Saturday, July 15, 2006

Field Trip: Kenilworth

On Saturday, July 15, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in northeast Washington celebrated its annual Waterlily Festival and Founders Day. The festival included traditional Asian music and dance, food, a photography exhibit, and displays by local conservation organizations, including the DC Audubon Society. Today I led a short bird walk for the society to contribute to the occasion.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens / image via Google Earth

Three birders joined me this afternoon to look for birds around the gardens. Since it was already midday, our prospects were limited, but we set off eagerly to find what we could. Common Yellowthroats, which breed throughout the gardens, sang constantly, but stayed tucked out of sight in the shade. An Indigo Bunting sang boisterously near the boardwalk. Unlike the yellowthroats, the bunting perched out in the open and allowed all of us to have a good look at it. One Great Egret watched the marsh from the top of a snag. Tree and Barn Swallows coursed over the waters in search of insects. On the way back towards the entrance, we could hear a White-eyed Vireo singing. Two Eastern Kingbirds engaged in a territorial melee.

By midsummer, most birds have ceased or reduced their singing, so that they become much harder to find. Luckily for naturalists, butterflies and dragonflies become more apparent at this time of year. We saw Monarchs and Viceroys, a possible Mourning Cloak, and a large Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Dragonflies were also plentiful; these included Eastern Amberwings, Eastern Pondhawks, Common Whitetails, and Slaty Skimmers.

Birds observed:

Great Egret
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Fish Crow
White-eyed Vireo
Common Yellowthroat
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird