Headwaters Master Naturalists August 2016 Newsletter
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Upcoming ...

Birds of the 'Burg Guided Bird Walks for Children & Families, Saturday, August 6, 8:30-10:30AM. Shelter #12, Hillandale Park, Harrisonburg. Led by HMN Kathy Byers, 540-820-6517

Virginia Household Water Quality Program, Virginia Master Naturalists August Continuing Education Webinar, Tuesday, August 9, 12:00PM. Presented by Erin King, Senior Extension Associate in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. More about this and link for webinar HERE.

Geophysicist Justin R. Brown Presentation, Tuesday, August 23, 2-4PM. North River Library, Bridgewater. Justin Brown is a Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University. HMN CE opportunity. More details coming. Contact Margaret Speicher.

2016 Virginia Master Naturalist Statewide Volunteer Conference and Training, Friday, August 26 - Sunday, August 28 at Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake, Wirtz, Virginia. Registration has closed. More about the conference HERE.

Batwatching with the Save Lucy Campaign's Leslie Sturges and Wild Virginia, Friday, September 2, 7:15PM. At Maple Flats south of Waynesboro. Registration required. More HERE.

HMN Pollinator Waysides: Year Two

From top then left to right:

Project Grows Pollinator Wayside 2016

Site coordinator for the HMN pollinator waystation at Project Grows, Ann Murray, recently spent time at the garden with Judy Tammi and Chris Bowlen. Thanks to Ann for the photos, and write-up below!

We met July 13 at 9AM at Project Grows. A small group of kids visiting from Pygmalion School was led by Jenna, a Project Grows educator. She asked if one of us would tell them about the pollinator garden. Chris gave a great description of what we are doing, raising native plants for native pollinators. The kids were spellbound by Chris' description of pollination and up close inspection of a flower. Judy was thinking "God, she's good at this," and Ann was thinking "She is a natural teacher."

Jenna thanked us for the garden, stating the children are enjoying it every day. She invites everyone to their Thursday evening potlucks held at 5:00 PM at Project Grows.

Best of all, a monarch visited the milkweed while we were weeding the garden. Maybe we'll have some caterpillars!   
A Few Summer Photos

From top then left to right:
  • Peggy Plass, Carl Droms and Janet James represented our chapter for an outreach event at the Harrisonburg African American Festival in June. Inset is Janet's daughter, Jenna Benzing, helping to draw attention with her skull collection.
  • The Market Compost Drop-off Project is anticipating topping two tons of total compostables collected at this weekend's Market and will celebrate the milestone with Market prizes for the contributor of the 4000th pound. Since the project's start in April, it has succeeded in diverting 3810 pounds of kitchen scraps from the landfill. Inset shows an almost full bin.
  • VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Montebello State Fish Hatchery manager Thom Teears gave the last of a series of weekly lunchtime talks at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU this week. HMNs were well represented in the audience to learn about threats to Virginia native aquatic life from invasive species.
Augusta Bird Club Celebrating 50 Years with Library Display

As part of the celebration of the Augusta Bird Club's 50th anniversary, a display has been installed at the Staunton Public Library with a variety of information about birds and the club's efforts and projects. The club hopes you can visit the library and enjoy the display while on view through August 30th.

- Penny Warren, Cohort I, outgoing Augusta Bird Club President

More about this display including an "online preview" at

Staunton Public Library, 1 Churchville Ave., Staunton
9:00 am - 9:00 pm Monday - Thursday
9:00 am - 5:00 pm Friday and Saturday

Get all of your continuing education hours for the year and more.  Enjoy meeting VMN volunteers from all over the state. See a part of the state that may not be familiar to you, and learn from instructors who aren't regular presenters for your chapter. The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter has put together a terrific program for you!

Follow to read all the conference details.
Registration closed on August 1.
Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch is one of over 200 hawk watch sites in North America monitored by the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA). The primary mission of our hawk watch is to collect raptor count data during fall migration in a repetitive and consistent fashion.

We are unique in that our site is very easily accessible, with no hiking or climbing necessary. Our hawk watch is conducted each fall on the grounds of the Inn at Afton (elevation 2,000 ft), just off highway 64 at exit 99 just east of Waynesboro, VA. One can literally drive up, park and hawk watch. Observation from the parking lot provides a 180 degree panoramic view of Rockfish Gap, the Shenandoah Valley to the west, and the Piedmont Region to the east.

A small group of local volunteers man the watch from August 15 to November 30. We have 13 common and 2 uncommon raptor species that migrate through our area. ... Although most of the birds fly well above eye-level, many do come in close for awesome photo opportunities! Peak migration occurs in the final two weeks of September. During this time we can get 50-100 visitors on the weekends who come to enjoy the raptor show of as many as 10,000 hawks on a single day.

Counters Needed
There are various ways that folks can help our hawk watch, depending on their level of experience. Anyone, regardless of experience, is welcome to sit with our experienced counters to help scan the skies and find raptors. The more eyes on the sky the better! For those that are more serious about becoming an official counter, then appropriate training will be provided. Contact: Vic Laubach, Coordinator, Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch,

- from Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch website

Red-tailed hawk photo credit Shenandoah National Park

Inside the summer edition of The Pollinator you will find: How can Master Naturalists get involved with Spotted Skunk research?

Because so little is known about the distribution of eastern spotted skunks, our study relies heavily on reported sightings, trail camera photos, and reports of spotted skunk road-kills by the public to locate potential trap sites. Master Naturalists can help by spreading the word about eastern spotted skunks and contacting Emily Thorne, Virginia Tech graduate student and head researcher on the Virginia Eastern Spotted Skunk Project, at with information about confirmed sightings. Valuable information includes date and time sighting occurred, exact location (GPS location if possible), name and contact information of the landowner, and photo(s) if available.

- Emily D. Thorne, Virginia Tech

There will be a Continuing Education webinar for VMN volunteers on September 28 that will focus on spotted skunks and how VMNs can contribute to this research.  Watch the VMN Continuing Education page for details.

Did you know that Eastern Box Turtle populations are declining?

The Virginia Herpetological Society collects data on Box Turtle sightings in Virginia to help improve our understanding of Box Turtles in Virginia.

Click HERE to access the data collection form to submit the next time you cross paths with a Box Turtle in Virginia.

Plants Map Featured Profile: Virginia Master Naturalists care for public landscapes and educate visitors is HERE ... including HMN's Cohort IV training project at Cooks Creek Arboretum in Bridgewater.
Submissions please!

The HMN newsletter and website need your input! Please send articles, photos or ideas to Adrie. Newsletter item deadlines are the last day of the month for the following month's issue.

Wind your way HERE for a Naturalist-related events calendar for our area. Contact Adrie if you know of events to add to the calendar.
Copyright © 2016 Headwaters Master Naturalists, All rights reserved.

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