Sunday, December 20, 2020

BRFAL Members Wrapping Up 2020

Birding and Wildlife Trail SMLSP

How are you wrapping up your master naturalist year? Maybe you are watching our winter birds to practice for the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count (, or maybe some winter hiking with wildlife mapping. Could it be that you are taking advantage of online continuing education resources?

However you are using or updating your naturalist skills on approved BRFAL projects, be sure to record your hours in the Volunteer Management System! 

Because 2020 has been a special year, hours for maintaining certification are reduced: 20 hours of volunteer service and 4 hours of continuing education. Thanks for all you are doing, all you have done and all you will do in the coming year! 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Pumpkin Season

Charlotte H was lucky to find this visitor hurrying by!

This bright orange visitor dashed across my back yard recently. It is easy to see how “Pumpkin Spider” is its nickname. More formally it is the Araneus marmoreus, commonly called the marbled orb-weaver. This showy character is found throughout all of Canada to Alaska, the northern Rockies, from North Dakota to Texas, and then east to the Atlantic, as well as in Europe.

Their webs are found in trees, shrubs and tall weeds, and grasses in moist, wooded settings and along the banks of streams. The webs have a "signal" thread attached to the center that notifies the spider when prey has been captured. Araneus marmoreus hides in a silken retreat to the side of the web at the end of the signal thread.

 To find out more, visit

 BRFAL members, keep sending in stories or pictures of your very own “Fall Finds!” 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

BRFAL Save our Streams Monitors

Virginia Save our Streams has more than 600 volunteers collecting information at approximately 250 stream sites. Our local SOS chapter is the Smith Mountain Lake (SML) Watershed. SML-SOS and BRFAL have a long standing collaboration for stream monitoring. Many BRFAL members are certified SOS monitors, reporting data on over 15 stream sites. 

Having site-specific and timely water quality information allows us to identify pollution problems, determine how to restore streams, and assess success of restoration efforts. Data from SOS monitoring is recorded and shared with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. 

Monitoring is officially paused right now due to Covid-19 precautions

Monitors, be sure to check your email for a message from Samantha Briggs, Virginia Save Our Streams (SOS) Clean Water Program DirectorSOS is hosting a photo contest!

Submit your best photos in the following categories: Macroinvertebrates, Monitoring in Action, Community, Pets and Streams, and Nature and Wildlife. For information on category descriptions, contest rules and prizes (wow!) be sure to visit:

Contest ends December 31, 2020.

We are missing each other and our "creek time"!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Outdoor drama

 Connie H sends this evidence of a life and death struggle.


                                  Could it be a hawk staking out her bird feeders?

Nothing goes to waste in nature. Note the detritus: How will what is left behind make this little patch of the world different? Check out