Saturday, February 17, 2007

GBBC Day 2: National Arboretum

Today I counted birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count at the National Arboretum. One may object that the Arboretum is not my backyard, but the name of the count is not meant to be restrictive. I got a late start, but still managed to cover most of my usual areas.

The snow that fell on Tuesday and Wednesday is still present, but now it is covered with impenetrable ice. The icy conditions made it difficult to venture off the roadways, so I was not able to cover some birdy areas as thoroughly as I would have liked. For example, I did not venture into the Azalea Garden or Fern Valley, and I did not risk the steep trails of the Asian Gardens. Most water was frozen over, except for a few fast-running streams. The frozen water includes the Anacostia River, which was frozen across.

One of my goals today was to find the great horned owls that I had seen there before. Unfortunately, their roost was one of the areas made most inaccessible by ice. After slipping a couple times and then falling flat on my face, I decided to move on and look for other birds. A kestrel, seen near the columns, made up for missing the owls. Other good sightings included a brown thrasher and a yellow-bellied sapsucker near the Asian Gardens, cedar waxwings near Heart Pond, and field sparrows near the columns. Somehow, two belted kingfishers have managed to survive several weeks of freezing temperatures. This was the first visit to the Arboretum this year when I have not seen any eastern phoebes. I hope that they moved south rather than perishing. Robins, of course, were in their usual large winter flocks.

I ended up seeing just a few species short of what we saw on the Christmas Bird Count in the Arboretum. Here is my report from today:

Turkey Vulture1
Cooper's Hawk1
Red-tailed Hawk1
American Kestrel1
Ring-billed Gull20
Rock Pigeon50
Belted Kingfisher2
Red-bellied Woodpecker5
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker1
Downy Woodpecker2
Northern Flicker3
Pileated Woodpecker3
Blue Jay20
American Crow35
Fish Crow3
Carolina Chickadee4
Tufted Titmouse8
White-breasted Nuthatch9
Carolina Wren10
Eastern Bluebird9
American Robin350
Northern Mockingbird9
Brown Thrasher1
European Starling25
Cedar Waxwing7
Eastern Towhee6
Field Sparrow4
Song Sparrow2
White-throated Sparrow90
Dark-eyed Junco90
Northern Cardinal21
American Goldfinch18

As of now, D.C. is up to 45 species and 2,598 individuals on 21 checklists for the GBBC. Track updated results here. A map with the distribution of reports is below. It is still rather northwest-heavy.