BRDC is very excited to be a recipient of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries eStore Grant! This grant will provide vital material support for the programs we offer. As you all well know, birding and fly fishing are two subjects that inspired BRDC from the very beginning. This generous grant is going to boost these two programs to another level!
6 kids went on a gravity-defying adventure in the high country participating in BRDC’s inaugural Ornithology Camp. For four days and three nights, the kids camped out and honed their ornithology skills, searching for bird species that inhabit the diverse appalachian ecosystems of southwest Virginia.
We are excited to announce that Blue Ridge Discovery Center has been awarded the contract to provide web content for the SWVA Outdoors Website. This project is headed up by the Friends of Southwest Virginia and is an effort to highlight the awesome outdoor recreation opportunities our region has to offer.
On a chilly January day, local birder Cathy Spencer stopped by our office with news of an injured red-tailed hawk just up the highway. We frequently get calls for help from concerned citizens about injured animals. For many years we were able to connect them to local wildlife rehabilitators William and Joyce Roberts. With William's death this past summer, dedicated rehabilitator Darin Handy stepped forward to carry the torch. After consulting Darin, we grabbed a blanket and BRDC storage tub and headed out to find the bird.
Blue Ridge Discovery Center, in gratitude and honor of our recently departed and most principled birder and outdoor enthusiast, would like to advance his contagious interest in birds, flight, majesty of raptors, seasonal surprises of migration, and his boundless curiosity.
We believe that the best way to share his love of birds is to create an Ornithology Camp supported by a scholarship fund in his name.
We had two working classes: Becky Absher’s ecology and Deb Greif’s/Kathy Davis' math analysis. Working with both classes from March through April, Blue Ridge Discovery Center focused on acquainting the students with local birds, their habitats and behavior. Starting in early March, we divided up our instruction time between in-class studies and outdoor walks behind the school. Through Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology curriculum, called Bird Sleuth, we watched a series of videos dedicated to the skills of bird id and natural history. Outside, along Stinky Creek, we set up a few bird feeders to draw in common feeder birds, giving us the opportunity to put our new-found skills to test.
BRDC set up shop at Hungry Mother State Park this past weekend where we shared our traveling booth of wonders with visitors. Area youth dissected owl pellets and studied raptor wings, skulls and talons. While tending our booth we got to scope birds on the lake including, pied-billed grebe, red-breasted mergansers and eastern kingbirds.
At long last, the Southwest Virginia Home Educators returned for another fun-filled day of exploration and discovery at the Matthews State Forest. Twelve children of a wide age range and four moms joined Evan Worrell and me (Scott Jackson-Ricketts), BRDC guides, for a five hour plot investigation. We dedicated the morning to bird identification realizing quite a data set once the sun came out.
Avian spring migrants come in two categories: Northbound birds and elevation transients or lateral migrators. The second group mostly consists of our high elevation breeders, such as dark-eyed juncos, that drop off the mountain tops for a few winter months in search of easier food, water and in some cases, shelter. Most of us, however, think of the distance travelers, when we talk about spring migration.
Blue Ridge Discovery Center is proud to welcome Roald Kirby to our team of naturalist explorers and guides. As program director of our new Blue Ridge Expeditions, Roald brings years of outdoor experience and love of our Blue Ridge to the public through a series of walks, guided hikes and nature lore.
Today, BRDC brought six young people, one mom and one staff member to the Music Center, and/or Fisher's Peak along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a walk in the park. Through our Avian Adventures Program we aimed to hear and find birds, who are winding down their typical territorial and breeding behavior, yet we managed to find indigo buntings, red-eyed vireo, field sparrows, a broad winged hawk and hooded warbler.
Birding with campers at Grayson Highlands State Park 6/29/13 Julie Slater, intern at GHSP, and Blue Ridge Discovery Center have joined forces for a series of on-site programs this summer and fall. (See previous blogs regarding the currency of this association through BRDC’s Fish Bugs program.) Our choice of study for this program was Sullivan Swamp (defined as an Appalachian shrub bog), with a strong focus on birds.
Through Eric Harrold's tireless outreach, BRDC is now engaged with the Methodist Camp Dickenson here in Grayson County with a series of summer programs focused on birds and ecology. Avian Adventures made its first foray last Thursday, June 13th, and along with guide Scott Jackson-Ricketts, Eric led a group of 13 kids for a walk around the riverside property.