Wild Ideas: As spring approaches, nature events ramp up  

Along with skunk cabbage, a lot of nearby nature events, indoor and outdoor, are coming up over the next couple of weeks:

Clifton Institute Annual Woodcock Walk (Mar. 2, 4:45-7:30 p.m.) American woodcock males are now performing their famous mating displays in open areas near woodlands. Join the Clifton Institute in a walk to see these birds flying high into the air and twirling back to the ground, calling and making sounds with their wings as they do so. Before going out in the fields to watch and hear the birds perform, enjoy a brief talk about them. Cost is $10 per person, at the door. At the Clifton Institute, 6712 Blantyre Rd., Warrenton. Register online at cliftoninstitute.org/events or email Alison at azak@cliftoninstitute.org.

See American woodcocks, famous for their courtship flights and calls, on a March 3 nature walk at the Clifton Institute. By Larry Sherertz

Rapp Nature Camp for adults orientation (Mar. 3, 4 p.m.): Lyt Wood, camp director, gives an overview on this year’s series of nature education outings for adults (“perennial campers”) — on tree identification, butterflies and dragonflies, migrating birds and sky phenomena — and a short talk about “bird language” as it relates to RNC’s special approach to nature observation. Campers can choose any or all of five camp excursions to interesting habitats in Rappahannock and surrounding counties from Mar. 31 through Sept. 1 and can bring a guest. Find out more and sign up at the meeting, at the Rappahannock County Public Library, or online at rappnaturecamp.org after March 3.

Lyt Wood (center) and last year’s Rapp Nature Camp “perennial campers” go birding in the dawn light at Shenandoah National Park’s Big Meadows. Courtesy Rapp Nature Camp

RNC’s session 1 (June 17-28), for kids 8-12, is full, but the camp is accepting applications for this session’s waiting list. Session 2 (July 1-12), for kids 12-16 years old, still had openings as of Feb. 25. After more than three decades, RNC became a nonprofit organization in 2016. (Look for more on the camp in an upcoming column.)

Virginia Native Plant Society Winter Workshop (Mar. 9, 9-3:15): This year’s VNPS workshop focuses on management and restoration in some forested habitats, including large-scale projects to address challenges facing Virginia’s woodlands and strategies for maintaining improving them. Talks focus on the condition of eastern forests and the problems they face, current management and restoration projects from the longleaf pine communities of the coastal plain to the high-elevation red-spruce ecosystem of the Central Appalachians and the mixed hardwood forest of the Alleghenies on Virginia’s western border. At Piedmont Community College, Charlottesville. To see fees, download a brochure or register, go to vnps.org/events; for questions, contact VNPS at vnps.org@gmail.com, 540-837-1600 (office), or 703-434-0009 (day of event).

YHikes! (Mar. 9, 10-noon): Children ages 5 and older are invited to come to the Clifton Institute’s monthly youth nature hike to explore the field station and learn about the animals, fungi and plants that live here. The walk is outside but doesn’t go far, with frequent stops to look at and learn about all the different the species that live there. Parents are welcome to drop off their child or may attend the program, which is free. At the Institute, 6712 Blantyre Rd., Warrenton. Register online at cliftoninstitute.org/events or email Alison at azak@cliftoninstitute.org.

VNPS Second Sunday Walk (Mar. 10, 1-3 p.m.): The Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society hosts an easy walk 1.5-2 mile walk along an established hiking trail at Weston Wildlife Management Area, near Casanova (Fauquier County). Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wildlife biologist Ron Hughes, who manages WMAs throughout Northern Virginia, guides attendees through diverse upland forest, gradually dropping in elevation to the floodplain of Turkey Run. Both sites are recognized by the Virginia Department of Recreation and Conservation’s Division of Natural Heritage as ecologically significant forest communities. Among the trees in these communities are a variety of oaks and hickories, including large specimens of Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii, in the red oak group), and American elm (Ulmus americana). The walk is free and open to the public. Dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and bring drinking water and binoculars, if you have a pair, but please leave pets at home. For more information or to sign up, email piedmontvnps@gmail.com.

© 2019 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.”

1 Comment

  1. Due to weather, the Rapp Nature Camp orientation mentioned in this column has been postponed until March 11 (4 p.m.), at a location to be determined. Check the camp’s website, at rappnaturecamp.org, for updates.

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