Sunday, February 12, 2006

Arboretum in the Snow

This afternoon I headed over to the National Arboretum for a bird walk. Though I had been there yesterday, I wanted to go back and see it while the snow was still fresh. I had seen the gardens with snow before, but not with fresh snow. Today the fields were beautiful; it was like a landscape transformed.

I started out near the Capitol columns. The road directly behind them that leads deeper into the Arboretum was blocked by a fallen tree. Field sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and other birds took advantage of the lack of traffic by foraging among the remains of the tree in the road; I took advantage of the lack of traffic by standing in the middle of the road and watching them. One mourning dove walking around on the road looked like it had injured its wing, but then flew off normally, so perhaps the wing was just folded awkwardly.

Snow started falling again, and the wind picked up as I walked the road leading towards Hickey Hill. All birds must have hunkered down at this point because I did not see any more for quite some time. I saw that the flowering trees I had mentioned last week were now covered with snow, and one had a snowman in front of it. The pines at the top of the hill were especially lovely. The layer of snow brought out the shapes of each tree; the individual shapes are sometimes easy to miss when the needles and trunks blend with one another.

Towards the end of my walk, I headed back towards the woods where I had tried for a red-headed woodpecker yesterday. This time I did find it, perched near the top of a bare tree. It sat out for a long time. I think this bird may have been hatched last year, because there seemed to be a bit of brown left on its head, but that may just have been the angle of the light. As I was leaving I spotted a merlin on the same perch where I saw one yesterday.

Some more pictures of the snow-covered Arboretum follow. Some of these are almost like black-and-white photographs because of the light and the contrast.


Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
European Starling
American Goldfinch
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal