July 1, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Birding in Huntley "Meadows"

On my way back from Washington yesterday, I stopped at one of the real natural treasures of Northern Virginia: Huntley Meadows. It's actually a lush wetland, surrounded by woods, hence the quotation marks above, suggesting a misnomer. I had been there once before, back in the 1980s, and I distinctly recall seeing what I believe was an American Bittern. It was hiding in tall sedges (grass-like vegetation), pale brownish overall with dark vertical streaks and a long bill. So, I was hoping I might find either an American Bittern or a Least Bittern, but the lady at the desk said neither species nests there at present. It's possible that what I saw back then was just an immature Green Heron.

Anyway, I spent a couple hours walking along the boardwalk, and was enchanted by the beautiful surroundings, with all sorts of birds and wild animals -- all within a mile of heavily developed suburban real estate! I was happy to see a Great Egret, but sad that I couldn't get close enough for a good photo. An Osprey kept circling overhead close to the observation tower, which is also where I saw the Hummingbird and one of the Common Yellowthroats. At that tower I met a guy (last name Rieger?) who knows John Spahr and Allen Larner from birding encounters, and was pleased to find out that he is a big Washington Nationals fan, working at Nationals Park as an usher. (I had just seen a game there the night before.) The list below shows the more significant birds I saw:

I also heard but did not see an Eastern Wood Pewee, Indigo Buntings, some kind of warbler (Prothonotary?), and a probable Red-tailed Hawk in the woods. I also saw a White-tailed Deer, Painted Turtles, Snapping Turtles, and a Bullfrog -- one of many that were making loud noises.

Montage 30 Jun 2016

CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: Osprey, Common Yellowthroat, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Great Egret, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron. To see larger-size images, go to the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.

Huntley Meadows boardwalk from tower

The boardwalk at Huntley Meadows, as seen from the observation tower. On the both the left and right sides, beaver lodges can be seen.