Sunday, January 15, 2006

National Arboretum Walk

This morning I birded at the National Arboretum. Like yesterday , today was extremely blustery but with even lower temperatures. The wind kept most of the birds down low in the brush, so the only real areas of activity where birds could be seen were inside of woods or on the lee side of hills. The main difference was that the sky was blue and cloudless.

I combed the Asian gardens carefully for any warblers that might have dropped in. Occasionally one will winter here and take advantage of the flowering bushes of the tea family that dot the hillside. No warblers were there, but I did find a hermit thrush. As I worked my way down the path to the river, a falcon - probably, but not certainly, a peregrine - darted overhead and disappeared behind the treeline. At that point I heard a red-tailed hawk's scream and a pileated woodpecker's call in short succession. The pileated flew overhead one way and then back the other way, while two red-tails wheeled above the river.

Neither of these species was apparent when I got to the riverbank. (The Anacostia, by the way, seemed abnormally low this morning.) I noticed two large dark birds circle low and land in a tree by the bank - bald eagles! These were adults with fully white heads and tails. Also in the river were a pair of hooded mergansers and a pied-billed grebe.

With the wind as strong as it was, I felt my remaining time would be better spent in fern valley - a low-lying wooded area rather than some other spots I normally visit. The birds there were a common mix of chickadees, titmice and cardinals, with a few golden-crowned kinglets mixed in. One stump along the path was overgrown with finely-detailed fungi. One example is given below.

Pied-billed Grebe
Canada Goose
Hooded Merganser
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
Fish Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Eastern Towhee
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird

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