Monday 20 February 2012

Tyson's Corner, Virginia, February 2012

The morning started very slowly at Tyson’s Corner, where we stay during our slip on Washington Dulles trips. The dead-end path was birded with nary a one seen and only a couple heard. The earthworks for the construction site now cover what used to be the sunken meadow (Google Earth ref; 38 55 25N 77 13 13W) and it looks as if the deer have moved on.

Just a short way along the pavement is another small wood and the path continues across a little bridge where a pond is overlooked by residential units (Google Earth ref; 38 55 41N 77 13 26W). The residents here often feed the birds and at last I began to see some Northern Cardinals and Carolina Chickadees. They looked a bit nervous this morning and the reason soon became clear. A young Cooper’s Hawk was perched in a tree close to the feeders. Three Blue Jays came down from the larger trees to try and shoo it away, but the hawk paid them no attention.

At the bottom of Park Run Drive an ornamental patch of shrubs and blossom trees had attracted a Northern Mockingbird, Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees. I don’t know if Virginian mockingbirds are more confiding than in other states, but they always seem more approachable here than anywhere else.

A line of bushes at the entrance to an office block was busy with birds with White-throated Sparrows, Blue Jays and Downy Woodpeckers. As I leaned on the wall to take a picture a security guard came out to shoo me away. No-one is allowed to take photographs on this private land without permission it appears and that concession was not forthcoming, even after a chat with her boss. Actually, it was not so much a chat as a monosyllabic refusal. “He don’t allow no-one to take no pictures of this facility”, the original guard informed me as I left, to which I should have replied, “It’s not a facility, it’s a bush”, but instead I muttered something under my breath and returned to the public footpath ten feet from where I had been refused permission to take pictures.
From here I could see straight into the boss’s office and spent a few happy moments irritating him by taking long lens pictures of him through the window of his facility before turning my attention back a Song Sparrow.

Some of the offices here are low-level government administration buildings and the security guards are wound tighter than tripwires. I have been detained by the police before now for using camera and binoculars along the roads here, so it is probably best not to tease the officers while they are doing their duty.

Another mockingbird posed at the back entrance to the hotel, again allowing a very close approach.

Birds seen; 12

Great Blue Heron 1, Mallard 2, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Mourning Dove 4, Downy Woodpecker 1, Carolina Wren 1, Northern Mockingbird 3, Carolina Chickadee 3, Tufted Titmouse 4, Song Sparrow 3, White-throated Sparrow 6, Northern Cardinal 5.

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