Sunday, February 18, 2007

GBBC Day 3: Potomac Waterfront

Today I ventured down to the Tidal Basin and Hains Point to look for birds. The Tidal Basin was almost completely frozen over, with only a few ring-billed gulls standing on the ice. The Washington Channel was also mostly frozen. It was frozen across in some places, open in others, and partly open with chunks of floating ice in other places. The areas around the boat docks on the far side of the channel were mostly open; these patches held small groups of mallards and coots. Hundreds of the three local gulls huddled in large flocks on the ice. Other waterbirds included a red-breasted merganser on the channel and a dozen lesser scaup on the Potomac. I was surprised to find seven great-blue herons during my walk; they must have fled from other areas in D.C. to find open water. About half way to the point, I saw a merlin perched in a tree. It was quite close to the road and did not flush when I approached. A juvenile bald eagle was perched on the large snag at the end of the golf course, while crows mobbed around it. Not too many songbirds were visible around the park. Most of the songbirds I saw were clustered in a few areas sheltered from the wind.

In the late afternoon I walked over to the Indian Museum to see what was around. Mostly the birds were the same as on Friday, but I did find a couple swamp sparrows in the museum's wetlands area. As I stood to watch them, a snow shower suddenly arrived. The flakes fell so densely that I could not see the Capitol from the Museum. The snow fell furiously, but the shower did not leave much behind.

Checklist from Hains Point and the Tidal Basin:

Canada Goose1,400
Lesser Scaup12
Red-breasted Merganser1
Great Blue Heron7
Bald Eagle1
Red-tailed Hawk1
American Coot6
Ring-billed Gull440
Herring Gull285
Great Black-backed Gull90
Rock Pigeon22
Mourning Dove1
Downy Woodpecker2
Blue Jay4
American Crow25
Fish Crow20
Tufted Titmouse6
Golden-crowned Kinglet1
American Robin40
Northern Mockingbird1
European Starling40
Cedar Waxwing11
Song Sparrow1
White-throated Sparrow4
Dark-eyed Junco3
Northern Cardinal2
House Sparrow35

Checklist from the Indian Museum and Capitol grounds:

Ring-billed Gull40
Downy Woodpecker1
White-breasted Nuthatch1
American Robin25
European Starling65
Swamp Sparrow2
White-throated Sparrow7
House Sparrow12

Birders in Washington, D.C., have now broken the record for species reported for the GBBC in this city. As of 8:30 pm, the count for D.C. stood at 60 species; the record had been 59, set in 2005. That year also set a record for the number of submitted checklists with 51. So far this year, 32 checklists have been submitted, so we are unlikely to reach that record. However, this year will have the highest number of individual birds reported, with 6,216 so far. Below is the distribution map as of Sunday night.