This morning I returned to the National Arboretum for the first time in 2006. While still cold, today was much sunnier than yesterday, with only a few puffy clouds. One other birding group (probably from a local club) was working the Asian collection. Since I decided to bypass where they were, I did not walk the river trail, but that gave me time to cover some other areas.
Heart Pond produced little, but as I walked up the road I found a small flock of cedar waxwings and a few house finches in the crab apple trees. Unfortunately the angle of the sun made it difficult to see and identify birds. When I later checked this grove from the other side (where the sun did not interfere), I found a few purple finches mixed in with the house finches. During the winter months purple finches are pretty reliable here in the fruit tree groves.
I scanned both river overlooks, but found nothing to see on the river. The pines on Hickey Hill also produced little of interest. So I moved on down the road. Usually the hemlocks bordering the golf course have some goldfinch and junco action, but today they were quiet. The bushes around the gate were also deserted, or so it seemed. The reason for the silence became clear when a sharp-shinned hawk cruised past.
My last stop was the wood behind the state tree picnic grove. There were not as many blue jays and robins here as in some other parts of the arboretum, so it was easier to find the smaller birds. A faint honking sound announced the presence of a red-breasted nuthatch. I got a good look at it after it flew into one of the scrub pines. As I turned to leave the spot, a brownish bird flew up to a perch above my head - hermit thrush. Both red-breasted nuthatch and hermit thrush had been seen in this area during the Christmas bird count.
On the way back to the bus stop I had another sighting of a sharp-shinned hawk, and, further along, an adult chipping sparrow. While I was waiting for the bus, a Carolina wren postured on the other side of the road.
SPECIES SEEN: 33