I haven’t been to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge since spring. I’d almost forgotten what a great place this suburban refuge is for spotting birds. Perhaps it is the massive amount of flies that are very adept at finding places to bite you during the summer time.
As I walked the trails at the refuge, a large buck with a large set of antlers jumped about fifteen feet beyond me. I have never seen anything that big so close before (at least not in the Northern Virginia suburbs) and I was stunned. I almost forgot that I had a camera with me as I struggle to see where it went. I saw it again, but instead of taking a picture, I just soaked in the experience of seeing something new. It scampered away quickly. Darn.
Fortunately, the bluebirds still sang. The woodpeckers still pecked. And a few birds that I’ve never spotted before were, surprisingly, within my camera’s view. I’ve been telling myself that even though a bird looks grey or brown, it may be something unfamiliar. When you are learning how to spot birds, one of the worst things to do is assume that if a bird looks like something you’ve seen before, you just ignore it. I am not very good at spotting birds, so imagine my surprise when I looked at the pictures of the small birds and saw a hermit thrush (above) and what I believe is a yellow rumped warbler.
And a white throated sparrow hiding behind leaves.
Of course, why not take pictures of a woodpecker and an Eastern Bluebird?
And fortunately, with the tide low, this ring billed gull was standing in the sand.
The birds are still here. And they are at Huntley Meadows. Just look for bushes laden with berries. Or seed bearing pods.
And with autumn in the air, in the leaves, in the sky (the sun angle is far from its summer heights), the birds remind us that season after season, life is everywhere. And beautiful to behold. In all its forms.
Early fall, it turns out, is one of the best times to go birding in the Washington D.C. area. Birds are migrating to the more temperate climes of the south. The number of birds in the area increases temporarily and birders have a field day trying to find all these birds. Many of the experience birders are enthusiastic about teaching what they know about birds (and photography). Yellow Rumped Warbler? Supposedly, they’re at Huntley Meadows Park at the moment. Can I find them? Umm, not with a lot of help. I need to learn how to recognize them first, without relying on the Merlin App from Cornell.
That aside, it is a lot of fun watching the birds fly around Huntley. There are several variety of woodpeckers hammering away in the woods. Warblers are frittering about. While the ospreys are gone, various hawks are salivating to take advantage of the migration time. Bluebirds abound. I am still working on getting a good picture of a Belted Kingfisher, but with all these birds around, the hours are not nearly enough to enjoy the company of these fantastic creatures.
Most birds maintain their distance from the photographer.
Every one in a while, a bird or two gets close enough to be able to take a detailed photograph.
Time to look for that kingfisher. On the other hand, I hear a warbler, maybe.