Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is sometimes asked to do a special nature program or environmental education field trip for a community or group of kids and as long as our volunteers are available, we head on out to explore and share the wild nature of Loudoun.
Phil Daley and Joe Coleman met up with the Girl Scout troop at the Dulles Wetlands in Leesburg yesterday afternoon. With the spring weather already being so wonderful, it was a great day to be out but in addition to that, the girls (as well as Joe and Phil) were in for a special treat with not only great views of the Bald Eagles but also a Sandhill Crane! A real rarity for Loudoun! Here’s the report from Joe Coleman:
Phil Daley and I, with permission from the Dulles Greenway management, took a Girl Scout troop on to the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project late this afternoon. We were able to show them a BALD EAGLE and at least one very young and small nestling almost immediately. After that, at about 5:30 pm we were explaining to them the many reasons why wetlands are so important to the environment and what wonderfully diverse wildlife nurseries they are.
At one point we were standing in the mud on the edge of a thick stand of cattails and explaining to the girls and their parents how easy it would be for a bird or mammal to find shelter in the them and showed them drawings of rails as well as actual tracks of several different mammals that use the wetlands. Not expecting any kind of response at that time of day I briefly played about 20 seconds of a Virginia Rail tape. As soon as I turned the tape off two different VIRGINIA RAILS responded!
A little later while walking to the far side of the wetlands Phil spotted a bird which both of us, at first, took for granted as a Great Blue Heron flying into the wetlands, though it flew and landed differently than Great Blues do. After it landed on the far side of the wetlands across from us and thinking we might be able to show the girls a Great Blue in breeding plumage we put it in the spotting scope and immediately realized it was a solitary SANDHILL CRANE! While it was pretty active and kept disappearing in the high vegetation on the edge of the wetlands, we were able to show it to most of the girls and their parents though it did rapidly disappear from sight. We were unable to find it again before we left.
All in all a great couple of hours of birding … Joe Coleman