Park celebrates nature’s bounty

The folks at Leesylvania State Park celebrated Natural Heritage Day on Saturday with an awards ceremony, music, prizes, a birds of prey show and a reptile and amphibian exhibit.

After the 2003 Partners for the Potomac Awards Ceremony where the Friends of the Occoquan, Carl Diamond, Benjamin Keil, Melvin Bellinger, Janet Anastasi, Gloria Asbery and Beata Remik were recognized for their good stewardship of the environment, visitors to the park were treated to the environmentally conscious music of Kim and Jimbo.

Kim and Jimbo Cary came to the show armed with a banjo, an upright bass, a guitar, a fiddle and a soprano saxophone. They also brought along baskets filled with rattles made of gourds, tambourines, hand puppets and little drums for their young audience members.

Kim and Jimbo are an interactive act. They make people participate in their show. The children in Kim and Jimbo’s audience sang along with songs about possums’ tails, smelly skunks, snakes and turtles.

Shanise Graves and Dana Toniolli had to speak up when Kim passed out instruments to some the audience members. They didn’t get one of the notched pieces of bamboo and a chopstick that Kim gave the other children in the audience to play.

Graves, 30 of Woodbridge, and Toniolli, 40, of Springfield wanted to play along with the children and be in the rhythm section for Kim and Jimbo by rubbing the chopsticks across the notches in the bamboo.

“We brought our children down here and they had fun and we had fun. We saw the birds, the raptors,” Graves said.

During most of the show Graves and Toniolli seemed to be having most of their fun without the children, who their husbands were minding elsewhere in the park.

Kent Knowles of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, based in Falls Church, brought an eastern screech owl, a red-tailed hawk and several other birds of prey.

During Knowles’ presentation his audience learned that to be considered raptors, or bird of prey, avian predators must take their prey while in flight, using their talons.

“We’re talking about eagles, we’re talking about hawks and falcons. Those are the three daytime hunters that hunt by sight only,” Knowles said.

Owls hunt mainly by using their hearing to locate prey, Knowles told the audience.

Owls can also hunt in the daytime and often do when they have young to feed and it takes two raptor parents to successfully raise a clutch of owlettes, Knowles said.

“There aren’t any ‘MouseDonalds’ out there where raptors can get food. They have to catch it,” Knowles said.

“Just hunting at night when they have young is not going to be sufficient. There aren’t any successful single raptor parents out there,” he said.

Audience members also learned that red-tailed hawks will hide in a flock of vultures to try and blend in so they don’t frighten rabbits, can go three to five days without food, fly up to 200 miles per day, live 10 to 12 years and generally raise two young per year.

Peregrine falcons, Knowles said, can attain speeds of up to 200 mph in their stoops, or dives, and generally strike their prey, in mid-air, at 80 to 100 mph.

Saturday’s celebration at the park kicked off the environmental season which will include several upcoming events around the county.

To learn how to get involved with riparian plantings around area streams in April, call (703) 792-7072.

There will be several spring clean-ups around the county between April and June. To participate, call (703) 792-6272.

The Spring Fling Lawn and Garden Show will be on April 26. For information, call (703) 7926285 or find out how to earn a Woodsy the Owl badge by calling (703) 792-6272. Call (703) 594-3621 to adopt a stream or call (703) 370-8004 to learn how to earn cash for your school by recycling newspapers.

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