I and the Bird

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Kenilworth Park

I've read several times in MDOsprey posts about people seeing birds in something called Kenilworth Park. For awhile I figured that they were talking about the grassy areas at the entrance to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, one of my most frequently visited spots. When a Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrows, Orchard Orioles and Blue Grosbeaks were reported from the park, by the 'football fields' no less, I knew I was missing something.

A quick email to Gail Mackiernan straightened me out. It turns out there is a large, grassy park just down the road from KAG, about a 5 minute drive from my house. I took advantage of the cloudless afternoon to go check it out, and hopefully catch a glimpse of some of the aforementioned birds.

I quickly found the park (thanks for the directions, Gail), parked in the first dusty lot and took a look around. The place is huge. On the right side of the road are football fields, probably 5 total, alternating with un-mowed sections of tall grass and shrubs. Behind the tree line, presumably, is the Anacostia. On the other side of the road is carefully mowed grass that leads down to more trees and a small stream. Outstanding habitat all, especially for openfield birds like prairie warblers and savannah sparrows, both of which had been recently reported.

I, unfortunately, wasn't so lucky. I arrived at the park around 630 and the long shadows peeling off the trees must have indicated to the birds that it was time to quiet down. I had hoped to catch the park's residents in full afternoon song, but there was almost no birdnoise apart from a few Canada Goose honks, the Cardinal's droning siren and the melancholy whistle of White-Throated Sparrows.

Off the back of the second parking lot I cornered a group of Savannah Sparrows between myself and the river. The Vespers were reported as being in a group of Savannah's and I was certain I was in the right place, but the birds were just not cooperating. They were overly shy and would flit into the deep woods whenever I tried to get closer. Finally they shot out of the trees and across the park and I lost them. I had IDd three Savannahs, no Vespers.

I continued through the park and to the walk-only area behind the barriers. It looked like superb habitat, but I saw nothing aside from Cardinals, Barn Swallows and a few Grackle flyovers. I headed back to my car a bit disappointed but excited about finding such good habitat so near my house. Maybe it's better in the mornings...
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