Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hughes Hollow

This morning I attended DC Audubon's field trip to Hughes Hollow. Located in Montgomery County, MD, near the C&O Canal, Hughes Hollow is a wildlife management area that consists of manmade lakes and wetlands, forests, and fields. The diverse habitats draw a diverse array of wildlife, including many bird species that are more difficult to find in the District.

Tree swallows were back, and somehow managed to find food despite the subfreezing overnight temperatures. Actually the cold spell has not been all that bad, since afternoon temperatures have consistently risen into the 50s. It was warm enough for at least one butterfly - one of the commas - to fly today. If butterflies are flying, I am sure that many smaller insects were flying today as well.

The first dike that leads into the refuge turned out to have some of our best sightings for the day. Rusty blackbirds were croaking from the bushes along the dike, along with the more common red-winged blackbirds. The impoundment on the east side held ring-necked ducks, northern shovelers, and Wilson's snipe, while the ones to the west held wood ducks, green-winged teal, and blue-winged teal. It was a joy to see the two teal species because I rarely see either of those around town.

Back in the forest and meadow areas we turned up various songbirds, including red-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, and eastern bluebird. The refuge was very good for hawks - including two bald eagles flying together - and for woodpeckers, including pileated and sapsucker. A birding couple alerted us to the presence of a hermit thrush.

Because it is part of the McKee-Beshers wildlife management area, Hughes Hollow is open for hunting from fall through spring. Therefore it is advisable for non-hunting visitors to go there on a Sunday, or find out ahead of time what might be happening on other days of the week. This year, turkey hunting season extends well into May. Even today, when there was nominally no hunting, there was a dog-training session going on, which forced us to modify our birding route.


Pied-billed Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Wilson's Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle