mailed to you less a $5 administrative fee and must be included with a registration form to be valid. Call 301-652-9188 x 16 or email Pam Oves to cancel.

If ANS cancels a program, you will receive a full refund.

Upcoming Classes / Field Trips 


220px-Big brown batBat Chat  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Thursday, September 11 (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. Register online.

Saturday, September 13 (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 Pennyfield 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. Register online.

Fall Flight at Cromwell Valley Park
Sunday, September 14 (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. Register online.

240px-maidenhair fernFerns of Gunpowder Falls State Park: Perry Hall Area
Sunday, September 14 (1-5 pm)
Leader  Dwight Johnson
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Here’s a chance to learn (or relearn) to recognize some of our native ferns in the field.  Aimed at beginners and those wanting to refresh their knowledge, this walk will visit an area where an assortment of common—and a few not-so-common—ferns can be IDed using our leader’s key and methodology in a place he knows well. Our walk will cover about 2 miles on a flat, natural surface trail with a few small stream crossings. Register online.

Midweek Meanders Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
A: September 17 - Riley’s Lock FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
C: October 15 - Pennyfield Lock FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
D: October 29 - Violettes Lock FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $85/$119
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. Register online.

Fall Birding Series
B. Saturday, September 20: Glover-Archbold Park, DC  (John Bjerke) (7-10 am)
C: Sunday, October 5: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, DC  (Mike Bowen) (7:30-10:30 am) FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
D: Saturday, October 18: Lois Green Conservation Park, MD (Mark England) (7:30-10:30 am)
E: Sunday, October 26: Occoquan Bay NWR, VA (Mark England) (8-11 am) FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
F: Saturday, November 1: Jug Bay Natural Area, MD (John Bjerke) (8-11 am) FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
G: Saturday, November 8: Dyke Marsh, VA  (Mike Bowen) (8-11 am)
Each walk members $24; nonmembers $34
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 B, D, & F includes some uphill and downhill. Register online.

Sunday, September 21 (9 am-1 pm)
Leader  Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34
The Georgetown section of Washington, DC sits squarely on a mass of ancient granite, surrounded by various other types and ages of rock. Our hike will be about 5 miles long, through wooded parkland and along city streets. The terrain is easy to moderate, with hills being the biggest challenge. During our hike, we will visit the Coastal Plain, three canyons, the Piedmont upland, and a major fault zone. Not bad for a walk around town. (Note: this hike will move at a faster pace than our usual naturalists’ shuffle.) Register online.

Fall Butterflies of the Occoquan Wildlife Refuge 1 spot left
Sunday, September 21 (full-day field trip)
Leaders  Dick Smith and Stephanie Mason
Members $34; nonmembers $46
A former military research station, the 644-acre Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers south of Alexandria, VA. More than 60 butterfly species have been recorded among its wet meadows, expanses of native grasses, and extensive shoreline. We’ll explore a variety of habitats for late-season butterflies, such as Sleepy Orange, Buckeye, Cloudless Sulphur, and Monarch, among others. We’ll walk up to 3 miles in generally open and sunny terrain. Register online.

Natural Heritage Series:  Soldiers Delight
Saturday, September 27 (10 am-2 pm)
Leader  Cris Fleming
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Soldiers Delight is a large serpentine barren in southern Baltimore County that is preserved as a Natural Environment Area by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Only certain plants can survive in the rocky, dry, nutrient-poor soil and many species occurring there are rare in Maryland. Join botanist Cris Fleming to explore this unusual environment. We’ll look for rare species such as sandplain gerardia, fringed gentian, and blazing star, as well as more common plants such as New York aster, purple gerardia, and several species of prairie grasses.We’ll be walking on natural surface trails with some uphill and downhill. Register online.

220px-Falco peregrinusOn the Move at Cape May FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Monday, September 29 (9 am) to
Tuesday, September 30 (4 pm)
Leader  Mark Garland
Members $96; 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. Late September is a peak 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. Register online.


TableMtnPineSugarloaf Mountain Autumn Hike
Saturday, October 4 (10 am-3 pm)
Leaders  Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Tina Thieme Brown
Members $30; nonmembers $42
The author and the illustrator of two books about Sugarloaf Mountain team up once again for a seasonal nature hike up to the summit of our local monadnock. We’ll search for maturing fruits on oaks, hickories, black birch, witch-hazel and many other woody plants, and enjoy the first blush of color in the tupelo trees. Several species of wildflowers in the aster and mint families should be blooming. On or near the mountain summit, we’ll see many plants in the health family, as well as the uncommon table mountain pine. We will hike for 1 ½-2 miles at a slow pace, covering some steep and rocky sections of trail. Tina will give a field drawing demonstration and Melanie will describe the history and geology of Sugarloaf. Register online.

Fall Flora Hike at Gunpowder Falls State Park
Sunday, October 5 (10 am-3:30 pm)
Leader  Dwight Johnson
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Our leader describes the Hereford Area of Gunpowder Falls SP in Central Baltimore County as “the best walk in the Maryland piedmont.” Join him on this 3-mile hike through rich upland and bottomland woods where we’ll make frequent stops to ID and admire trees and shrubs, ferns, fall fruits, and late-blooming wildflowers. The circuit hike will include a couple of steep hills and a rock scramble. Register online.

Introduction to Tree Identification
Friday, October 10 (9 am-3 pm)
Leader  Cris Fleming
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. Register online.

Window into the World of Fungi
Thursday, October 16 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, October 18 (9 am-1 pm)
Leader  Tovi Lehmann
Members $42; nonmembers $58
Lecture only $20/$28
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 workshop, we will explore the natural history and ecology of our local fungal neighbors, rather than focus on the edibility of particular species of mushrooms. Our field trip will visit a close-in natural area chosen by the leader, based on his scouting closer to the program. Register online.

dc blueplainsTour the Blue Plains Plant  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Friday, October 17 (10 am-Noon)
Leader  Neal Fitzpatrick
Free, but registration is required.
Join former ANS Executive Director Neal Fitzpatrick, and staff from D.C. Water for a tour of the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world. This plant has the capacity to treat 370 million gallons of sewage a day; the treated water is discharged into the Potomac River just north of Alexandria, VA Learn about the 20-year capital improvement program worth $7.8 billion at the facility. Limited to 13 participants. Registration deadline: October 2. Register online.

The Natural and Cultural History of the Ag Reserve  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Friday, October 17 (10 am-3:30 pm)
Leaders  Melanie Choukas-Bradley & Stephanie Mason
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Thirty-four years ago, with regional farmland rapidly diminishing, Montgomery County had the foresight to set aside more than 90,000 acres of farms and open space in the western and northern third of the county as an “Agricultural Reserve.” Come explore this scenic, biologically diverse area and learn how it contributes to clean air and water, the availability of fresh local produce, and the overall quality of life for residents of the metro area. Our trip will visit a working CSA farm, a fall produce and pumpkin stand, an historical site, and an artist’s studio, time permitting, to experience the rich diversity of plants and wildlife (and human livelihoods) that thrive in the Reserve’s fields, meadows, wetlands, and rocky woodlands. We’ll begin and end the tour in some of the beautiful parkland along its borders: Seneca Creek State Park and Dickerson Conservation Park, site of an American sycamore, officially the largest known tree in MD. Register online.

Fall Migration at Cape May  FULL
Saturday, October 18 (8 am) to Sunday, October 19 (4 pm)
Leader  Mark Garland
Members $96; nonmembers $140
Cape May is an astounding place to witness autumn migration. Under the right weather conditions, a single day can bring several thousand southbound hawks, tens of thousands of migrating songbirds, and over 100,000 monarch butterflies onto the southern tip of New Jersey. Late October is a peak time for migrating buteos, sparrows, and coastal waterbirds, such as scoters, loons, and cormorants. We’ll visit many of the diverse natural areas around Cape May and celebrate the rich spectacle of migration. Overnight options include motels, B&Bs, and campgrounds in and around Cape May. Register online.

Raptor ID and Natural History
Tuesday, October 21 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, October 25 (full-day field trip)
Leader  Paul Engman
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only $20/$28
Hawks, falcons, eagles, and their allies share similar characteristics, but each has a unique life history. Many are migratory, and fall brings thousands of migrating raptors to the Appalachian ridges and Atlantic coast. Tuesday’s slide lecture focuses on the natural history and identification of eastern raptors. Our field trip goes to one of the premier hawk-watching sites in the area, Waggoner’s Gap in PA, about a 2.5-hour drive from D.C. This rockpile lookout has a reputation for affording hawk watchers a look at less common migrants, such as golden eagles and goshawks. Register online.

Native Plant Gardening for Homeowners
Fall Walk: Wednesday, October 22 (10 am-Noon)
Leader Stephanie Mason
Members $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 value of using native plants, such as: lower maintenance; greater appeal to 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 expanding one’s knowledge and understanding of plants native to the mid-Atlantic. Sign up for the whole series to observe changes in the garden over the season—or pick and choose separate walks. You’re welcome to bring along a bag lunch to eat with the leader after the walk. Register online.

120px-tuliptreeleavesBotanical Gems in Montgomery County: Gold Mine Tract of Great Falls Park  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Saturday, October 25 (9 am-12:30 pm)
Leader  Carole Bergmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Celebrate autumn with a hike through the first forest in Maryland to be inducted into the Old Growth Forest Network. The 528-acre Gold Mine Tract is one of the largest contiguous Piedmont forests in Maryland. While most visitors to the Great Falls area of the C&O Canal NHP head directly to the falls and river, we will hike uphill, away from the Potomac. Following the Gold Mine Loop Trail, the county’s forest ecologist will guide us into a quiet, cathedral-like forest dominated by towering tulip trees and huge old hardwoods. We’ll plan to hike for about 3 miles. Our route will include areas with remarkable scenic overlooks of Bear Island, Olmstead Island, and the Potomac River.  Though the majority of this natural surface hike is over gently rolling territory, there will be some does uphill/downhill. Register online.

A Year at Boundary Bridge
Saturdays (9 am-2 pm)
Section D: October 25
Section A: February 22
Section B: April 5
Section C: June 28
Leader Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Each walk members $30; nonmembers $42
Join the author of City of Trees for our eighth year of hikes in one of Washington, D.C.’s most beautiful wild areas. Starting at Boundary Bridge and following the same 2.5-mile loop trail each season, we’ll explore the large trees, diverse shrubs, and exceptional wildflowers 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. Registration required, please use registration form.

Sunday, October 26 (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. Register online.


Fall on Wheels Along the Canal
Friday, November 7 (9 am-3 pm)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Fall is here and the towpath along the Potomac River is one of the finest places in the D.C.-metro area to experience this season’s richness. In order to cover more territory and visit more habitats, we’ll use bikes to explore the stretch from Swain’s Lock to Riley’s Lock, a 12.3 mile round-trip ride. We’ll dismount often to look for fall fruits and admire lingering fall foliage, while keeping an eye and ear open for fall migrants, overwintering birds, and other still-active wildlife. Bring your own bike.

HornbeamPreparing for Winter at Carderock
Sunday, November 16 (9:30 am-1:30 pm)
Leaders  Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Elizabeth Rives
Members $24; nonmembers $34
In April, 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 will be rocky, moderately steep, and possibly muddy.

Bird ID Series: Waterfowl
Thursday, November 20 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, November 22 (full-day field trip)
Leader  Mike Bowen
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only $20/$28
Late fall signals the arrival of thousands of ducks and geese into the mid-Atlantic region. On Thursday evening, our leader will use an illustrated presentation to cover size, shape, plumages, habitat, and behaviors of the most common species in our area. On our field trip we’ll visit several prime waterfowl areas, which will be chosen closer to the date of the workshop based on the pace of migration. This workshop is aimed at beginning and mid-level birders, but all are welcome.

220px-BlackwaterNWRChesapeake Wetlands
Sunday, November 23 (9:30 am-5:30 pm)
Leaders  Hal Wierenga and Lynn Davidson
Members $34; nonmembers $48
Discover the richness of autumn birding in the wetlands that line the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore with birders who know the area well. We’ll meet at the Blackwater Natural Wildlife Refuge, south of Cambridge, MD, about a 2-hour drive from Washington. After a leisurely visit to Blackwater, we’ll visit other wetlands in Dorchester and Talbot counties searching for migrant waterfowl, raptors, sparrows, and other seasonal birds.


240px-Little Seneca Lake 2008Winter Birding at Black Hill
Section A: Saturday, December 6 (8:30-11 am)
Section B: Sunday, January 4 (8:30-11 am)
Section C: Saturday, February 7 (8:30-11 am)
Section D: Sunday, March 1 (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.

Natural Heritage Series: Peirce Mill to Pulpit Rock
Saturday, December 6 (9 am-12:30 pm)
Leaders  Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Steve Dryden
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Join Steve Dryden (author of “Peirce Mill: Two Hundred Years in the Nation’s Capital”) and Melanie Choukas-Bradley (author of the forthcoming “A Year in Rock Creek Park: the Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC”) for a winter stroll from Peirce Mill to the scenic crest of Pulpit Rock. Learn about the historic mill that has been grinding grain in the nation’s capital since before the Revolutionary War. Our leaders will share some of the history of Rock Creek Park as it prepares to celebrate 125 years as one of America’s first and most beloved federal parks. As we walk to Pulpit Rock at a leisurely pace, Melanie will point out the woody plants along the hillside above Rock Creek and teach some tricks for winter identification. Our distance will be 2-3 miles, on a mix of natural and paved-surface trails. Most of the hike is over relatively flat terrain, but there will be a half mile of relatively-steep woodland trail.

220px-broad winged hawkBirding the Shenandoah Valley
Sunday, December 7 (9 am-4 pm)
Leaders  Joe Coleman and Laura McGranaghan
Members (ANS & LWC) $34; nonmembers $48
Clarke County in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is rich with excellent birding areas. Join two seasoned birders on a daylong search for hawks, sparrows, waterfowl, and other seasonal birds in the northeastern section of the Valley. We’ll meet at the Snicker’s Gap Hawkwatch in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Loudoun/Clarke County border. From here we’ll move along the Shenandoah River, and visit the Virginia State Arboretum and Blandy Farm. We’ll wrap up the day with a return to Snicker’s Gap Hawkwatch to see what’s moving overhead. All levels of birders are welcome, and we will carpool/caravan from our meeting point to the return. Our field trip is cosponsored with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC).


1024px-Owl at NightNew Year’s Moonwalk
Saturday, January 3 (6:30-8:30 pm)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
Cross your fingers for clear skies as we celebrate the New Year with a brisk walk under the light of the year’s first full moon. We’ll head upriver on the C&O Canal towpath from Swain’s Lock, enjoying the shadows of arching sycamore trees and listening for the calls of owls and winter-active mammals. Distance covered will depend on the weather and conditions underfoot.

Winter Walks Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
Section A: January 7 - Carderock
Section B: January 21 - Widewater
Section C: February 4 - Swain’s Lock
Section D: March 11 - 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 8 (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.

1024px-red-throated loonWinter Birds of the Coast
Saturday, January 10 (9:30 am-5:30 pm)
Leader  John Bjerke
Members $34; nonmembers $48
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.

Rocks on the Mall
Sunday, January 11 (1-4 pm)
Leader  Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Many structures that border the National Mall in downtown Washington proudly wear the bedrock of other localities. We will meet at the 7th & Maryland SW entrance to the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station and do a two-mile loop--flat and easy--around the eastern end of the Mall. We will discuss the type, manner of formation and place of origin of the rock in various facades, fountains and walls. Limestone, often with fossils visible, is the most common building stone on the Mall, but we will also see good examples of granite, gneiss, marble and sandstone. To prevent geologic overload, the trip leader will bring a supply of amusing historical anecdotes about the sites we visit. Note: Our geology walks move at a faster pace than our usual “naturalists’ shuffle.”

Winter Hikes in the Mountains
A: Sunday, January 11 (full day hike) - Sugarloaf  Mountain, MD (5.5 mi)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
B: Saturday, February 7 (9 am-1 pm) - Bull Run Mountain, VA (3-4 mi)
Leader  TBA
C: Saturday, March 14 (full day hike) - Shenandoah National Park, VA (5.2 mi)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Hike A or C: Members $34; nonmembers $48
Hike B: Members $24; nonmembers $34
Entire Series $84/$117
Take on two of your New Year’s resolutions at once: spend more time exploring nature AND get more exercise by signing up for our hikes in the nearby mountains of our area. We’ll search for over-wintering birds and other wildlife, while practicing our winter botany skills. Hike A covers our nearest monadnock, where we’ll scale the fairly steep ¼ mile trail to the summit (1,282 feet), then spend the rest of our time hiking the 5-mile loop Blue Trail. On Hike B, we’ll visit Bull Run Mountain in Prince William County and hike to the top of High Point Mountain (1,300 feet), enjoying views of the Virginia Piedmont. On the last hike of our series, we’ll follow the Appalachian Trail in the Central Section of Shenandoah National Park, where we’ll climb 1.5 miles (1200 ft. ascent) to Mary’s Rock (3500 feet).  There we’ll be rewarded with one of the best panoramic views of the Park. We’ll continue climbing up, past the jagged Pinnacles (3750 feet) before our hike ends at the Pinnacles Picnic area. Note: These hikes are designed to offer a natural history experience for persons who want to move farther and faster than the pace of most ANS field trips. We will stop to observe natural phenomena, but will keep a pace necessary to cover the distance stated. All of these hikes should be considered moderately strenuous to strenuous, with both uphill and downhill hiking over rocky and uneven trails.

220px-Northern Hen HarrierWinter Birding at Oaks Landfill
Sunday, January 18 (3-5:30 pm)
Leader  Mark England
Members $20; nonmembers $28
You’ll want to bundle up for this birding trek 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.

Winter Tree ID for Birders
Saturday, January 24 (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.

Walk Among the Giants
A: Saturday, January 24 (9 am-12:30 pm)
B: Sunday, April 12 (8-11:30 am)
C: Saturday, July 25 (7:30-11 am)
D: Sunday, October 25 (8-11:30 am)
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Each walk: members $24; nonmembers $34
Entire series $88/$128
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.

800px-Winter Quantico CreekWinter Woods of Prince William Forest Park
Sunday, January 25 (12:30-4 pm)
Leader  Elizabeth Rives
Members $24; nonmembers $34
With 15,000 acres of forest in various stages of transition, Prince William Forest Park protects the largest Piedmont forest in the National Park Service and the largest green space in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. An arboreal meeting place, the Park features species of trees at their northern- and southern-most limits, as well as representatives from both the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont physiographic provinces. The winter landscape affords visitors an unobstructed view of the rich, diverse ecosystems that exist in the Park, and accentuates many characteristics of woody plants that help with identification in all seasons. On a leisurely 2-3 mile hike over sloping terrain, winter woody plant identification instructor and environmental educator Elizabeth Rives will help participants learn the basics of winter tree identification and relate the vast natural and cultural history of the Park. Plan on a $5 per car entrance fee. Carpooling will be encouraged and facilitated.


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