Dr. Desiree Narango, an ecologist, gave a presentation to 70 people on September 12, 2018, explaining how native and non-native plants affect breeding bird populations, behavior and food web interactions. She worked with the Smithsonian Institution's Neighborhood Nestwatch program which focuses on breeding birds in urban/suburban backyards. Like most songbirds, Carolina chickadees are very dependent on caterpillars and other insects when raising their young. A chickadee with four to seven young, needs between 390 to 570 caterpillars every day to feed their young. Caterpillars are very dependent on certain host plants.
Crews operating barges, cranes and boats are at work this fall, 2018, building the breakwater in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, the first stage of Dyke Marsh restoration. The U.S. Geological Survey’s 2010 and 2013 studies identified building a breakwater as the first priority of restoration, a riprap structure designed to replicate the historic promontory removed by dredgers.
The Mount Vernon Gazette (Connection newspapers) published a front-page article on August 16, 2018, by Jerry Fill on the start of the restoration of Dyke Marsh. You can read the entire article online here.
The Mount Vernon Gazette, Connection Newspapers, published an article on our native plant restoration project. You can read it here.
Our partners are the National Park Service, Earth Sangha and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. We also appreciate support from the National Environmental Education Foundation and Transurban.
Several FODMers learned about native and non-native submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) of Dyke Marsh and the Potomac River on July 14, 2018, when Nancy Rybicki gave a tutorial and led a paddle. Dr. Rybicki is an aquatic plant ecologist and wetlands scientist, retired from the U.S. Geological Survey. In her 37 years of studying the vegetation of the Potomac River, she has correlated the presence of submerged aquatic vegetation with water quality.
On a beautiful, 82-degree, breezy July 7, 2018, 15 FODMers studied butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies and their host plants in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and Belle Haven Park.
It was a Needham’s skimmer (Libellula needhami) day. These showy dragonflies were whizzing around everywhere and eating midges, making for easy sightings. The males are bright reddish-orange and have a red face. The females are yellow and black. Both sexes and all ages have a black line on their abdomens and orange-tinted wings.
On June 9, 2018, Dyke Marsh members and friends learned about Potomac River wetland ecosystems and the interrelationships of plants, insects, birds and other biota, on a walk on the Preserve’s Haul Road trail led by Charles Smith, expert naturalist and Chief of Fairfax County’s Stormwater Planning Division, Watershed Projects Implementation Branch. He also discussed human intervention and how native Americans used some of the marsh plants.
On June 9, 2018, twenty volunteers and National Park Service staffers planted another 1,000 native plants on a cleared .65-acre site along the Haul Road trail. The site was previously overrun with non-native or invasive plants, like English ivy, mile-a-minute and stiltgrass.
The Friends of Dyke Marsh shared a table with the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park on June 16, 2018, at the annual Community Day in Gum Springs, a historically African-American community near the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve.
FODMers Catherine Noonan and Mary Luceri greeted many festival-goers and helped youngsters make colorful birds. T-Rex and his “friend” dropped by and entertained all. The event drew 32 vendors and organizations, elected officials, a steel drum band and many guests.
Keeping non-native, invasive plants out of the native plant restoration area along the Haul Road trail is a long-term challenge and efforts began on June 5, 2018, when ten volunteers participated in a training led by National Park Service (NPS) biologist Brent Steury. Brent stressed that the two priority plants to try to control are Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) and mile-a-minute (Polygonum perfoliatum). He urged volunteers to pull them out of the ground before they set seed. “If they set seed, we’ve lost,” he stressed.
There were three active bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve this year, 2018. We will soon report the number of eaglets that successfully fledged. During the week of June 4, “our” eagles, this year’s birds, left the nest. Many visitors enjoyed observing them, especially those nesting near the Haul Road trail.
In the spring of 2018, the combination of heavy rains, easterly winds and normal tidal fluctuations due to the moon’s and sun’s gravitational effect created flooding tides in the wetlands of the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. Visitors saw mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and crustaceans foraging on or near the shores and tidal guts. Some altered some of their foraging patterns, moving to the trails or higher ground than they normally use. Observers saw abundant land snails climbing cattails and other marsh vegetation.