Sunday, July 30, 2006

Summer Lull

I have not been birding much in the last few weeks, partly because of time but mainly because of the heat and humidity. DC birding tends not to be all that exciting this time of year anyway since the birds do not like this any more than we do. Not having any atlasing responsibilities I am free to take time off from birding now and then. Today I did venture out for a morning walk at the National Arboretum, where I had not walked in quite some time.

The birds were mostly quiet, and then ones I saw were all pretty common at this location. However I did have some close encounters with common species that made up for the lack of variety. I came close to ruby-throated hummingbirds twice, once in the herb garden and once at the entrance to fern valley. In the first case I turned the corner on a path and the hummer buzzed right past me. At the same spot, I saw a gray catbird drinking from a water fountain at close range. A picture of the scene is below. American robin fledglings were out en masse; the speckled white breasts can make them look like other thrushes to the naked eye (until binoculars correct the mistake). A few indigo buntings (like the one above) are still singing.

Catbirds need to drink, too

Today the dragonflies were more apparent than the birds. I found some black saddlebags flying around in the columns area. The field near the hollies and magnolias had ruby meadowhawks, which were a first for me. The most active spot was Heart Pond, which had several species along its edges. Here I found the great blue skimmer, slaty skimmer, blue dasher, and common green darner.

All told, it was a typical midsummer outing. Despite the relative birding lull, I would rather be out walking and watching than sitting inside.


Canada Goose
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
American Robin
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Fish Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
American Goldfinch
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Common Grackle


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Clouded Sulphur


Common Green Darner
Eastern Pondhawk
Slaty Skimmer
Common Whitetail
Great Blue Skimmer
Blue Dasher
Ruby Meadowhawk
Black Saddlebags