Thursday, January 05, 2006

Roosevelt Island

Early this afternoon I visited Roosevelt Island for a bird walk around the marsh and wooded swamp. On a good day in winter one can observe all six local species of woodpeckers. Today was such a good day, as pileated woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and hairy woodpecker made appearances alongside the more commonly seen red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, and northern flicker.

Early on, I turned up a couple brown creepers among the ivy tangles on the western trail. When I reached the marsh (pictured at right), several house finches and some feisty Carolina wrens were there to meet me. One red-winged blackbird - unusual for January in DC - was at the bridge, and a small flock of them was foraging on the other end of the marsh.

Water levels in the marsh and woods were quite high today, thanks to the recent rains. Mallards (pictured below) made the most of the extra water.

Near the northern end of the boardwalk there was another burst of avian activity. It started with the appearance of a yellow-bellied sapsucker, which mewed vociferously. (Yes, this woodpecker does sound a bit like a cat.) Soon the trail was full of sparrows, including a few swamp sparrows. More brown creepers appeared, along with some white-breasted nuthatches. One first-winter eastern phoebe perched on a low branch close to the water. This bird must have come north in the last week or so as insects would have been scarce during the last two weeks of December. Finally, a winter wren popped up from under a branch pile and perched on a fallen log; it stayed up long enough for me to get a good look at its delicately streaked plumage. A little later it sang a short bit of its song, one of my favorite bird songs.

The many fallen logs and overall damp conditions make Roosevelt Island an excellent spot to observe fungi, as well as birds and animals. One example is at right.


Canada Goose
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird