About MPNature

Ashley Bradford
Ashley Bradford

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 also makes videos about natural history, and his YouTube channel has had more than a quarter of a million views. During the 2018-19 school year, Bill is working with Alexandria Country Day School to help students to learn about the birds and plants in Monticello Park.

Bill Young
Bill Young

The roots for the website can be traced to survey data Tom Albright has been collecting about migrating birds at Monticello Park. Starting in 2005, Tom has counted migrant birds at the park virtually every day between March 1 and June 1, and again from August 1 to November 1. He takes vacation from his job during the peak weeks of the spring bird migration so that he can spend all day at the park.

When birders found out about Tom's survey, some asked if he would email the daily bird sightings to them, which he did. In 2012, Bill offered to send out the emails on days Tom took vacation from work. At first, Bill simply sent out Tom's numbers. 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. Thanks also go to Lisa Shannon, Ariel Harwick, Gemma Radko, and Gavin Shire for offering comments about the draft of the website.

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.

Contributors

Site Design

• Ashley Bradford

Text Content

• William Young
• Ashley Bradford
• Eric Dinerstein

Editing

• Ashley Bradford
• William Young
• Patrick Newcombe

Bird Migration Statistics

• Tom Albright

Photographs and Videos

• William Higgins
• Michael Pollack
• Ashley Bradford
• William Young
• William Hohenstein
• Carol Jean Stalun
• Paula Sullivan
• Edward Eder
• Lori Price
• Sharon Lynn

Links to works by Contributors

Ashley Bradford

• Photographs on Flickr
• Photographs used by BirdsEye
• A selection of bug photos
• Illustrations and other works on Behance

William Young

• Book: The Fascination of Birds: From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat
• Book: Cuma's Voice: An Environmental Utopia
Videos
Photographs

Eric Dinerstein

• Book: The Kingdom of Rarities
• 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
Essays

William Higgins

Photographs

Michael Pollack

Videos

William Hohenstein

Videos
Photographs

Carol Jean Stalun

Photographs

Paula Sullivan

Photographs

Edward Eder

Photographs