Ashley Bradford and Bill Young have created MPNature to present natural history information to a wide audience on a website that is easy to use and attractive to look at. They want to provide material that goes beyond what can be found in typical bird and nature guides and websites. The site is devoted to the principle that people are not likely to want to protect the natural environment until they love it, and they are not likely to love it unless they understand it.
Ashley is a naturalist and photographer who is interested in birds, plants, and arthropods. She has a deep appreciation of the tiny creatures in the world that most people don't notice. Her specialty is macro photography, concentrating on insects and spiders. She is one of the founders of Arachtober, an initiative to post photos of spiders throughout the month of October. Arachtober began on Flickr in 2007 and has since spread to other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Some of her photos appear in the guide Beetles of Eastern North America, by Arthur V. Evans. They have also been featured in numerous magazine articles, and she contributes photos to websites and apps, such as the Maryland Biodiversity Project, BirdsEye, and BugGuide.
Bill is a writer who has traveled to all seven continents to study birds and natural history. His book The Fascination of Birds: From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat was published by Dover Publications in 2014. It explores the connections between birds and a broad range of subjects, such as biology, ecology, literature, music, history, politics, economics, religion, geography, physics, chemistry, linguistics, the visual arts, the performing arts, sports, and comedy. The book is intended to help beginners to better understand the birds they see and the bird references they encounter, and it might help experienced birders to learn more about many ornithological and non-ornithological aspects of birds. Bill makes videos about natural history, and his YouTube channel has had more than a half a million views. He also works with Alexandria Country Day School to help students learn about the birds and plants in Monticello Park.
During the spring migration, Bill used to email daily reports about sightings at Monticello Park to a list of birders who visited the park. At some point, he began to include brief items that he thought would be of interest to birders on the list. Bill got to know many of the photographers who visit Monticello, and some offered to let him include their photos with the emails. Eventually, Bill began to include information with the photos about how to identify some of the birds who had been seen at Monticello that day. Many Monticello birders forwarded Bill's emails to their friends, and a lot more people requested to be added to the email list.
In 2017, Ashley asked Bill if he had thought about collecting and preserving the information from his emails on a website. Ashley is a professional visual designer, with experience in the design and creation of websites. She offered to do the design and to show Bill how to code. What started out as an idea discussed by Ashley and Bill grew into a substantial citizen science initiative.
Many people have graciously provided photographs for MPNature. The greatest number have been provided by Bill Higgins and Mike Pollack, both of whom are outstanding photographers and regulars at Monticello. Other photos have been provided by Ashley, Bill, Carol Stalun, Paula Sullivan, Ed Eder, Sharon Lynn, and Lori Price. Special thanks go to Bill Hohenstein, who has shot a lot of wonderful videos of birds at Monticello Park, and to Patrick Newcombe, who did such a great job proofing the trip reports in the travel resources section.
Eric Dinerstein has been extremely generous in allowing his essays about nature to be included on this site. Eric took the lead in a survey of the trees and plants at Monticello, accompanied by Ed Eder, Ashley, and Bill. You can read more about Eric on the page with links to his nature essays.
Below is a list of those who have contributed to the site as well as links to some of their other work.
• Ashley Bradford
• Eric Dinerstein
• William Young
• Patrick Newcombe
Photographs and Videos
• Michael Pollack
• Ashley Bradford
• William Young
• William Hohenstein
• Carol Jean Stalun
• Paula Sullivan
• Edward Eder
• Michael Davis
• Lori Price
• Sharon Lynn
Links to works by Contributors
• Photographs used by BirdsEye
• A selection of bug photos
• Illustrations and other works on Behance
• Book: Cuma's Voice: An Environmental Utopia
• Book: What Elephants Know: A Novel
• Book: Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations
• Book: The Return of the Unicorns: The Natural History and Conservation of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros
Carol Jean Stalun