Sunday, January 09, 2011

Omigawd it's cold--wait, was that a catbird?

My friend Renee and I had arranged to go birding this morning so she could try out my old scope with an eye to buying it. This had seemed like a good idea earlier in the week when we had planned it. Last night, when it was heading to 20 degrees F, it seemed less so. But, given our history of birding together, somehow appropriate. (Renee and I always do a Christmas Bird Count together. Some years, it's the only birding we do together. Last year, it was in the 'teens for the CBC and there was a foot and a half of snow on the ground. This year's CBC seemed balmy, being just under 30. Fred thinks we're both loony.)

So, when Renee arrived this morning promptly at 8:30, we packed the gear in the boot of her Prius and duly headed off to the Jackson Abbott Wildlife Refuge, a little park about five minutes away on Ft. Belvoir's piece of the local wetlands. Despite it being 24 degrees.

It was a short walk through the woods from the parking past the small frozen pond to the wetlands Not surprisingly, no one else was at Jackson Abbott. None of the usual dogwalkers, fishermen or friendly winos were there. Can't imagine why.

There used to be a platform to allow one to study the wetlands, but at some point this summer it was burned rather completely by vandals. Renee and I set up next to the remains of the platform. Here's Renee trying out the scope with the wetlands in front of her and the platform's skeleton next to her. (Click on either pic for a full sized, higher resolution view.)

In between bouts of shivering, we had a pretty good hour of birding:

golden-crowned kinglet in some pine trees to our left
two red shouldered hawks across the wetlands, digiscoped below:

an obliging song sparrow
a downy woodpecker
several white throated sparrows
many juncos
a crow
the ubiquitous canada geese, titmice and chickadees
blue jays (heard but not seen)

and the bird of the day as we walked back around the pond--a catbird, which Renee first spied in a brush with a bunch of sparrows but which I saw too. We are on the far western edge of the catbird's winter range, so that's a pretty good sighting!

(Renee, did I leave anything out?)

Our fingers were numb so we called it a day! I was hoping for some bluebirds, we see them often around the pond, but I'll have to settle for yesterday's sightings in our neighborhood.

-- Posted from my iPad!

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