Warblers & Wildflowers Wrap-up!

Warblers & Wildflowers organizer Sandy Greene gives us the numbers, collaborations and take-aways from our May 2021 event celebrating spring on Shenandoah Mountain:

N&Ns (Names and Numbers)

Temperatures were only in the 50s on May 8th for our Mother’s Day Weekend Warblers and Wildflowers Event – a down (for the birds) or down-coat (for the people) day, sunny and windy on Shenandoah Mountain in the George Washington National Forest.  It was finally spring, though, so no one minded at all!  We human volunteers and visitors had a great time surrounded by wildflowers and wildlife.  

Here are some statistics for the day:

3 Sites: Braley Pond, Hone Quarry and Shenandoah Mountain crest at the Confederate Breastworks

~24 Volunteers from Friends of Shenandoah Mountain and Headwaters Chapter Virginia Master Naturalists, and VMNs from the Rivanna Chapter who are already monitors on the Bird and Wildlife Trail. Plus two US Forest Service Biologists, a retired forester, and our own past advisor and newly retired Fisheries Biologist. 

(VMNs: Don’t forget to enter your Volunteer Hours and up to 1 CE credit for the Zoom Huddle and 1.5 CE credits for the day of.)

~130 total Visitors, including a preschool, two families from Richmond, homeschoolers from Highland County, our own HMN basic training class as a field trip, and local birders participating in Global Big Day, mountain bikers, grandparents and grandchildren.

~90 Warblers and Wildflowers handouts (see below) given away. We printed 150.

Wildflower species counted: 59 (includes 14 of the 16 on our handout)

Warbler species counted: 10 (of 16 on our handout)

We saw/heard: Yellow-Rumped, Black and White, Blackburnian, Ovenbird, Chestnut-Sided, Northern Parula, Pine, American Redstart, Black-Throated Green, Cerulean  

Total bird species counted: 30, including Scarlet Tanager, Red Crossbills, Indigo Bunting, Red-Eyed and Blue-Headed Vireos, Woodthrush, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Raven


Benthic macroinvertebrates: 9

Butterfly species: 9

Tree species: 19

Herp species: 3 snake species, wood frog eggs and tadpoles, Eastern spotted newts

M&Ms (Magic and Meaning)

HMNs should be so proud of the chapter talent and partnerships that made W & W happen this year. Why?

  • Because Chip Brown and the Wildflower Walks Committee put out the call for new ideas during the pandemic.
  • Because HMN Cheryl Shull is on both that committee and is the coordinator of Bird and Wildlife Trail loop monitors with Sandy Greene, who all stepped up to volunteer for a socially distanced invitational day for the public.  And Because those volunteers agreed to take on service roles like “Scout” and “Kid Activator” for the public that day.
  • Because Lynn Cameron, HMN Malcolm Cameron and Friends of Shenandoah Mountain were eager to continue our public wildflower partnership, developed the advertising campaign.
  • Because HMN Dave Wendelken shared his photographs of warblers, and HMN Cheryl Shull and HMN Chris Bowlen of wildflowers, and talented HMN Erica Eddins volunteered her graphic design skills to pull them together in a gorgeous handout for the public.
  • Because the North River Ranger District, George Washington National Forest, supported the idea, and biologists Meg Riddle and Sarah Davis signed up as experts for the day.
  • Because the HMN Board granted funds to print the handouts, provide social distanced bucket seats, flags, and team bandannas/masks for each site to identify the naturalists.
  • Because the HMN Continuing Education Committee granted credit hours for preparation and flexible hours for the volunteers to participate on that day, and because HMN Peggy Plass hosted a Zoom Huddle in advance so we could practice our warbler and wildflower chops!
  • Because HMN Outreach Chair Erica Eddins visited the sites on that day and took fabulous photos to share.
  • Because CDC guidance about mask-wearing outdoors changed the week before May 8th, we were able to smile and safely enjoy hikes with people mask free.

Shenandoah Mountain May 8th, 2021. Photo by Lynn Cameron.

Everybody got the message that there’s a lot of biodiversity on Shenandoah Mountain.  

Lynn Cameron

Photo at the top of this post shows VMN John Holden leading a group at Braley Pond. Second and third from right are Cohort VII members Tina Dove and Angie Cromer respectively. Photo by fellow Cohort VII member Art Fovargue.

Circle image above is of a stonefly larva and a riffle beetle from Braley Pond. Photo from Erica Eddins.

Photos below are from the W&W site at Shenandoah Mountain Crest on Rt. 250. Click on any photo to launch a slide show of the images.

Photos below are from the W&W site at Braley Pond. Click on any photo to launch a slide show of the images.

Photos below are from the W&W site at Hone Quarry. Click on any photo to launch a slide show of the images.

Take-aways for next year:

  • It’s good to have everything in close range, so people can see what’s going on.
  • It’s really good to have an activity or display to engage people right away.
  • We needed all the volunteers.
  • It could work to have on-site paper registration for hourly hikes or programs, with a maximum number of participants allowable.
  • Maps are helpful.
  • Flags were not as good as having someone talk to you and go show you things. Need to write more on flags.
  • Field guides were not much used.  No internet connectivity at sites means limited id online.
  • The handouts were very popular.  We need one for fish, butterflies. It was good to use common names, and not obsess as we often do as naturalists for a broad audience.
  • Macroinvertebrates and tadpoles were very popular, as was the wingspan banner (loaned by the Augusta Bird Club).  The rock display on Shenandoah Mountain was popular. Fun for the family to use the “dress a broadwinged hawk” kit and  BirdSong Identiflyer.
  • If it had been 10 degrees warmer, we might have had twice the number of people.
  • We really need to work on posting our photos and sightings to eBird and iNaturalist. So far, no entries have been made from W&W/Global Big Day for these sites.
  • We could personally invite reporters, elected officials, maybe schools?
  • The timing was about right. 11am – 3pm would be ok too.
  • Volunteers appreciate snacks.

– Sandy Greene, Cohort I, May 2021