Saturday, June 16, 2018

Make yourself at home!

Dick LeRoy looked through his front door’s window and found this little visitor napping comfortably on his porch.  Last summer fawns were content curled up in his flower bed, but now this cozy corner beckons.

According to Wild Republic, mother deer will often leave her babies alone for long periods of time, particularly in the first few days. This is because a newborn fawn has no scent and is safer motionless and alone, rather than trying to keep up with its mother. If there is more than one fawn, she will hide them in separate places. The mother periodically returns to feed the fawn until it is strong enough to join her on her never-ending quest for food.

A new born fawn only weighs between 4 to 8 pounds. It is often compared to the size of a large house cat with really, really long legs! Dick’s reaction to his little visitor: “I guess he suspected he might be welcome and safe at a VMN’s house!”

Looking through front door window: Hello, Little One!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Virginia Master Naturalists Promote ECO Camp 2018 at Moneta Library

On Saturday, June 6th, Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists visited the Moneta library and set up shop to promote the upcoming ECO Camp nature training program at Booker T. Washington National Monument.  Our visit coincided with a magic show at the library because we knew a lot of knowledge hungry kids would be there.

The ECO Camp is cosponsored by BTWNM and is held on Saturdays July 7th, July 14th and July 21st from 9:15 to 11:30 am each day.  There are two nature training classes each day with exciting titles like “Simply slimy and did you ssssay scaly?” and “Insect detectors – stingers, pincers and rashes…oh my!” as well as several others.

The ECO Camp is for kids from 7 through 12 but all kids and adults are welcome to tag along.  If you would like your child to attend, preregistration is required by calling BTWNM at 540-721-2094 no later than June 22nd.  We are limited to 25 kids per day so don’t delay.  Get registered now!

Virginia Master Naturalists Ellen Nuss and Bob Rasmussen manning our ECO Camp Display

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New BRFAL Graduating Class!

Congratulations are in order for our new BRFAL graduating class.  Their graduation was feted on April 28 at Sontag Park near Rocky Mount.  Fifteen eager students completed a two-and-a-half month course focused on nature themes over eight weekday evenings and three Saturdays. As part of the course, 15 instructors presented materials on general ecology; herpetology; mammalogy; entomology; lake and stream ecology; ichthyology; plants and wildflowers; ornithology; dendrology and forest management; weather; and geology, soils, and geomorphology.  Lots of good food was provided and a good time was had by all.

2018 BRFAL Graduation Class

Back row, from left, Jennifer Helms, Karen Rasmussen, Bob Rasmussen, Geoff Orth (Training Coordinator), Steve Gardner, Becky Frauen, Terry Lovell

Front row, from left, Dorian Albano, Bob St. John, Marcia St. John, Shearer Rumsey, Larry Deal

Not pictured, Frances Lash, Lane Cook, Kathy Williams, Cathy Logue

Saturday, May 5, 2018


While casually looking over the pasture where my two donkeys reside and enjoying seeing the new spring growth on the trees and suddenly warm (hot) temperature of the season,  I noticed one of the donkeys mesmerized by something down by the stream. Even when I put on my boots and walked down to see what the attraction was, no amount of calling was going to distract this donkey from its focus. When I got close enough to see what ‘it’ was, I was shocked to find a huge snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentine. I ran back up the hill, lickity split to grab a camera and measuring stick.

Their genus name, Chelydra is derived from the Greek word cheyldra meaning,’ tortoise’. And its species name, serpentine is a Latin derivation of the word serpentis which means ‘snake’, which refers to the turtle’s long tail.

Snapping turtles are wide spread in North America, and can be found in just about any source of freshwater habitat. Their appetite consists largely of vegetation as well as crayfish, flies, toads, frogs, catfish as well as muskrats and just about anything else they can catch. They are measured by the length of their carapace, that hard dorsal shell which is in reality modified bony parts including the ribs. The average is 8-14 inches. Virginia’s record is 18 1/3inches. (By my estimation the one I found was 14-15 inches.)

On land, snapping turtles are often more irritable creatures. Usually we see females on their way to find a nesting site in which to lay her clutch of eggs. They are heavily pregnant (gravid) and on a mission, so don’t mess with them! When in the water, they are much less aggressive. If stepped on, they will probably just tuck in their head and leave you alone, pretending to be just another stepping stone.

This turtle I photographed, I assumed, did not want to become a centerfold model, so I kept my photography to a minimum. I was not going to test to see how much agility it could muster or how much chomping power it possessed. I just let it be.

Submitted by Kathy Scott, Certified VMN, Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter
                                               Franklin County, Virginia