I and the Bird

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mall Shopping

Trying to find a place to look for birds after work while the sun is still out has so far been a problem. The two most reliable locations, the National Arboretum and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, close before I leave the office. I thought all was lost until I saw a message on VA-BIRD that someone had seen (among other birds) a Northern Parula and a Palm Warbler right on the Mall. The Mall! That's right near me!

So at 6 I took off toward the Washington Monument scanning the trees as I went. Let me tell you, it looks promising. One of the reasons I like DC so much is that it's a very green city, especially the Capital Hill area. The Mall is lined with large trees on both sides. On the other side of the street are sculpture gardens, fountains and intricate arboreal displays (like at the National Gallery). Aside from a Cardinal, there were no extraordinary birds, though.

After the Washington Monument is where things really get good. I'm not sure if it's called Constitutional Gardens or the German-American Peace Gardens or what, but the area between the reflecting pool and the Vietnam Memorial is great habitat. I believe this is where the warblers were seen today, and I kept my eyes open (all I had was my eyes, unfortunately, no binocs). Two American Coots were in the pond. Three Chipping Sparrows by the woman's military statue (I'm not sure what it is exactly). A ragged blue jay. Several times I saw warbler-shaped birds passing through, but a combination of sharp light and lack of binoculars prevented ID.

The best bird of the day was a mistaken ID. Walking towards the reflecting pool from the women's statue I just mentioned I saw a flash of rusty red. The bird landed on the ground in front of me, partially obscured by a tree, but giving a nice view of a streaked breast and a red back. Finally I've seen a Fox Sparrow, I thought. Nay. The bird hopped forward and revealed itself as a Brown Thrasher. Still a good bird, and my first of the year, but not what I had hoped.

Regardless, the place looks promising. I'm glad I've found such good habitat so close to my work. I'll be back.
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Location: Portland, ME

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