A beaver-led bird encounter

It’s been a while since I blogged; I guess I am guilty of being lazy.

This past weekend I took a walk along the Potomac Heritage Trail (paralleling the George Washington Memorial Parkway), between Dyke Marsh and Jones Point Park; it was an interesting outing so I decide to break my silence for once to blog on it.

There were thin layers of ice floating on the river on this overcast and wintry day. Except for one Belted Kingfisher, I did not see much at Dyke Marsh itself, but soon something exciting happened — I saw a black torpedo cruising in the river, and as I focused my eyesight (and camera lens; I usually go out and take some pictures), I was surprised to see that this was a beaver! Beavers are more numerous than before in the east after being hunted nearly to extinction in not only the east but almost all of North America. I have seen it but once before (a very brief glimpse at that) in the wild, and this time I followed it for almost a mile along the Potomac River, snapping numerous pictures — quite a thrilling experience.

Beaver

Continuing my walk, I saw some birders intently watching something in the thickets by the trail, binoculars in hand — surely they must have spotted some new or rare birds. It turned out that they found some warblers. At this time of the year in our part of the country, most warblers have migrated south (except for the Yellow-rumped Warblers), so it was unusual to see several species in this location now. Perhaps the warming climate is making them linger longer, or even decide to stay year-round?

In all (at this location and later at Jones Point), we identified 4 species: Pine Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler and Orange-crowned Warbler.

Pine Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet also mixed itself up with the warblers, adding some more liveliness to the scene (it being a very active little bird), and perhaps a bit more confusion as well (the kinglets have similar colors, patterns and behavior as the warblers).

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

There were also several Red-tailed Hawks around there. They are apparently used to the joggers and bicyclists on the trail and totally oblivious of them, which means they would let me get very close to snap some pictures.

Red-tailed Hawk

Any time I get a good picture of a raptor I’d call it a good day; add a beaver and some warblers and I’d call it a great day. The Tennessee Warbler is also a “life bird” for me (my tally is now at 221; though still very modest, this more than doubled from two years ago), this day turned out to be very fruitful indeed.

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