During the day this past Friday, I had some time to kill while waiting to
meet up with a friend for a concert in DC that evening. I decided to spend
the day birding some of the smaller cities and counties in NoVa.
I started with Falls Church, which I had only birded once before and had a
rather paltry 12-species list for. My first stop was Isaac Crossman Park,
which is mostly in Falls Church but straddles the border with Arlington Co.
I ran into a woman walking her dog who asked me if I had seen the Barred
Owl that is often in the park. After birding the park without running into
it, I decided to try hooting for the bird. There was no immediate response,
but I happen to turn and look over my shoulder just in time to see the owl
sail over and land in a tree. As I was exiting the park, it began hooting
and I went back to the spot and was pleased to find that it had moved into
Arlington. Other than the owl, there was little of note at Isaac Crossman,
though I did add 13 birds to my Falls Church list. I was also pleasantly
surprised by the quality of the habitat at this park, and feel that it has
potential as a migrant trap.
After this, I hit a few smaller city parks to fill in some gaps in my list.
Cherry Hill Park and West End Park were both good for a few new city birds,
but didn't yield anything unexpected.
From here, I moved on to the City of Fairfax, which I had the pleasure of
birding on the same day that the mayor was arrested in a meth-for-sex
scandal. My list for this location was only 10, so I had plenty of
low-hanging fruit. Unfortunately, as would be the case for the entire day,
birds were in short supply and mostly silent. I did not even hear so much
as a REVI the entire morning. I visited Van Dyck Park with nothing of
particular note. I also visited a small area called Belle's Bird Sanctuary
Park. While the most exciting bird was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, I do
think this park also has some potential as a migrant trap.
At this point, I decided to abandon city birding in hopes of pushing my
Fairfax County list, then at 76, over 100. I visited Huntley Meadows for
the first time, and very much enjoyed it. The most notable birds were two
Little Blue Herons that have been hanging out for some time. I managed to
pick up 9 county birds here, and one elsewhere, unfortunately ending the
day at only 86. A brief check of the Hunting Creek flats was unproductive.
I did a bit of birding Saturday morning, as well. I spent several hours
hiking the trails at Great Falls with a friend. Birding was not the main
objective, and birds were largely quiet. The most interesting bird was a
Common Raven that we heard calling.
After our hike, I lobbied for a brief detour to Arlington, and we were
rewarded with excellent views of an adult Mississippi Kite at the
intersection of 17th Street and N. Taylor. They have been present there for
several days now, and the location seems like a site where they could
easily have bred.