Early Autumn in Northern Virginia

With birds continuing to migrate southward in search of warmer climes, the number of birds in local birding hotspots have increased dramatically from their summer lulls.  The larger birds, such as the osprey, egrets and herons, many of whom made the mid Atlantic their home in the warmth of summer, have left or will soon be leaving.  Gone are the ospreys, the green herons, the little blue herons.  There are egrets and Great Blue herons milling about, but they too are diminishing in numbers.  The hummingbirds have fueled up for their trip south as well.  In a few days, these fleet flyers will be but a summer memory.

The warblers are back, at least for a few weeks.  The fall foliage makes finding these birds even more difficult for novice (or inexperienced) birders such as myself.  You will hear the rustling of leaves, a chirp or some other sound that betrays their presence, but even with such clues, fall colors meld with the faded colors of these birds.  Still, the challenge and enjoyment of finding these birds are undiminished.  The number of birding groups in the local nature preserves increase dramatically in the spring and fall migration season.  There is something calming about birds – a perfect tonic to the busy life we live in urban and suburban America.

I visited Huntley Meadows three times in the last four days.  The last vestiges of summer, in the form of an upsurge of warmer temperatures, have drawn out a bevy of revelers in the outdoor venues.  Children with their parents, their classmates on field trips – the happy noise brings a different life to the naturally quiet places that are in diminishing numbers in an urbanized America.  To hear a child exclaim their surprise in seeing a frog, a bird, a flower, a fallen leaf is to understand that within us all, it is this sense of wonder that must survive and thrive if we are to remain vibrant in mind and spirit.

Winter will soon be here.  The kingfishers will remain, as long as the waters do not freeze over.  The bald eagles roam the riverside.  The shovelers, the mallards, mergansers will be sharing the preserves with those of us walking the boardwalks in the frozen winds that will soon come.  Autumn leaves are falling.  In the changing season, the endurance of life is in full display.

DSC08694_s

DSC08778_sDSC08779_s

Advertisements

Fall Migration

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.

Eastern Bluebird

DSC08627_s

Eastern Phoebe

DSC08542_s

House Wren

DSC08608_s

Time to look for that kingfisher.  On the other hand, I hear a warbler, maybe.