After being woken up early this morning, we decided to make the most of it and go for a birding walk (something we haven’t done in months). We first headed to Lake Artemesia, and kept on driving when we saw a park ranger directing people into the lot and a big sign announcing a fishing event. Bazillions of people fishing with their kids does not for good songbird sighting make. Since it was cool, windy, and early in the season, we opted to give Greenbelt Park another try. We’d heard that it was nice, but were too scared to get out of the car when we were greeted with a huge BEWARE OF LARGE NUMBERS OF TICKS AND CHIGGERS sign at the entrance. The sign was off when we arrived at 8am this morning, which is probably a good thing; when we left around 10am it was again advising people to be alert for ticks (which is a warning we expect in this part of the country). After making a loop of the park, we located the open picnic and parking area and headed off on the Azalea Trail, a 1.1 mile loop (whereon we did not actually see any azaleas, although some of the understory shrubs might have been ones that had already bloomed, it was hard to tell at a distance).
The first bird we spotted was a Yellow-rumped Warbler, quickly followed by a pair of Eastern Towhees. I’ve only seen them a few times before, and it was a new bird for my partner. Further down the trail we then broke our necks craning up into the very tall trees to eventually locate and identify a Red-eyed Vireo, worth the trouble as a new life bird. It was also a bird we were able to confirm via its song, which allowed us to not feel the need to break our necks a second time when we heard (and eventually did spot) another one a few minutes later. The other exciting find was an Ovenbird in the scrub, a songbird that forages on the ground and looks like a very small thrush. After some time of tracking it through the brambly undergrowth, it obligingly hopped up onto a higher branch so that we could get a nice long look at it. Once back at the parking lot, we saw Barn Swallows and a couple of butterflies: an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and a Red-Spotted Purple (which reminds me that I saw a Mourning Cloak in our town park about a month ago now).
Overall, it was a pleasant trip and the ring road meant that joggers were generally keeping off the hiking trail. As a note for next time, in the interest of keeping ourselves as tick-free as possible, we’ll probably bail from the trail at the end and walk back to the car from the road to avoid having to hike across the playing field (where the Azalea Trail terminates).