Sunday, July 17, 2005

Trip Report: National Arboretum

This morning I took the bus up to the National Arboretum to try to get in a walk before the day became oppressive. During this past week, it has been difficult to muster the energy to go birding since the temperature has been pushing 90 almost every day, while the humidity has been around 80%. And then there have been threatening clouds almost every day. But this morning I did go out.

The birds on the whole were a bit quieter than the last time I visited the arboretum. House wrens, some northern cardinals, eastern towhees, red-eyed vireos, indigo buntings, and wood thrushes were still singing. A few other species were vocalizing, but using contact calls instead of their songs. Even the red-shouldered hawk refrained from its usual screaming and general carrying-on.

On a day like today, the birds tend to be harder to find, so I have started to pay more attention to the butterflies that sit and fly out in the open. I am slowly learning the species that can be found in this area. Cabbage whites, of course, are ubiquitous, and clouded sulphurs are quite common, too. I was surprised to see tiny spring azures fluttering in one of the large fields; somehow I had the idea that they only appeared early in the year. Skippers are still giving me trouble. They are the LBJ's of Lepidotera; actually they might be even harder than the avian LBJ's because the colors and patterns are frequently very subtle.

Last time I was at the arboretum, I saw my first yellow-breasted chat. Today I was dismayed to find that the meadow where I saw it had been cleared of vegetation. Even more dismaying was that the area was treated with pesticides. I hope that any birds that were nesting in there managed to get their babies hatched and fledged before that was done.

After the walk, I gladly sat under the A/C vents in the back of the bus on the way home.


Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Red-shouldered Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Acadian Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Crow
Fish Crow
European Starling
Red-eyed Vireo
American Goldfinch
Northern Parula
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Brown-headed Cowbird


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Palamedes Swallowtail
Cabbage White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
American Copper
Spring Azure
Silver-spotted Skipper
Fiery Skipper