Thursday, May 03, 2007

Birding on the national mall

I was in Washington, DC last week on business so I took an opportunity to spend Wednesday afternoon walking around on the National Mall to do some birding. I had done my homework to find out where the birding hotspots were in the area, and the mall near the Lincoln Memorial was on the list. That was great, because it's so easy to get to the area via the Metro from where I was staying.

The information I got off the web said to go to 19th and Constitution and enter the garden there by the pond. Ooops! What pond? It's under construction right now and it was a big, muddy mess. It didn't smell all that nice, either.

It's kind of hard to see waterfowl and other birds attracted to water when the pond has been drained and there are heavy trucks and dozers mucking about.

However, it didn't seem to phase a lot of the birds. Here are some ring-billed gulls.

A Bonaparte's Gull in full breeding plumage.

This Spotted Sandpiper seemed pretty content to walk about on the edge of the mud.

I had a good view of it as it flew from one edge to the other.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a green heron fly in to check out the muck.

Fish crows took advantage of the mud and trash to gather material for a nest.

I went from the pond over to the grassy mall, and especially explored the edges where the trees and shrubs are pretty dense. I saw quite a few different types of sparrows, including this Savannah Sparrow,

and Chipping Sparrow.

Throughout this area of the mall I had the company of a hermit thrush.

I like this species - it has a lot of personality, and it's fun to watch.

Their songs are also beautiful to hear.

This was a treat - a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I'd not seen one before and this one obliged by landing very near me to give me a good look at it.

I did some sight-seeing as well. This is Glenda Goodacre's sculpture for the Women's Vietnam Memorial.

Here's the one most people come to visit. Everytime I've come to this memorial I've felt sad about the losses we incurred due to political decisions. Kind of reminds me of today's scenarios, but don't get me started on that topic. . .

A mourning dove - how appropriate to the sentiments I felt that day.

A European Starling in full breeding plumage. I can't believe someone introduced this nuisance bird to Central Park in New York so that Americans could have the birds of Shakespeare. There has to be a special place in Hell for this kind of thoughtless stupidity.

Here's a nice view of the national mall - the Washington Monument and our nation's capitol in the background.

The Lincoln Memorial.

World War I memorial, tucked away on the south side of the mallway.

The garden next to this memorial had two Brown Thrashers throwing the leaves around in their search for goodies to eat.

I went over to the tidal basin for the last bit of my walk. The Jefferson Memorial is across the basin from the mall and I had intended to walk around the entire area.

Mallard ducklings were cute to see. There were several more out of the frame of this image.

This is an example of how not to drive, and the reason I didn't get to finish my walk around the tidal basin. The emergency vehicles, traffic snarl, and news reporters completely blocked the path. So, I called it a day and hiked over to the Smithsonian Metro station to catch a ride back to my hotel.

This was the last bird of the day for me. It's usually very difficult to identify a bird from this AHV (- the particular anatomical perspective). . .

If it's singing, you can identify it by song.

If you get to see the entire bird, it's easy to identify it as a Northern Mockingbird.

I did enjoy my birding afternoon, and it was good to have that time before settling into a couple of long days sitting in a room with a group of scientists.

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