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Adult Classes and Field Trips

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER | JANUARY | FEBRUARY | MARCH | APRIL | MAY   

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.

NEW - ONLINE REGISTRATION FOR ADULT PROGRAMS - NEW

registeronline

 

 

  • 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 

NOVEMBER

Fall on Wheels Along the Canal SORRY CANCELLED
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.

Fall Birding Series
G: Saturday, November 8: Dyke Marsh, VA  (Mike Bowen) (8-11 am) FULL - Register for waitlist online
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.

Midweek Meanders Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
E: November 12 - Widewater  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Leader  Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
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.

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  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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.

DECEMBER

240px-Little Seneca Lake 2008Winter Birding at Black Hill
Section A: Saturday, December 6 (8:30-11 am) FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Section B: Sunday, January 4 (8:30-11 am) FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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  FULL - Register for waitlist online
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).

JANUARY

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: Sunday, February 8 (9 am-2 pm) - Bull Run Mountain, VA (3-4 mi)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
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 $30; nonmembers $42
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.

Native Plant Gardening for Homeowners 
Winter Walk: Wednesday, January 14 (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.

220px-Northern Hen HarrierWinter Birding at Oaks Landfill  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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.

Night Gliders
Saturday, January 31 (5:30-7 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
In many woodlands they outnumber our common gray squirrel, yet flying squirrels remain mysterious mammals seldom encountered by diurnal creatures, such as ourselves. Join us for a walk to observe their nocturnal activities, followed by a slide discussion of flying squirrels’ natural history. The program will be conducted on our Woodend grounds where staff have hung flying squirrel nesting boxes, as well as a feeding platform.

FEBRUARY

Introduction to the Natural History of Mammals
Thursday, February 5 (7-9 pm)
Leader: Rob Gibbs
Free, but registration required.
Mammals are abundant in most habitats in our region, but since many are small, secretive, or nocturnal, they are rarely seen. Join a wildlife ecologist as he shares his knowledge of local mammals and broadens your understanding of their role in mid-Atlantic ecosystems.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Saturday, February 7 (9:30-Noon)
Leader: Cliff Fairweather
Members $20; nonmembers $28
Despite the cold temperatures, nature is still out there waiting to be explored. Pull on a coat and join us for this walk at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, VA, where our leader is a staff naturalist. We’ll explore the basics of winter ecology and the many strategies organisms from grasses to grackles to gray tree frogs employ for winter survival.

Dorchester County Waterfront
Sunday, February 15 (full-day field trip)
Leaders: Hal Wierenga and Lynn Davidson
Members $34; nonmembers $46
Here’s another opportunity to wrap yourself in layers, stuff your pockets full of chocolate, and enjoy the richness of winter birding along waterways of the mid-Atlantic. Our two leaders will take you to some of their favorite spots, beginning at the Choptank River in Cambridge, MD and progressing to the Chesapeake Bay off Hooper’s Island, with stops along the way. We’ll look for a variety of birds including gulls, waterfowl, marsh birds, and raptors.

Presidents' Day Hike on the Canal: Widewater to Great Falls Loop
Monday, February 16 (10 am-2:30 pm)
Leader: Cathy Stragar
Members: $24; nonmembers $34
Got the day off? Join us as we hike the Berma Road trail above the Canal from Widewater upriver to Great Falls, where we’ll enjoy views from the islands with boardwalks. We’ll walk back to our cars at Widewater along the C & O Canal towpath for a total of 4 miles. As we pass through floodplain forests and wetlands, we’ll keep our eyes and ears open for winter birds and other active wildlife, while practicing our winter botany skills.

Winter Tree Identification
Saturday, February 21 (10 am-3 pm)
Leader: Cris Fleming
Members $30; nonmembers $42
Using the clues of buds, twigs, bark, and fruit, we’ll practice identifying trees in winter in this 3/4 day workshop at our Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, MD. We’ll begin inside with a look at techniques of winter tree identification, take a lunch break, and then move outside to use our new skills to identify many species of woody plants that grow on the Woodend grounds.

A Year at Boundary Bridge
Saturdays (9 am-2 pm)
Section A: February 28
Section B: April 11
Section C: June 27
Section D: November 7
Leader: Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Each walk members $30; nonmembers $42
Entire series $102/$143
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.

MARCH

Tour the Washington Aqueduct
Saturday, March 7 (8:30-10:30 am)
Leaders: Neal Fitzpatrick & US
Army Corps of Engineers staff
Free, but registration required.
The Washington Aqueduct produces drinking water for approximately 1 million citizens living, working, or visiting the District of Columbia, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church and its service area. Federally owned and operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers since the 1860s, this public water supply agency produces an average of 180 million gallons per day. Our tour will focus on the water treatment process at the Delcarlia facility and conformance with the Safe Drinking Water Act - the federal law that ensures the quality of Americans’ drinking water. Limited to 15.

Woodcock Watch
Saturday, March 7 (5:15-7:15 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
In his Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold described the mating display of the American Woodcock as a “sky dance.” Announcing its presence with nasal “peents”, the male woodcock ascends high in the sky at dusk. To the accompaniment of a constant twittering, it circles, then plummets back to earth in a series of zigzag movements, wings whistling. On this field program to a natural area in upper Montgomery County, we’ll hope to be lucky enough to catch a performance of this seasonal drama.

Late Winter Birding Trek in Prince William County
Sunday, March 8 (8 am-3 pm)
Leader: Paul Pisano
Members $34; nonmembers $46
With winter winding down, we’ll bundle up for one last foray to wetlands and woodlands in Prince William County, VA in search of lingering waterfowl, resident birds, and some of the first returning migrants. We’ll plan to spend the first half of our day at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Woodbridge, VA before heading downriver to our final destination at Leesylvania State Park along the Potomac River.

Beginning Birding
Thursday, March 19 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, March 21 (8 am-2 pm)
Leader: Mark England
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only members $20; nonmembers $28
If you’re curious about birds and bird watching but don’t know where to begin, this class is for you. No experience is required! At our evening lecture, we’ll focus on the selection of field guides, binoculars, and other resources, and we’ll discuss the basic techniques of birding finding and identification. The goal of our field trip, which visits Black Hill and Little Bennett Regional Parks in upper Montgomery County, is to develop the ability to find, study, and identify birds in their natural environment.

Botanical Gems in Montgomery County: Northwest Branch Park
Sunday, March 22 (10 am-1:30 pm)
Leader: Carole Bergmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34
In 1904, after a horseback ride in the stream valley of Northwest Branch, Theodore Roosevelt declared that it was “a beautiful gorge, deep and narrow, with great boulders and even cliffs. Excepting Great Falls, it is the most beautiful place around here.” Much of this area today is preserved as Montgomery County parkland, and it feels surprisingly wild despite the urbanization surrounding it. The county’s forest ecologist will lead this hike of 2.5-3.5 miles, focusing on plant identification and ecology as we search for the earliest signs of Spring. Our trail will be a natural surface path, with some uphill/downhill and some limited rock scrambling.

Budbreak at Carderock
Sunday, March 29 (9:30 am-1:30 pm)
Leaders: Melanie Choukas-Bradley & Elizabeth Rives
Members $24; nonmembers $34
During spring in Washington, all eyes seem to be on the colorful wildflowers and showy migrating birds. But one of the greatest miracles of spring, the bursting buds of native trees and shrubs, is often overlooked. Join Natural History Field Studies woody plant ID teachers Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Elizabeth Rives for a walk devoted to the identification and admiration of native trees and shrubs as their buds break and their leaves and flowers start to emerge! The 2-3 mile hike will mostly follow the C&O canal towpath, but we will venture down to the Potomac River on Section B of the Billy Goat Trail for a portion of the hike. This stretch involves some scrambling over rocks, a few steep sections, and some up and down, but we will move at a slow pace.

Geology at the National Zoo
Sunday, March 29 (10 am-1 pm)
Leader: Joe Marx
Members $24; nonmembers $34
About 480 million years ago, an arc of oceanic volcanoes merged with the growing continent that would eventually become North America. Within the grounds of the National Zoo and nearby Rock Creek Park, metamorphosed seafloor sediments and a large fault zone bear witness to this ancient geologic collision. We will examine a variety of outcrops on a hike of about 2 miles, using a loop of paved trails from the Zoo entrance at Connecticut Avenue to Rock Creek to Klingle Road and then back to our starting point. The walk will be neither rocky nor muddy, but some parts will be rather steep. The pace set on geology field trips is faster than our usual “naturalist’s shuffle.”

APRIL

Spring Saunters Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
Section A: April 1 - Carderock
Section B: April 15 - Widewater
Section C: April 29 - Swain’s Lock
Section D: May 6 - Riley’s Lock
Section E: May 20 - Violettes Lock
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $85/$119
Enjoy one or all of these leisurely walks along portions of the C&O Canal. 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 Canal. We’ll proceed at a slow “naturalist’s shuffle” pace as we watch spring unfold. We’ll stop often to observe birds, wildflowers, butterflies, snakes, turtles, and whatever else we might find. Carpool from Woodend with the leader if you desire.

Urban Watershed Restoration Challenges - the Foundry Branch
Saturday, April 4 (9 am-1 pm)
Leader: Neal Fitzpatrick
Free, but registration required.
The Foundry Branch begins near the Tenley Metro Station and flows south into the Potomac River, just west of Georgetown. We will look at the natural features of the park and discuss long-term stormwater impacts and needed infrastructure rehabilitation. We will walk the watershed from north to south, looking at past problems and imagining the changes needed to restore water quality - a primary objective of the Clean Water Act. Reps of the National Park Service, DC Department of the Environment, and DC water dept. have been invited to join us. Participants can return to Tenley on a Wisconsin Avenue Metrobus or make plans for lunch in Georgetown.

Spring in the Parks
Saturdays (8 am – 12:30 pm)
A: April 4 - Watkins Regional Park, MD
B: April 25 - Mason Neck NWR, VA
C: May 16 - Rock Creek Park, DC
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $24; nonmembers $34
Entire series $65; nonmembers $82
Join our Senior Naturalist for these broad-based nature explorations of close-by parks rich in natural history. We’ll walk between 2-3 miles on natural surface trails, with some uphill and downhill, in a search for spring wildflowers and seasonal wildlife activity, including birds, butterflies, and amphibians. Our first destination visits rich woodland with towering trees near Largo, MD. On our next expedition, we’ll explore bottomland forest near Occoquan, Va. As the pulse of spring change slows down and the woods stand green, we’ll explore the surprisingly wild urban forest of Rock Creek Park in the District.

Introduction to Wildflower ID
Thursday, April 9 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, April 11 (3/4 day field trip)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only members $20; nonmembers $28
In April, spring wildflowers in the Washington area are dazzling! We’ll spend Thursday evening at Woodend discussing books, equipment, and terminology for beginning wildflower identification. On Saturday we’ll travel to the Carderock area along the C&O Canal and explore several short trails between the Canal and the Potomac River. We’ll practice using keys to identify wildflowers and look for Virginia bluebells, dutchman’s breeches, twinleaf, toad trillium, and many other species. Expect some rocky, uneven terrain on the field trip.

Spring Wildflowers of the Potomac River Gorge
Fridays (10 am-12:30 pm)
Walk A: April 10 - Carderock, MD
Walk B: April 17 - Turkey Run Park, VA
Walk C: April 24 - Great Falls, MD
Leader: Cris Fleming
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $54/$76
The display of spring wildflowers in the Washington area is especially rich in the varied habitats along the Potomac River Gorge. From Virginia bluebells blanketing the bottomlands to the rare Coville’s phacelia on the slopes and wild columbine on rock outcrops, different parks of the Gorge present a grand show. Join us for one or more of these visits to three nearby natural areas to find and identify local wildflowers and to observe the seasonal progression of blooms. Our explorations will involve some steep, uneven, rocky, and/or muddy terrain, and a rocky stream crossing at Turkey Run, but we will proceed at a slow pace.  

Geology of Harpers Ferry
Saturday, April 11 (10 am-3 pm)
Leader: Joe Marx
Members $30; nonmembers $42
The town of Harpers Ferry sits astride the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, in the shadow of a spectacular water gap. The combined streams slice through the Blue Ridge, exposing ancient rocks that formed from coastal plain deposits along the edge of an earlier, smaller version of North America. We will walk 5-6 miles along the towpath of the C&O Canal, upstream from the railroad bridge and back. Occasionally, we’ll stop to look at local stones incorporated into the canal wall or step down to the river and examine rock exposures kept fresh by the flowing water. The pace set and distance covered on these geology trips is typically faster and farther than our usual “naturalist’s shuffle.”

Introduction to the Geology of the Mid-Atlantic
Thursday, April 16 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Leader: Joe Marx
Free, but registration required.
Join Joe Marx, Natural History Field Studies Geology teacher and ANS field trip leader, for a rockin’ lecture at our Woodend Sanctuary. From uplift to continental drift, from the Coastal Plain to the Alleghany Plateau, Joe will be our tour leader for the long (think millions of years) trip through the geologic events that shaped the landscape around us.

Evening on the Canal
Saturday, April 18 (6:45-8:45 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
Early spring evenings can be alive with wildlife as you’ll discover on this stroll from Swain’s Lock up the C&O Canal towpath. We’ll watch for wildlife as the sun sets, and as twilight gives way to the darkness of night, we’ll listen for calling frogs and hooting Barred Owls while discussing the adaptations of these and other nocturnal animals.

Spring Early Birds (7-10 am)
A. Saturday, April 18 – Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge, MD (Mike Bowen)
B. Sunday, April 26 – Huntley Meadows, VA (Mark England)
C. Sunday, May 3 – Glover-Archbold Park, DC (John Bjerke)
D. Saturday, May 9 – Riverbend Park, VA
(Mike Bowen)
E. Sunday, May 17 – Pennyfield Lock, MD
(John Bjerke)
Each walk members $24; nonmembers $34
Entire series members $102; nonmembers $145
Immerse yourself in the phenomenon of spring migration with this series of short bird walks at nearby parks. These walks are designed for beginning and intermediate birders for whom the spring migration can sometimes be overwhelming. On each walk we’ll search for songbirds by sight and sound. We’ll discuss the arrival sequence of spring migrants, practice spotting them in the forest, and learn the songs of many species.

Botanical Gems of Montgomery County: Little Bennett Park
Sunday, April 19 (9:30 am-1 pm)
Leader: Carole Bergmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34
At 3,700 acres, Little Bennett Regional Park near Clarksburg, MD, is the park in Montgomery County where you can still get lost. Its richness in plant diversity is due to its many habitats, including mature forest, shrub thicket, meadow, stream valley, and riparian wetlands. Our spring hike with the county’s forest ecologist will cross a wet meadow, head up the Allegheny Mound Builder (ants) Trail, explore an oak-hickory woods, and visit other areas. Expect some uphill and downhill on our 3-4 mile hike.

Spring Butterflies of Unique Southern Maryland Habitats
Sunday, April 19 (full-day field trip)
Leaders: Dick Smith and Stephanie Mason
Members $34; nonmembers $46
The sandy, acidic woodlands of coastal plain habitats in Calvert and Anne Arundel Counties of Maryland support a variety of spring butterflies which are infrequently encountered in the close-in, metro area. Under the guidance of butterfly expert Dick Smith and our Senior Naturalist, participants will spend the day searching holly and pine forests, as well as sand barrens, for Henry’s, Brown, and Pine Elfins; Juniper and Red-banded Hairstreaks; American Coppers; Holly Azures; and Falcate Orangetips, as well as more familiar species. Areas visited will include Calvert Cliffs State Park and Glendening Nature Preserve.  

River Herring Return to Rock Creek
Saturday, April 25 (9 am-1 pm)
Leaders: Neal Fitzpatrick and Bill Yeaman
Free, but registration required.
Tom Horton describes the annual Rock Creek migration of herring in Bay Country: “No finer parade, or one more unappreciated, ever swung through this capital than the quicksilver legions of Alosa pseudoharengus, the common river herring.” On our four-hour walk, we hope to view the spawning run and discuss opportunities for restoring fish migration to Rock Creek. We will visit the fish ladder construction site at Peirce Mill. Meet at the Cleveland Park Metro Station and end at the Woodley Park/National Zoo/Adams Morgan Station. 18th annual walk!

MAY

The Secret Lives of Spring Wildflowers
Saturday, May 2 (9 am-Noon)
Leader: Sujata Roy
Members $24; nonmembers $34
They’re lovely to behold. But their beauty belies the scrappy, survival strategies of our region’s short-lived spring wildflowers. Coping with cold temperatures, they must race to complete their flowering and fruiting cycles before the brief window of spring sunlight gets shut out by the unfolding forest canopy. NHFS Spring Flower instructor Sujata Roy will spill some of their secrets in an exploration along the C&O Canal at Great Falls, MD.

Springtime in West Virginia
Monday, May 4 (8 am) -Tuesday, May 5 (4 pm)
Leader: Mark Garland
Members $110; nonmembers $154
Enjoy early spring all over again by heading upward in elevation to the Appalachian peaks and hollows of West Virginia. On this broad-based nature foray, highlights will include migrant songbirds, spring wildflowers, early season butterflies, and perhaps a salamander or two. We'll take modest hikes of a mile or two in different habitats each morning and afternoon. Our explorations are based in the Canaan Valley area, but depending on the weather we may also visit Dolly Sods, Seneca Rocks, and/or Blackwater Falls. Overnight options range from campgrounds and basic cabins to motels and park lodges. Participants are responsible for their own lodging arrangements.

  

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