Sunday, April 09, 2006

Birding on a Beautiful Sunday

After yesterday's steady rain and gray skies, today's sunshine was a great relief. The sky was blue, the air was cool, and there were lots of birds around - a great combination. I headed over to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens as soon as I got up this morning, and then followed that up with a short trip to Anacostia Park.

I was greeted at the entrance to Kenilworth with a smattering of bird song. One ruby-crowned kinglet sang its complex twittering song near the gate while white-throated sparrows sang "Poor Sam Peabody" here and there. One unfamiliar song caught my attention; when I turned to look for the singer, I spotted a Louisiana waterthrush about fifteen feet up in a cypress. The ponds held three members of the heron family: great blue heron, great egret, and snowy egret. Snowy egrets are not that common in D.C. and only appear during migration.

When I reached the boardwalk, I was treated to a quick succession of hawks: a calling red-shouldered hawk, a soaring red-tailed hawk, and a young bald eagle with crows in pursuit. As I watched the red-tail turn, I caught sight of four birds flying north in a loose line - common loons! At the observation decks I sat and watched and listened for a while. As I was getting ready to leave, three Wilson's snipe flew in and settled on the mud flats. It was great to be able to watch them and examine their plumage instead of trying to catch them in flight, which is usually the way I see them.

On the first half of the river trail, the birds were joined in song by chorusing spring peepers. I believe this is the first time I have heard them this spring due to the lack of rain. Further along, I ran into a flock of palm warblers. Normally I will see one or two of this species at a time; today I saw about a dozen darting back and forth across the path. At least one was singing. At the end of the river trail I found my first barn swallows and chimney swifts of the year as they cruised over the mudflats with tree and northern rough-winged swallows. Some of the swallows appeared to be chasing the swifts, but that may just have been coincidental.

At Anacostia Park I hoped to find some migrant gulls and terns. One caspian tern was among a group of ring-billed gulls on a sandbar near the railroad bridge. Other than that the park was not all that birdy. Oddly enough there were no great black-backed gulls to be seen today. As some species are moving in, other species are departing.


Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Wilson's Snipe
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
American Herring Gull
Caspian Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird


Clouded Sulphur