Monday, June 26, 2006

Birds on the Mall

Early this morning I took a walk on the Mall while there was a substantial lull in the torrential rains that have been falling on the District. As I often do, I walked over to the National Museum of the American Indian to check out what was going on the marsh. The vegetation there has become so lush that one can imagine being outside of the city.

Well, it takes more than a little imagination to forget the location. Though it is hidden from view by the dense foliage, there is a street close by with regular traffic, and the noise is hard to avoid. Still, the marsh has become very appealing. It has been planted with multiple species of aquatic or semi-aquatic plants. I do not pretend to be an expert on such things, but in the marsh itself I have picked out cattails, wild rice, water lilies, and a plant that resembles arum (except with purple flowers). And that is not counting the trees and various plants along the banks. It has turned out to be a delightful little spot. The birds like it, too.

Red-winged blackbirds appear to be breeding here. I have seen them in the garden repeatedly over the past few weeks. Last week, on one visit I saw a female red-winged blackbird feeding a youngster. She was walking around on the lilypads, carefully stepping from one to another. Every so often she would stop and look under one. Finally she found what she was looking for and carried the prey up to feed her fledgling, which was perched on a cattail stalk.

Rock pigeons, of course, are at home all over the Mall. The bird above is a variant form. While most rock pigeons are slate-gray, many come in a variety of whites, browns, blacks, and grays that differ from the standard model.

Even though the sun broke through briefly, you can see the storm clouds already rolling in for the next wave of rain.

Update: From the Post:

By midnight last night, a total of 9.94 inches of rain had fallen at Reagan National Airport in the two days since midnight Saturday. That was believed to be the highest rainfall figure recorded there for any two consecutive calendar days. The 7.09 inches of rain recorded at the airport in the 24-hour period from 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. yesterday is second only to the 7.19 inches recorded when remnants of Hurricane Agnes passed through the region in June 1972.
A Feel Good Production has pictures from a flooded Rock Creek.