I and the Bird

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Finally Sunday

After a rainy, windy Saturday (and a long and hazy Saturday night) I woke up on Sunday ready to get outside and find some birds. Reports of spring migrants were fresh in my head, and I planned to hit the best three local DC spots to find them: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for Northern Rough-Winged Swallows, the Arboretum for Palm Warblers and Huntley Meadows to find the Little Blue Heron that was seen there.

Since it was about noon before I actually left the house (c'mon I was out late...) I figured I would wait until dusk to look for warblers at the Arboretum and instead headed across the river to KAG. It was a gorgeous day: bright sun, easy breeze and not a cloud in the sky.

The parking lot was loud with bird activity, but nothing out of the ordinary save a few late cedar waxwings. Wandering through the ponds I watched a Belted Kingfisher hunting from a tree. A Great Egret, my first of the year, flew lazily overhead. In fact, the laziness of the park affected me...so did my headache...and I relented to the warmth by taking a nap on the boardwalk steps overlooking the cattail marsh.

A half-hour later, somewhat refreshed, I woke up and walked to the main pond. Just as I hoped, swallows were everywhere. Trees were most common, but I easily picked out my first ever Northern Rough-Winged Swallows and a single Barn Swallow (John from A DC Birding Blog was apparently also at KAG that day and picked out some Bank Swallows in the mix...). There were some waders I could at the far end of the pond, closer to the end of the river trail, but I wanted to see the Little Blue Heron at Huntley Meadows so I cut short my trip and headed out.

It took me forever to get there. Forever. I was in the wrong lane on Route 1 when it split off without warning and shot me across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Because I don't know the roads I had to do a big loop all the way back to East Capitol Street...a nice solid hour of driving. Afterwards the brutal traffic on lower Route 1 and a sign reading mistake (I thought "next signal" meant "next as in the one after this" not "immediately next") left me a screaming menace on the road (I get pretty frustrated when lost...).

Finally I got to Huntley Meadows and all was well. I didn't get the Heron I was looking for, but I did spot a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, a new bird for me, cowering in the reeds at the start of the boardwalk. Also off the main pool were close-up looks at a Snipe, some GW Teal and my third new bird of the day, a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Satisfied and tired, I headed back home to watch the Masters finish. I once again forgot that the Arboretum closes at 5 and so missed out on the chance to see warblers singing at dusk. Oh well, it'll give me a goal for next weekend.

New life list: 205 Year: 115 Times I've tried to go to the Arboretum before remembering that it was closed: 4
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Nick - The bank swallow I saw was actually in Anacostia Park and not the KAG. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
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