Well Kate left this morning and I found myself with some time on my hands. Considered an offer to go watch basketball with some friends off the Courthouse Metro, but I figured by the time I got over there the game would be over (although I probably should have gone just to celebrate the GMU victory. DC is popping tonight...while the rest of the country is mourning their destroyed brackets. Including me) and plus I had a lot of bachelor things to do...laundry being the most important.
Anyway, I thought I would take an hour or two and go to the Anacostia Park to look for some new birds, namely the Caspian Terns that have been reported there. There are also Lesser-Blacked Backed gulls and Peregrine Falcons in the area, so I felt that my chances were good of seeing something new. The park itself is pretty cool. Long and thin, it stretches the entire southern shore of the Anacostia as it runs from swampland (Kenilworth [Kenelworth? I've seen it spelled several different ways...] Aquatic Gardens included) down to the Potomac. There are lots of green areas, several fields filled with soccer-playing youngsters and places to fish and relax by the water (which, unfortunately, looks pretty polluted and trashy).
There are also a lot of birds, seagulls mostly. I got a lot of good views of seagulls and cormorants in the river and on the far shore from the road and its many pull-outs. Wasn't seeing much, though, mostly Ring-Bills and Herrings. I went as far up-river as I could go (to the parking lot near the railroad bridge) when I saw a large black-headed gull in the water. I knew right away that I had never seen this species before, as it was much larger than a Bonaparte's, and the dark underwings and glint of a red bill gave it away as a Laughing Gull. Pretty good bird to start things off.
On my way to the other end of the park I saw a large raptor soar just over the trees and immediately saw it an Osprey, another good bird, I thought, this close to the city. Another fly-by, this time in front of the Park HQ, was a red-shouldered hawk.
About ready to leave, I turned out of the large gravel dump (or something, I dont know what it is) at the southern end of the park. The terns were last seen at a "gravel area" and I assumed that this was it, but they weren't around. Just as I was leaving, though, a large bird with a pointed tail flew overhead. I looked at first glance like a gannet, but didn't have the right colors. I stopped quickly and got my binoculars up in time to get a good look at a Caspian Tern, another first for me. I was very surprised at just how big this bird was, bigger than most gulls.
Good times at Anacostia Park, I'll make sure to head back sometime to finally find a Lesser-Black Backed Gull or to look for that Neotropic Cormorant if it ever shows up again. For now, though, I'm happy with two new birds and some clean laundry.