I and the Bird

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

DC Weekend Birds

Took a couple of quick trips this weekend to look for migrants: yesterday at the National Arboretum and today at Rock Creek Park.

I wasn't expecting much at the Arboretum; it was cold and grey drizzly and it had been that way for a couple days. Most listserv posts had indicated that the migration had stalled, and so I went hoping to find a bit of fallout, or just get lucky. My first stop was the azalea gardens which, to my surprise, we full of birds. Only problem was they were all robins. And I say that only in the most snobby birder way...there's no problem with robins, I was just hoping for something less common. OK well there was also a veery and a pair of rt hummingbirds, but other than that all way quiet.

I moved over to the Capitol Columns parking lot and looked in vain for the red headed woodpecker that frequents that area. The small field behind the lot, though, which was overgrown with giant sunflowers, appeared to be another fallout point. A huge flock of goldfinches, in all sorts of plumages, were zipping and yelping in the field and in a large bush. Goldfinches are usually kind of a hassle - they're the right size and color to be a whole lot of less common birds - but it was nice to see a huge flock of them. Also, as is common in large flocks, there were a couple other birds joining the group. Most notable of these by far was a worm-eating warbler that I got good looks at as it hopped around in the middle of the bush. Another, larger, bird popped out of the grass and perched in plain view. I was dumbfounded...too big to be a sparrow or goldfinch, yellow with a striped crown and eyeline...? It took me about 10 minutes to ID the bird as a fall-plumage bobolink. First of the year bird for me.
Kate and I didn't show up to Rock Creek Park as early as I'd like, but, hey, sleep is important. On the way into the maintenance yard we saw, without much trouble, a beautiful Canada warbler flitting in a bush. Good start. Some other birders we passed on the way said that things had calmed down quite a bit, but we managed (with the help of a large group of birders working over the maintenance yard) to see a magnolia warbler, a couple common yellowthroats, a great-crested flycatcher, a pileated woodpecker (always a crowd favorite) and my first of the year (believe it or not) broad-winged hawk. The paths back to the parking lot continued to provide good birds, and I had good looks at a black-and-white warbler and a black-throated green. All in all, good couple days.
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