Saturday, January 14, 2006

Windy Birding at the National Mall

This afternoon I decided to investigate what kind of birds were appearing on the far end of the National Mall. I picked one wild day to do it. A cold front, accompanied by rain, had passed through overnight and put an end to the balmy weather we had had all week. In its wake, were were left with very strong winds - about as strong as we ever get around here. How strong was the wind? Strong enough to rip flags off the flagpoles near the Washington Monument. (Update: The Post has more on the windstorm.)

I started out by walking around part of the Tidal Basin. Only gulls were in the water. Some holly trees near the FDR memorial contained a large flock of American robins. There were accompanied by a smaller group of cedar waxwings . Some hardy waxwings braved the wind to perch out on the bare cherry trees, but even these had to retire to the relative comfort of the hollies.

The Potomac also had very few birds. One flock of lesser scaup rode the waves about halfway down towards the Memorial Bridge, but that was all. One bufflehead passed overhead as I walked on. It landing in the river could hardly be described as graceful since the wind knocked it down as it circled for a landing.

Likewise, Constitution Gardens had few smaller birds visible. However, there was a large flock of Canada geese and mallards around the island in the middle of the pond. With them was a single American coot and a small flock of buffleheads. The other individual must have come from here. While there were not many species to be seen here, I did get some close-up shots of mallards, and some dramatic images of the sky.


Great Blue Heron

Canada Goose


Lesser Scaup


Ring-billed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Rock Pigeon

Cedar Waxwing

Northern Mockingbird

American Robin

American Crow

European Starling

House Sparrow

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