Wild Ideas: Take a walk on the wild side

I was going to detail my observations of plants and animals getting busy as spring ramps up, but I found so many notices in my email inbox about great free walks and other nature activities that are coming up soon that I decided to focus on those. Have fun choosing!

White House Farm Tree Walk (Friday, April 27, 5:30 pm-7:30 pm): Enjoy an evening tree identification walk along the Shenandoah River and in other areas at White House Farm  in Luray. The walk focuses on identifying native trees from their bark, leaf shape and growing habit; learning about their attributes and natural associations in our local ecosystem; and how they can be used in landscaping instead of nonnative trees. The event is free; children and dogs on a leash are welcome. RSVP to executive director Chris Anderson: canderson@whfarmfoundation.org, (540) 860-1988.

17th Annual Rappahannock Spring Plant Sale (April 28, 9-3): Start your garden right with plants from local growers: Blue Ridge Botanicals (culinary and medicinal herbs, perennials, fruiting shrubs), Hill House Farm & Nursery (eastern U.S. native plants, from perennials to edibles), Eastwoods Nursery (Japanese maples, ginkgoes and dwarf conifers), Morningside Farm & Nursery (perennials, specialty annuals, herbs), Rappahannock County High School Farm to Table Program (student-grown plants),  Rappahannock Nature Camp (nectar plants, pollinator plants, fig trees, Shiitake mushroom logs; for kids, learning how to inoculate mushroom logs); Waterpenny Farm (vegetable, herb and flower plants, farm produce). Also joining in on the sale and celebration of spring: Shade Tree Metal Art, offering hand-crafted metal garden ornaments; Headmasters Pub, with food and drink for breakfast and lunch (all profits go to Rappahannock Nature Camp); and Old Rag Master Naturalists, a community-based, natural-resources volunteer program. “Planting for Pollinators,” a free program for kids, is at 1 p.m. At Waterpenny Farm, 53 Waterpenny Lane, Sperryville, waterpennyfarm.com, 540-987-8567.

Pawpaw may be in bloom on a tree walk at White House Farm this Friday (April 27). By Pam Owen

Cedar Creek Battlefield Flower Walk (May 6, 1 p.m.): Enjoy a flower walk in Cedar Creek Battlefield, Middletown, led by Sally Anderson, a master naturalist, immediate past president of the Virginian Native Plant Society, and a board member of the VNPS Piedmont Chapter. Expect walking up a moderate slope on the road. For details and directions, email piedmontvnps@gmail.com.

Environmental Studies on the Piedmont series

Environmental Studies on the Piedmont — a research, education and conservation organization — invites the public to several series of nature activities at its 900-acre field station at 6712 Blantyre Road, just north of Warrenton. The site has diverse forest, shrub field, grassland, and wetland habitats and is “a rich resource for native plant and wildlife studies,” as ES’s website puts it. The next event in each series is listed below; check the organization’s calendar for more dates and other information, or contact executive director Bert Harris: bharris@cliftoninstitute.org, 615-440-0666.

Saturday Morning Bird Walk (April 28, 7-10 a.m.): Warblers are now migrating into and through the Piedmont, making this a great walk for those who want to get to know their warblers better. Under the expert guidance of Todd Day or Bert Harris, explore the farm in search of resident birds and early migrants. This program is suitable for novice and experienced birders. Bring binoculars, field guides and a water bottle. The walk goes through fields and on trails, so dress appropriately, including waterproof shoes. The gorgeous site has varying habitat and resident waterfowl, among a host of other birds. RSVP to sgarvin@envstudies.org.

Can you sort out local birds as well as those migrating through now? Get help this Saturday (April 28) at a bird walk near Warrenton. By Pam Owen
Learn about birds that are migrating through or into our area, which could include this black-throated blue warbler, at a bird walk this Saturday (April 28). By Mike’s Birds via Wikimedia

Butterfly Walk (April 28, 1-3): This series focuses on butterflies and dragonflies. Explore native grasslands, lake edges, sunny vernal pools and successional fields to learn about insects and help monitor the effects of grassland restoration on native insects. RSVP requested: Bert Harris, bharris@cliftoninstitute.org, 615-440-0666.

Butterfly Survey (May 8): One of a series of butterfly and dragonfly surveys through fall, which involves walking three miles on hilly terrain and, for one part of the surveys, observing in an active cattle pasture. The purpose of the surveys is to monitor the effects of ES’s grassland restoration project, according to Harris. “Nature enthusiasts of all skill levels are welcome to join surveys or walks,” he says. “We will be doing butterfly surveys and walks all summer and in the fall until butterflies stop flying.”

© 2018 Pam Owen

Pam Owen
About Pam Owen 340 Articles
Writer, editor, photographer, and passionate nature conservationist living in Rappahannock County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Two favorite quotes: By E.O. Wilson, who coined the term "biodiversity," "Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction”; by Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they pass by.”