Nearby Nature

photo by John White

Spring Peeper by John White

You don’t have to visit a rain forest or huge wilderness area to see cool critters. Some pretty amazing animals can be found right here in Northern Virginia. You can find nearby nature everywhere… in your garden, along the stream corridor behind your house, watching your kids play ball and when visiting local parkland.  Last fall I was delighted to see the Variegated Fritillary butterfly I’d been hunting for weeks perched on a tent, not five feet from my chair, at my son’s Ultimate Frisbee tournament at the Polo Grounds in Upperville.

Once you spot an interesting critter, it’s fun to know more about the species. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Even if you have the right field guides at home, some species can be difficult to identify and it’s very helpful to know which species you can expect to see in Northern Virginia.

To help highlight the diversity of wildlife that still frequents Northern Virginia habitats – and to help narrow your search for cool critters close to home – we’ve created an online resource for Northern Virginia wildlife. Or, more accurately, we’re creating an online resource. There’s so much out there, this is a project with no end in sight!

We’re off to a great start and you can view our Nearby Nature website here. Every season brings it’s own opportunities for exciting wildlife discoveries. Now is a great time to start taking a closer look at some of the fascinating species that live right in our own backyard!

Many thanks to the people who are helping make this information available to us all, including Tony Coomer, Julia Flanagan, John White and Alonso Abugattas. If you’re interested in helping with this fun project, please contact us at


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