Keith by a lotus pond having a happy birthday
great flotilla of lavender blue water hyacinth was the first sight to greet us as we arrived at the Kenilworth Aquatic gardens in North East Washington DC.
female black swallowtail butterfly sipping nectar rarely sat still for a portrait
This memorial holiday weekend Washington DC has had a perfect string of days after a hurricane Earl passed by at sea on Friday sweeping away the 90ºF heat wave for a while. All week I have been dreaming I wanted to go outdoors on the first day that wasn't going to get over 80ºF. Saturday was Keith's birthday I didn't want to dictate where we should go. I let him decide on his own and sure enough after 11 years together he chose the exact place I wanted to go on his special day. Kenilworth Aquatic Park and Gardens! We spent two hours strolling slowly with our cameras looking at the birds and flowers and the whole scene along the Anacostia river where the tides fill the marsh with river water then drain it nearly dry and back again.
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is one of those out of the way places that takes a little navigating to find but once you are there it is heaven. US Parks runs it and does a pretty good job maintaining the 11 acres of ponds, wilderness trails and board walks. It is teaming with wildlife some native and some invasive making it a demanding job to keep under control . First I saw a large river muskrat rustling the dried lotus leaves to build something in one pond. Much later we spotted a beaver den not 15 feet from one of the boardwalks. The first bird we discovered was a small adult green heron in a shallow lily pond fishing. Keith and I both took some pictures of it moving along slowly on the hunt. Then we spotted a few turtles on a log sunning which reminded me of one I had as a pet in the 1960's.
Soon we saw there were bigger birds closer to the river. Canada geese were making a lot of romantic declarations. A great blue heron perched on a fallen tree in one channel while preening some blue gray feathers before it slipped into the water to fish. Finally from the board walk we saw several Snowy egrets also on perches and in the water hunting small fish. There are tad poles and minnows in all the ponds making it a great buffet for so many of these marsh birds I am sure it is a haven to them as well as for me. There were butterflies, eastern tiger swallowtails, black swallowtails like the female one seen above, a bunch of orange and brown smaller butterflies and the migrating wonder, orange and black Monarch were everywhere. Numerous dragon flies were hard to catch near enough to photograph clearly. It was a challenge to get perfect photos but the excursion was well worth the effort and one I would gladly repeat soon. I took 98 photos and haven't yet finished the editing but you will be able to see them in my flickr Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens set soon.