Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving; Winter Visitor

Happy Thanksgiving
We had a great Thanksgiving, thanks. I hope yours was nice, too. I’ll be back to some longer, newsier posts soon, I promise.

The kids and I hit "Happy Feet" at the Ballston Common Mall on Thanksgiving. Never saw a movie on a holiday before, and thought, since no family was visiting, that we'd try. My kids, 6 and 4, liked it, though I thought it was only OK, a little too derivative of other movies with a plot too close to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Buckingham’s Winter Visitor

Driving home the other day, I spotted what I thought was a fine specimen of an accipiter, or bird hawk, flying just under the canopy of oak trees near my home. It had a longish tail and rounded wings, and I was happy enough to see it again when walking home from skating. This time it was circling above the trees, and I saw it had a whitish underbelly, and no stripes that I could see.

I think it’s a northern goshawk. I’m not big birder, but I do like to know what I’m looking at when possible, so I checked out Peterson’s Field Guide to Eastern Birds, which turned up the goshawk as the most likely suspect.

The picture matched best what I saw, and part of its habitat: “in winter, deciduous woodlands.” What’s more deciduous than Arlington Oaks?

Now this is news (or, at least, neighborhood blogger news) because it usually doesn’t come this far south. My field guide is from 1980. The map shows that in winter Pennsylvania and New Jersey are probably filthy with these birds, but Maryland, it says, is about as far south as they come. The book hints that the bird has been pushing farther south, but a quarter century ago it hadn’t made it to us.

Somehow I doubt that I’m the first person to see one in Virginia, but it looked like something noteworthy, anyway.

My roommate and I have both spotted a fox in the neighborhood (Ballston Park, near the corner of N. Quincy & N. Glebe). Any other sightings?

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