button donate
logo hh facebook twitter

 GuideStar image

Adult Classes and Field Trips


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.





  • 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 


Tour the Washington Aqueduct  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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.

Saturday, March 7 (6:15-8:15 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.

Winter Walks Along the Canal
Wednesdays (10 am-12:30 pm)
Section D: March 11 - Great Falls FULL
Leader:  Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28
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.

Winter Hikes in the Mountains
C: Saturday, March 14 (full day hike) - Shenandoah National Park, VA (5.2 mi)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $34; nonmembers $48
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.

Winter Birding at Black Hill
Section D: Sunday, March 1 (8:30-11 am) RESCHEDULED TO SUNDAY, MARCH 15
Leader  Mark England
Members $20; nonmembers $28
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.

300px-Binocularp.svgBeginning Birding  FIELD TRIP FULL
Thursday, March 19 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Sunday, March 22 (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.

Late Winter Birding Trek in Prince William County  RESCHEDULED to SUNDAY, MARCH 22
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.

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.

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.

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.”


Canal swains lockSpring 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  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Section D: May 6 - Riley’s Lock
Section E: May 20 - 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 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  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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: Sunday, April 26 - 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.

220px-VirginiaBluebellsIntroduction 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.  

A Year at Boundary Bridge
Saturdays (9 am-2 pm)
Section B: April 11
Section C: June 27
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.

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.”

Walk Among the Giants
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
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.

Introduction to the Geology of the Mid-Atlantic  FULL
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) FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
B. Sunday, April 26 – Huntley Meadows, VA (Mark England)
C. Sunday, May 3 – Glover-Archbold Park, DC (John Bjerke) FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
D. Saturday, May 9 – Riverbend Park, VA
(Mike Bowen)
E. Sunday, May 17 – Pennyfield Lock, MD FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
(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.

800px-Red-banded HairstreakSpring Butterflies of Unique Southern Maryland Habitats  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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.  

Natve Plant Gardening for Homeowners
Spring Walk: Wedneday, April 22 (10 am-Noon)
Summer Walk: Wednesday, July 29 (10 am-Noon)
Fall Walk: Wednsday, October 21 (10 am-Noon)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Each walk 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 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.

River Herring Return to Rock Creek  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
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!


BikingOnCanalSpring on Wheels Along the Potomac
Friday, May 1 (8 am-3 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $34; nonmembers $46
Spring has sprung and the towpath along the Potomac River is one of the finest places in the DC-metro area to experience the 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 spring wildflowers, butterflies and other insects, and reptiles and amphibians, all the while keeping an eye and ear open for spring migrants and other breeding bird activity. Bring your own bike.

Geology of Shenandoah Park North

Saturday, May 2 (10 am-5 pm)
Leader: Joe Marx
Members $34; nonmembers $46

Two crossroads cut Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park into three sections, each 30-40 miles long. Our program will be a car tour of the geology of the northern section, from Front Royal to Thornton Gap. As we travel along Skyline Drive, we’ll stop six or seven times at overlooks and trailheads to examine the outcrops, stonewalls, panoramas, and other features close at hand. Note: at our stops, we will do short hikes which may include uphill and/or downhill hiking over uneven terrain to rock exposures and/or other nearby sites of interest.


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.

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.

Bird ID Series: Spring Warblers

Thursday, May 7 (7-9 pm)
Sunday, May 10 (7 am-1 pm)
Leader: Mike Bowen
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only members $20; nonmembers $28

More than 30 species of warblers pass through the Mid-Atlantic during spring migration -- but finding and properly identifying these active songbirds can be a real challenge. We’ll use slides and recorded warbler songs for the Thursday lecture. On Sunday we’ll start early and visit several spots along the C&O Canal, where we’ll hope to hear and see a wide variety of warblers.


Window into the World of Fungi

Thursday, May 7 (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.


Spring on the Appalachian Trail

Saturday, May 9 (full day hike)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $34; nonmembers $46

One of the best ways to explore the seasonal richness in our region’s along the Appalachian Trail. Our Senior Naturalist leads this search for spring blooms, butterflies, and breeding bird activity amongst the rocky terrain of Maryland’s South Mountain. Beginning at Gathland State Park, the former estate of a Civil War correspondent, we’ll hike to the summit of Lamb’s Knoll before ending the day at Fox Gap. We’ll cover 6 miles on this moderately strenuous uphill/downhill hike on trails that will be rocky and uneven. We’ll stop to observe natural phenomena, but will keep a pace necessary to cover the distance stated.


Appalachian Spring

Sunday, May 10 (8:30 am-3 pm)
Leader: Cathy Stragar
Members $30; nonmembers $42

Spring rains, warming temperatures, and longer hours of daylight ignite a great burst of life in the valleys and ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Thompson Wildlife Management Area in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Linden, VA, a wildlife reserve that is well known for its botanical diversity. Our field trip will focus on the rich wildflower display, as well as spring migrants, butterflies, and other wildlife. We’ll cover around 3 miles at a leisurely pace, but there will be uphill and downhill walking on rocks and uneven trails.


Spring Woods of Prince William Forest Park

Saturday, May 16 (9 am-12:30pm)
Leader: Elizabeth Rives
Members $24; nonmembers $34

With 15,000 acres of forest, Prince William Forest Park protects the largest Piedmont forest in the National Park Service and the largest green space in the DC-metro area. Here plants at their northern-and-southernmost limits meet and overlap, as do species from both Coastal Plain and Piedmont. The leader of our winter visit here returns for a late spring walk to look for seasonal wildflowers, shrubs, and trees. Mountain Laurel should be in bloom along our 2-3 mile hike over sloping terrain on natural surface trails. Bring along a bag lunch to enjoy with the leader after the walk. Note: $5 per car entrance fee. Carpooling will be encouraged and facilitated.


Spring Hike on Sugarloaf Mountain

Sunday, May 17 (10 am-3 pm)
Leaders: Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Tina Thieme Brown
Members $30; nonmembers $42

Join Sugarloaf author Melanie Choukas-Bradley and artist Tina Thieme Brown for an outing devoted to the botany, wildlife, geology, and history of Sugarloaf Mountain, a monadnock in the rural Piedmont northwest of Washington, D.C. The 1.5-2.5 mile hike, with some uphill and downhill on rocky terrain, is timed to coincide with the flowering of many woodland plants, including mountain laurel, pinxter, fringe-tree, Canada mayflower, several violet species, and possibly one or more orchids. Bring binoculars to look for Wood Thrushes, Worm-eating Warblers, Ravens, and other bird species. Tina will give a brief demonstration on illustrating plants in the field during our lunch break.


800px-Nodding trillium plant flower trillium cernuumLate Spring Wildflowers of Gunpowder Falls State Park: Hereford Area

Sunday, May 17 (10 am-3:30 pm)
Leader: Dwight Johnson
Members $30; nonmembers $42

Our leader describes this protected area in Central Baltimore County as the “best walk in the Maryland Piedmont.” We’ll explore several woodland types in our search for wildflowers such as Nodding Trillium and Miterwort, among others, but all manner of spring botanical interest will be our focus. We’ll make frequent stops to study plants on our walk of around 2 miles along a narrow woodland trail, with a couple of stream crossings.


Introduction to Bird ID by Voice

Tuesday, May 19 (7:30-9 pm)
Thursday, May 21 (7:30-9 pm)
Saturday, May 23 (7 am-Noon)
Leader: Mark England
Members $46; nonmembers $64

The sounds made by birds can help find and identify many species, yet to beginning birders, the wide variety of sounds can be confusing. If you know many of our area birds by sight but not by sound, this class is for you. Two evening sessions will use recordings and slides to study bird songs and calls. Our field trip to one or more sites in Montgomery County will give us a chance to listen for and try to learn some of the local species.


Spring Shorebird Migration on the Delaware Bay

Wednesday, May 27 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Saturday, May 30 (full-day field trip)
Leaders: John Bjerke and Cyndie Loeper
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only members $20; nonmembers $28

Each year in May, horseshoe crabs migrate to the beaches of Delaware Bay to mate and lay their eggs. During the same time period, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, en route to summer breeding grounds, stop at the Bay to feast and refuel on the concentrated number of horseshoe crab eggs. At Thursday’s lecture, we will discuss shorebird migration and use slides to help ID some of the most common shorebirds in our region. Saturday’s field trip will take us to the Bay, where we will hope to see and ID a variety of shorebirds.




800px-OspreyNASABreeding Bird Walk at Theodore Roosevelt Island

Saturday, June 6 (7-11 am)
Leader: John Bjerke
Members $24; nonmembers $34

Breeding birds are excellent environmental indicators, and breeding bird surveys generate important data for monitoring the health of ecosystems. On a loop walk around Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River near Georgetown, we’ll explore bottomland woods and wetlands in search of both common and uncommon breeders of this protected habitat. We’ll discuss the breeding strategies of species such as Osprey, Barred Owl, Wood Duck, Northern Parula, and Common Yellowthroat, among others, as well as the types of census techniques which ornithologists and citizen scientists use to determine population levels and trends. We’ll walk up to 2.5 miles at a leisurely pace on natural-surface trails and boardwalk. Our leader participated in the 2002-2006 Maryland/DC Breeding Bird Atlas Project.


Advanced Odonate Studies: Common Damselflies of the Mid-Atlantic

Thursday, June 11 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Sunday, June 14 (full day field trip)
Leader: Richard Orr
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only: members $20; nonmembers $28

Feel like you’re ready to “graduate” from our annual Introduction to “Dragonfly and Damselfly” class led by dragonfly expert Richard Orr? Join us for this advanced class focusing on field identification of the common damselflies of the Mid-Atlantic region. Orr will combine an evening presentation with a field trip to Patuxent Research Center. This is the third of four classes that will cover field ID of all of the dragonfly and damselfly groups in the mid-Atlantic area. Look for “ID of Mature Larvae and Cast Skins of Stream/River Dragonflies” in 2016. Just getting started in dragonflies and damselflies? Our leader’s introductory class in August is for you.


Natural Heritage Series: Suitland Bog

Thursday, June 11 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Sunday, June 14 (morning field trip)
Leader: Cris Fleming
Members $44; nonmembers $58
Lecture only members $20; nonmembers $28

Suitland Bog is a tiny “magnolia bog,” the best preserved of over 30 bogs that once occurred in the Beltsville-Suitland area. At least 20 state-listed species still occur in the bog, including the delicate rose pogonia orchid and two species of sundew. Thursday’s class will include slides of plants and a discussion of bog formation and characteristics of various bog types. Sunday’s field trip to the bog, which we’ll explore by boardwalk, is limited to 14 people.


Early Summer Wildflowers of Little Bennett Park

Saturday, June 13 (9 am-12:30 pm)
Leader: Sujata Roy
Members $24; nonmembers $34

Follow a naturalist, who knows this park well, in a search for the blooms of early summer at Little Bennett Regional Park in upper Montgomery County. We’ll walk up to 3 miles on natural surface and gravel trails, with minimum uphill and downhill, as we visit woodland and wetland. Black Cohosh, also affectionately known as Fairy Candles, should be in bloom, as well as Thimbleberry and a Penstemon species or two.


Summer Shuffles Along the Canal

Wednesdays (9-11:30 am)
Section A: June 17 - Riley’s Lock
Section B: July 1 - Widewater
Section C: July 8 - Carderock
Section D: July 22 - Swain’s Lock
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Each walk members $20; nonmembers $28
Entire series $72/$100

Summer’s here and it may be hot, so we’ll keep our pace to a shuffle as we visit four areas along the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. We’ll stop often to observe birds, wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, snakes, and whatever else we may find underfoot or overhead. Carpooling will be available from Woodend.


Solstice Morning at Hoyle’s Mill Park

Sunday, June 21 (9 am-12:30 pm)
Leader: Carole Bergmann
Members $24; nonmembers $34

Hoyle’s Mill Conservation Park, in upper Montgomery County, MD, preserves the largest diabase bedrock habitat in the state of Maryland. At more than 800 acres and containing the biggest continuous forest under Montgomery County Park supervision, this Park is a rich reservoir of uncommon plants. As official summer arrives, join Carole Bergmann, Forest Ecologist for MNCPPS, for an exploration of this area and the botanically diverse flora it supports. We will walk several miles on Park trails, with some infrequent, light bushwacking.


Six-legged Songsters of Summer

Thursday, June 25 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Leader: Cathy Stragar
Free, but registration is required.

Sticky summer has arrived, and the songs of insects such as cicadas, crickets, and katydids begin to swell into a noisy and riotous chorus. Join naturalist Cathy Stragar at our Woodend Sanctuary for a slide introduction to the most common of these songsters: who they are, why they sing, and how they make their amazing sounds. She’ll also describe how to get involved with the fourth annual Cricket Crawl citizen science activity in late August.


Western Montgomery County Butterfly Count

Saturday, June 27

Join us for the 27th annual Western Montgomery County Butterfly Count. Participants in this citizen science project will sent into the field in teams to count butterfly species in a given area. No experience is necessary. This mid-summer count, modeled after the Christmas Bird Counts, is organized by ANS and sponsored by the North American Butterfly Association and Xerces Society. Email Stephanie Mason at stephanie.mason@anshome.org for a participant’s information letter.


Butterflies of Governor’s Bridge Natural Area

Sunday, June 28 (10 am- 2:30 pm)

Leaders: Dick Smith and Stephanie Mason

Members $24; nonmembers $34

Join a butterfly expert and our Senior Naturalist on a search for early summer butterflies at Governor’s Bridge Natural Area near Bowie, MD. We’ll explore up to a couple of miles in generally open and sunny terrain as we explore the meadow, woodland, and wetland habitats of this park adjacent to the Patuxent River. We’ll hope to spot and ID a wide variety of early summer species, all the while discussing their life histories and host plant relationships. The walk is aimed at beginning and intermediate butterfly enthusiasts, but all are welcome.




Summer on Wheels Along the Patuxent

Saturday, July 4 (8 am-12:30 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 summer activity in the natural world. We’ll dismount often to look for wildflowers, birds, butterflies, and frogs, 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.


Swallowtail on WingstemHoliday Hike Along the River

Sunday, July 5 (8 am-12:30 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason

Members $ 24; nonmembers $34
Join our Senior Naturalist for a general nature walk along the scenic Potomac River as the long holiday weekend winds down. We’ll use the Potomac Heritage trail for our 3.8 mile round trip hike from Riverbend Park to Great Falls Park, VA, and back. Along the way, we’ll watch for the activity of nesting birds, butterflies and other insects, reptiles and amphibians, while IDing summer wildflowers. The hike will follow an uneven, natural-surface trail which could be muddy and which includes a small amount of rocky terrain.


Geology of Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Furnace 

Saturday, July 11 (10 am-3 pm)

Leader: Joe Marx

Members $30; nonmembers $42

Cunningham Falls State park, north of Frederick, MD, features shaded glens, mountain streams, rocky trails, and a 43-acre lake. The geologic history of the area is long and interesting, involving an ancient coastal plain later destroyed by continental collision. We will spend time visiting and exploring both the Catoctin Iron Furnace, where pig iron was produced, using local ore and fuel, from 1777 to 1903, plus the popular falls for which the Park is named. Expect to hike around 3 miles, over uneven trails with some notably rocky stretches. The pace set on geology field trips is typically faster than our usual naturalists’ shuffle.


The Buzz on Bees and Wasps

Saturday, July 11 (8:30-11 am)

Leader: Cathy Stragar

Members $20; nonmembers $28

From solitary parasitic wasps to the highly social honey bee, from potter wasps to carpenter bees, these related insects form a fascinating and critically important part of the natural world. We’ll take a look at their diversity, life histories, significant ecological roles, and worrisome threats facing bees and wasps. We’ll spend our time outdoors, combing the Woodend Sanctuary for wasps and bees, identifying them, and observing their habits.


How Do Their Gardens Grow?

Saturday, July 18 (9 am-12:30 pm)

Leaders: Liz Jones and Marney Bruce

Members $24; nonmembers $34

Here’s your chance to visit the home gardens of two ANSers who have worked to reduce lawn coverage, increase food and shelter for wildlife, and incorporate native plants when possible. Liz and Marney will share their successes and failures on walks through their yards, both of which include water features. One yard is mostly shaded, while the second sports sun-loving plants in the front and shade-loving species in the back. Participants will divide into two groups, visiting one garden for roughly an hour before switching to the other site. Our destination gardens are both in the Bethesda, MD vicinity.


Summer Fungus Walk

Sunday, July 19 (9 am-12:30 pm)

Leader: Tovi Lehmann

Members $24; nonmembers $34

Summer 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 Rock Creek Park in the District, 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.


Advanced Butterfly Studies

Thursday, July 23 (7:30-9:30 pm)
Sunday, July 26 (3/4 day field trip)
Leaders: Dick Smith and Stephanie Mason
Members $46; nonmembers $64
Lecture only: members $20; nonmembers $28

Our workshop is designed to pay special attention to difficult butterfly species, in particular, the skippers and the hairstreaks. We’ll also consider satyrs and other less-noticed butterfly species in our evening lecture at Woodend led by regional butterfly expert Dick Smith. Our field trip to Patuxent Research Center-North Tract will offer opportunities to see some confusing and hard-to-ID species, as well as the more common ones. Our Senior Naturalist will assist with ID of butterfly host and nectar plants.


Sunset Stroll in the Hollow

Saturday, July 25 (7-9 pm)
Leader: Stephanie Mason
Members $20; nonmembers $28

Enjoy a slow evening stroll through the field, forest, and wetland habitats of the Hughes Hollow area, south of Poolesville, MD. As the sun sets, we’ll look and listen for owls, frogs, foxes, beavers, bats, and insects, discussing the adaptations of these crepuscular and nocturnal animals.


Botanical Gems of Montgomery County: Dickerson Conservation Park

Sunday, July 26 (9 am-12:30 pm)

Leader: Carole Bergmann

Members $24; nonmembers $34

The County’s forest ecologist leads us on a summer exploration of another “botanical gem” in this ongoing series. Come prepared to walk from 1.5-2 miles in lush floodplain forest along the Potomac River in Dickerson Conservation Park. While the focus of the hike will be to learn about the range of native trees, shrubs, and summer wildflowers in this rich habitat, the highlight will be the chance to visit some towering, old trees, including the largest known tree in the state of Maryland, a giant sycamore.


PineBarrensWilds of South Jersey: Little Pines and Big Marshes

Monday, July 27 (8 am) to Tuesday, July 28 (4 pm)

Leader: Mark Garland

Members $110; nonmembers $154

Join a seasoned Jersey naturalist on a visit to two very different but wild and unspoiled habitats in southern New Jersey. On Monday, we’ll explore the Pine Barrens, where deep quartz-rich sands support hilltop forests of stunted oaks and pitch pines. In the lower spots, tea-colored rivers are lined with bogs where rare plants thrive. The next day, we’ll visit the vast marshes lining the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County, New Jersey, where we can expect to see a good variety of shorebirds, herons, and other water birds.  Expect open and sunny field conditions on our two days of explorations. Overnight options include motels in Vineland (about 2.5 hours from our Woodend Sanctuary and about 30 minutes from our field sites) and campgrounds in the Pine Barrens. Many chain motels can be found in and around Vineland. Suggestions will be sent with the program confirmation. Program fee does not include lodging.



to the top