“Build it, and they will come.”


Pond in progress with Kate and Frank.

With team workdays this spring and lots of individual efforts, the Headwaters Chapter Wildlife Center of Virginia‘s Wildlife Garden project has lots to show and is attracting attention from people and wildlife alike. The perennial garden, raised bed wildlife food “micro-farm” and lush corner pond with a trickling waterfall are all installed and doing their thing. Here is the latest update from project coordinator Kate Guenther:

Gray tree frog in pond wall.

Gray tree frog in pond wall.

“Build it, and they will come.” The first to arrive were the frogs. Very loud gray tree frogs have taken up residence around the pond. So has a pickerel frog. We’re up to 10 frogs total now!  Unbelievable!

A mouse was scared out of the raised rock bed when Kate watered the garden.

A single morel-looking mushroom is growing in the garden—a surprise!

Then, after a notorious, long, spring, baby-season day, Dr. Kristin Britton and a student decided to call it quits at 11pm. The Wildlife Center has one of those building alarms that allows 45 seconds for the last person to get out of the building or the alarm goes off, calls the police and contacts the President, Ed Clark, at home. Many live in fear of setting off the alarm. As Dr. Kristin exited the main door with the alarm beeping down to blast off , she looked to her right and not 15 feet away stood a black bear getting a drink out of our new pond.

Pond in late May 2014.

Pond in late May 2014.

“I didn’t know which was worse, confronting a bear face to face or setting off the alarm,” Kristin said. “In a split second, I decided the bear was less intimidating than the alarm. So, we yelled and clapped and now I know I can scare off a bear!”  After that incident, Ed and Kate crafted an emergency plan should the local bears decide to do more than drink out of our pond, and somehow tear our pond liner with sharp claws.

Bear risks aside, everyone seems to be enjoying the new pond and critters.

We are entering the last phase of this project before the Saturday August 16 morning ribbon-cutting ceremony to which you are all invited. We still have to finish the signage. Sandy and her team of designers and artists are working with WCV staff to create 3 large metal signs that describe the Center and its mission, what we have done with the habitat in this project and what citizens can do to create wildlife habitat on their own properties.

If you have not yet been involved in this project and you want to join in on the fun, there still is time! Contact Kate at goatherderkate[at]yahoo.com, 540-350-2824.

Pickerel frog on our pond wall.

Pickerel frog on our pond wall.

Click on the image to find a short video of Angel releasing the first goldfish into the WCV pond in mid-June.

Click on the image to find a short video of Angel releasing the first goldfish in mid-June.


Find complete photo documentation of this 2013/2014 HMN Focus Project by Kate on the Virginia Master Naturalist’s Smug Mug site here.