October and November Field Trips
General Field Trip Arrangements

Northern Virginia Sparrows
Birds & Geology of Great Falls Park
NEW! VA Marine Science Museum
NEW! Kayak the Potomac River & Gunston Cove
Hawk Migration at Snicker’s Gap
Owl Prowl at Huntley Meadows
Waterfowl at Mason Neck
Occoquan Bay NWR
NEW! Waterfowl Survey – Fairfax County
Wintertime at North Fork Wetlands
America’s Caribbean: the Florida Keys

Advance registration for all FAS Field Trips is required, unless otherwise noted. Please contact the FAS office at 703-256-6895 or
fairfaxaud@erols.com to register. Trips fill-up fast, so don't delay. In the unfortunate event you cannot attend your registered trip, please contact the FAS office immediately. Others are eagerly awaiting an Audubon nature experience.

Sunday, October 13, 6:30AM - Dark

If walks aren't quite your thing, come join The Northern Virginia Bird Club for this year’s "Big Sit". The object is to count all birds seen or heard from a circle 17' in diameter. Participants may leave the circle to i.d. a bird seen from the circle, but may not count birds out of the circle. That's right, it's pretty much a stationary event. Bring a chair, bring a scope. One circle will be located on the banks of the Potomac River at Belle Haven Picnic Area on the GW Parkway, just south of Alexandria. The second circle will be the tower at Huntley Meadows. Volunteers will be available to help with identification. Everyone is welcome—you don't have to stay all day. For more info, call Rich Rieger at 703.768.1641.

Northern Virginia Sparrows
Sunday, October 20, 7:30AM - 12:00PM

Mid-October is one of the best times to find sparrows in Northern Virginia, and this trip led by Larry Cartwright and Paula Sullivan will focus on finding many of these birds. We will explore Manassas Battlefield Park and time permitting, Bull Run Post Office Road. Target species include Chipping, Field, Savannah, Song, Lincoln’s (rare), Swamp, White-throated, and White-crowned Sparrows, as well as Dark-eyed Junco.

Limit: 10 participants. Reservations required.

Directions: from the Beltway, proceed west on Rt. 66 until you come to Manassas Battlefield. Take Exit 47 north onto Sudley Road (Rt. 234) and then take right after a short distance onto Battleview Parkway. Meet at the Cracker Barrel parking lot off to your right.

Birds and Geology of Great Falls Park
Sunday October 20, 8:00AM - 11:00AM

Join Jay Eisenberg to enjoy the birds and geology of this beautiful gorge along the Potomac River. This trip focuses on geology and its influence on birds, some of which the group will be in search of.

Limit: 10 participants. Reservations required.

Directions: Virginia-side Great Falls Park. Take Beltway to exit 44 - Rt. 193. Head west on Rt. 193 toward Great Falls for 4.2 miles to the traffic light. Turn right at light into Great Falls Park. Continue to the entrance booth (collection of $5 fee starts around 8:00 am). Turn right into Visitor Center parking lot. Meet in the corner of the lot near the Visitor Center.

NEW! Virginia Marine Science Museum, Virginia Beach
Saturday, October 26, 10:00AM - 6:00PM

Join the FAS LEAPP Chesapeake Bay Ecology class for a day of exploration and hands-on experimentation on the water and in the museum Bay Lab. Meet at the Museum at 717 General Booth Blvd. in Virginia Beach (1 mile south of Rudee Inlet Bridge.) Motel arrangements are still pending for those wishing to overnight Friday and/or Saturday, Oct. 25 & 26. More detailed information will be provided upon registration.

Limit: 12 participants. Registration required.

Cost: $20 per person. Meals & lodging extra.

NEW! Kayaking for Nature on the Potomac River and Gunston Cove
Sunday, October 27, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Join FAS’ Greg Fleming and Potomac Paddlesports on a kayaking trip to enjoy the natural beauty of the Potomac River around Fort Belvoir up into Gunston Cove. Navigate the waters during brilliant fall foliage where George Washington used to see bald eagles and migrating waterfowl such as teal, pintail, gadwall, and shovelers. This experience will be fun and educational for all and is fully outfitted by Potomac Paddlesports.

Limit: 16 participants. Registration required. The trip may fill up fast so register ASAP and be sure mention you’re with FAS!

Cost: $89 per person.
Cost includes single or double flatwater kayak (stable, comfortable, and open) plus gear and competent instruction.

Registration: Contact Potomac Paddlesports at (301) 515-7337 or toll free at 1-877-KAYAKH2O (529-2542). Website: www.potomacpaddlesports.com. Email: info@potomacpaddlesports.com.

Directions: From I-495, take I-95 south to the Fort Belvoir exit onto the Fairfax County Parkway, continue until the end, and take a left onto Rt. 1 (north). Proceed to the main installation entrance, Pence Gate, and make a right onto Belvoir Road. Fort Belvoir is open to the public with proper identification (a driver’s license and proof of vehicle registration). At Pence Gate you will need to obtain a temporary vehicle pass. Let the Military Police know that you are going to visit the marina for a kayak trip. All participants need photo ID. Please allow a few extra minutes to accomplish this. Once registered, continue on Belvoir Road and then take the second left onto Surveyor Road. At the bottom of the hill, turn left on to Mt. Vernon Road, go over the bridge, and then turn right onto Hudson Rd. and right into the marina.

What to bring: Insect repellent, drinking water, a snack, sunscreen, dry bag, binoculars, and an extra layer of fleece-style synthetic clothing (no cotton).

Hawk Migration at Snicker’s Gap
Sunday, November 3, 9:00AM

Join Bob Abrams at the HawkWatch site at Snicker’s Gap. In November we will find lots of Red Tailed Hawks and hopefully Goshawks and Rough Legged Hawks. There will continue to be a few Bald Eagles, Coopers Hawks, Sharp Shinned Hawks, Red Shouldered Hawks, Harriers, and an occasional falcon. Bob also may lead a small foray into the wooded area for migrating songbirds. Please bring binoculars, spotting scopes, chairs, and lunch (or take a break and head to the store three miles to the east on Rt. 7, where food and restrooms are available).

Limit: NO LIMIT. Reservations required.

Directions: From the Beltway, take the Dulles Toll Road and then the Greenway extension of that road to Leesburg. Snickers Gap is west of Leesburg at the intersection of Rt. 7 and 601, between Bluemont and Berryville. When you're getting to the top of a large hill after the small turnoff for Bluemont, stay in the left lane and take a left at the top of the hill, onto 601, and then take an immediate right into the gravel parking lot. That's where the count is—lots of scopes will be visible.

Owl Prowl at Huntley Meadows
Saturday, November 9, 5:00PM

Let’s hoot for FAS’ expert hooter Lara Bainbridge and Kent Knowles of the Raptor Conservancy. Join them for an evening foray into Huntley Meadows where barred owls are on the prowl. Time permitting, interested participants may then travel a short distance to nearby Pohick Bay to search for screech owls. Sure to be a hoot for all!

Limit: 12 participants. Reservations required.

Directions: Front Entrance of Huntley Meadows Park is located at Harrison Lane and Lockheed Boulevard in Alexandria. Beltway Exit 177A which is Richmond Highway or Route 1 south for three and a half miles to a right on Lockheed Boulevard. The park entrance is approximately three blocks down on the left at Harrison Lane. For more information about Huntley Meadows Park call 703-768-2525.

What to Bring: Wear warm clothing, bring a flashlight and binoculars.

Waterfowl at Mason Neck
Saturday, November 16, 7:30AM - 11:30AM

Join Rich Reiger to search for wintering waterfowl at the Great Marsh in Occoquan Bay, and at other locations on the Mason Neck peninsula. Tundra Swans are usually present during this time of year.

Limit: 12 participants. Reservations required.

Directions: From Rt. 1 south, turn left on Gunston Road. Continue on Gunston until you see signs for Mason Neck Refuge and State Park. Take a right on High Point Road toward the state park entrance until you see a parking lot in a wooded area on your left. The group will meet here.

Occoquan Bay NWR
Saturday, November 23, 7:30AM - 11:30AM

Occoquan Bay NWR in Woodbridge, VA contains a variety of habitats for you to explore with Marc Ribaudo who will lead you through this beautiful area in search of birds. Much of the refuge is still off limits, but the open trails allow visitors to walk through meadows, woodland, and along the Potomac and tidal creeks at the river’s edge. The refuge represents one of the last undeveloped grasslands in Northern Virginia, and with its diversity of habitats is a prime site for year-round birding. Over 200 species have been recorded here, including ten sparrow species. Wintering waterfowl and raptors can be observed easily from the trail network. This trip should provide ample opportunities to observe and study a variety of wintering waterfowl, raptors and other birds.

Limit: 12 participant. Reservations required.

Directions: From the Beltway take I-95 South 9 miles to the left exit on Rt. 161 (Woodbridge). Go south on Rt. 1 about two miles and turn left on Dawson Beach Rd. Go about a half mile to the entrance gate and continue to the parking lot, where the trip will begin.

NEW! Waterfowl Survey in Fairfax County
Saturday, December 7, 7:30AM-12:00PM (opportunity in some areas for all day)

Over the last two years, teams of volunteers ventured forth to more than a dozen locations to attempt a first-ever comprehensive waterfowl survey of Fairfax County. The results are being used to study long-term trends. The findings have shown this area to be so abundant in waterbirds that this year Kurt Gaskill and FAS are organizing a survey to include both the Potomac and Occoquan watersheds. Be an active participant and help us count grebes, herons, ducks, swans, and gulls in our second annual census! Consider it a kind of warm-up for the Christmas Bird Count. And it is an excellent opportunity for families to work as a team.

Limit: None!
As a matter of fact, we need 20 to 22 teams of four people. Reservations are required to form teams. Please call the FAS Office to register. Kurt Gaskill or Larry Cartwright will then contact you with your assignments. Teams will be divided among sectors of the ADC Maps for Fairfax and Prince William counties. This is an excellent opportunity for beginner birders.

The Winter Wonders of Wetlands at North Fork Wetlands Bank
Sunday, December 8, 7:00 AM – 11 AM

Join Trip Leaders Paula Sullivan and Ray Smith for an exciting day of birding at the new, private North Fork Wetlands Bank in Western Prince William County. This outing marks the fourth in a series of seasonal FAS field trips to explore Spring migration, Summer nesting, Fall migration, and Winter in an emerging wetlands habitat. The two-year old bank already boasts some 163 bird species, many to be discovered as you enjoy a 1 ½ mile birding trail.

Considered one of the best new birding areas in Northern Virginia, this Piedmont grassland/wetland is part of the William B. Snyder Camp. The Boy Scouts of the National Capital Area has kindly opened the area to FAS for you to experience this up-and-coming natural area. Created by Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., the wetlands were planted with 200,000 native trees and shrubs, as well as 16,000 lbs. of native warm season grasses and wild flowers.

PARTICIPANT LIMIT: 15. Registrations required.

Meeting Place: Food Lion parking lot at the Southeast corner of Rt. 15 and Rt. 55. We will consolidate into three cars and carpool to the wetland bank—parking at the wetland bank is limited. Meet at 7:00 AM to carpool to the site.

Getting There: I-66 west past Gainesville to the Rt. 15 exit. Turn south on Rt. 15 to Rt. 55. Turn left on Rt. 55 then right into the food Lion parking lot.

America’s Caribbean: Kayaking and Snorkeling the Florida Keys
March 11 - 16, 2003

Migrate south to escape winter in the fabulous Florida Keys with FAS' Greg Fleming and Sunny Pitcher of Potomac Paddlesports. Enjoy an ideal mix of adventure, relaxation, and a bit of luxury in a place often referred to as “America’s Caribbean!” Explore dense mazes of mangrove creeks, go on safari in the backcountry flats region, and snorkel or dive the coral canyons of a reef. This trip is designed to please beginning and experienced paddlers alike.

Possible birds to observe: Brown booby, magnificent frigatebird, Wurdemann’s heron, great white heron, reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, swallow-tailed kite, short-tailed hawk, purple gallinule, limpkin, Wilson’s plover, sandwich tern white-crowned pigeon, white-winged dove, mangrove cuckoo, smooth-billed ani, antillean nighthawk, western kingbird, gray kingbird, scissor-tailed flycatcher, black-whiskered vireo, “golden” yellow warbler, painted bunting, shiny cowbird, and many others. Some of these birds can only be found on the Florida Keys, so don’t miss the chance of a lifer!

The Keys boasts the only living coral reef in the Continental United States. On the snorkel/scuba adventure, you will charter a boat to Looe Key for the most spectacular diving and snorkeling
in all of the Florida Keys. You will be amazed by a dizzying array of reef residents peering back at you from a mere nose-length distance.

Package Includes: Hotel accommodations at the Banana Bay Resort on Marathon Key, all meals; kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving equipment (by expert instructors) and on site ground transportation.

Registration: Registration Deadline is January 25, 2003. Contact Potomac Paddlesports at (301) 515-7337 or toll free at 1-877-KAYAKH2O (529-2542). Website: www.potomacpaddlesports.com. Email: info@potomacpaddlesports.com and mention you are with FAS!

Cost: $1,385 (not including air fare). Register by 11/30/02 to receive a $100 early bird discount.

Be sure to attend the October 15th FAS Nature Night Program for a short informational slide show presentation on the Florida Keys field trip.


Recurring Field Trips

Several parks in the area have established year-round weekly field trips.

They are:
Location Time Leader
Dyke Marsh Sundays, 8:00am Various
Eakin Park Mondays, 7:00 a.m. March-Nov., 7:30 a.m. Dec.-Feb Carolyn Williams
Great Falls, Virginia Sundays, 8:00am Various
Huntley Meadows Park Mondays, 7:00am Andy Higgs
Unless otherwise noted in the monthly schedule, these are not FAS sponsored trips, but FAS members are always welcomed.

Field Trip Arrangements

Most field trips require reservations. FAS members have priority in signing up for field trips.  Also note whether a field trip has been marked as "Full". 

Note:  When calling to make reservation for these trips do not wait until the last minute.  Please give us at least a three day advance notice!  And of course, calling to cancel when you cannot attend is not only courteous but will allow fellow FAS members the opportunity to participate.

To sign up for a field trip, contact the Fairfax Audubon office at 703-256-6895 or send an e-mail to Fairfax Audubon.