What a beautiful September... I mean, November... day! After several days of flirting with it, temperatures finally surged over 70°F. Hardly a cloud was in the sky, while the trees continued their march toward colored foliage. Though the red oaks have been resisting change, pin oaks have been turning a lovely deep red, and the maples along R St NE have turned a brilliant yellow. Japanese maples near the visitor center were a bright red. One tree in the arboretum stood out for having reddish-purple leaves that looked almost unnatural; as it was a good distance away, I did not figure out the species.
Some birds have become very common since my last trip to the arboretum. Dark-eyed juncos were particularly common - and active - this morning. Their chatter is easily recognizable as they fly from tree to the ground and back again. Blue jays were also in good numbers this morning. I have noticed that at certain times of the year they will appear in large flocks at the arboretum and bully any other birds that happen to be around, whether the other birds are smaller or larger.
Red-breasted nuthatches are still present on Hickey Hill, and this morning there appeared to be a third. Unlike last Sunday, I did not get a very good look this morning, but just enough of one to identify the bird. Instead I got to watch a small group of golden-crowned kinglets flitting from branch to branch in the same area. The Asian gardens held a yellow-bellied sapsucker, my first of the fall for DC.
Later on I found a very upset patch of Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice. One or two will often scold at me when I approach, but this involved a lot more birds, and they were very upset, at least as I inferred from the intensity of their scolding calls. There very well may have been an owl around - probably a screech owl, but I was not able to set eyes upon it, and eventually the scolding stopped. I will need to check that area again in the future.
In the afternoon I tried a new birding spot in northwest, McMillan Reservoir. It is located across 4th Street, NW, from Howard University. A tip had come across the local listserve a week or two back that waterfowl were gathering there, so I decided to check it today. The pied-billed grebe, American coot, ring-necked duck, and the gulls were there. It seems like a good birding site for a quick stop and look around, though the angle of the sun presents a problem. McMillan is a shorter trip for me than the Georgetown Reservoir, and seems to attract a similar group of birds.
The hermit thrush was in a park near my apartment.
SPECIES SEEN: 42
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
American Herring Gull