Friday, May 26, 2006

Birds at the Kenilworths

Early on this muggy morning I set off for the two Kenilworths - the Park and the Aquatic Gardens to see if any new migrants had moved in since my last visit there on the Birdathon. I was also curious to see if the birds reported earlier in the week were still around. The short answer is no. The rest of this post is the longer explanation.

I checked the "back area" of Kenilworth Park first. As I approached, a large raptor-type bird flushed from the treeline near the barrier. Unfortunately I did not see where it landed so I could not get a positive identification. But the manner of flight and overall shape of the bird make me think that this was an owl, probably a barred owl. Its tail was very short - shorter than one would expect for a hawk - while its wings were relatively long and its body appeared kind of chunky. The feathers of the tail appeared to be flecked with white. I did not get a look at the head since it flushed away from me.

Elsewhere in the back area, a killdeer was doing a distraction display; I did not see a nest, but presume there was one nearby. Two blue grosbeaks were singing, and I got a look at both of them. In addition to the grosbeaks, several indigo buntings chased each other around. It was a visual feast of blue. A field sparrow sang near the barriers.

The no-mow area held more buntings and grosbeaks. It also turned up some large flocks of starlings. Sadly, no bobolinks appeared today. However, there was one eastern meadowlark, which has persisted at the park. I saw it as it was chased by a red-winged blackbird. It was a flash of brown and yellow before disappearing into a convenient bush.

At the Aquatic Gardens, most birds were quiet, even if they were there. The most persistent singers today were the prothonotary warblers - two on the river trail and one in the ponds area. They sang loudly and repetitively. I got a look at two of them, one of which appeared to be carrying food (to a nest?). These birds really are a wonder with their bright yellow heads and bodies.

The tide was high so few shorebirds were around. I am not sure there are even many passing through this year, because very few sightings have been reported. Their normal high tide hangouts like Kenilworth Park and Anacostia Park have been very dry because of the lack of rain. Perhaps that is keeping them away.

Does anyone know of a good online guide for identifying wetland vegetation? I found this useful site, but it is limited in scope. Most online sources that I know about split between wildflowers and trees, with little else. If you know of something please leave a comment.


Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Canada Goose
American Kestrel
Spotted Sandpiper
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl ?
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cedar Waxwing
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
American Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
White-eyed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Goldfinch
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Scarlet Tanager
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird