Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

We decided to visit Meadowlark Botanical Gardens again today, late in the morning before heading to lunch in Fairfax. While we didn’t find any Baltimore Orioles this time around, we did see many birds and pretty flowers! We also saw our first Purple Martins, a species that we’ve never seen before!

While we can identify the majority of the local birds on sight, we don’t really know many flowers. Luckily, the internet has some amazing resources! Pl@ntNet has an identification tool that attempts to identify the flowers in a photo. It seems to work! These are all different varieties of hydrangea! The one that has both pink and purple flowers together is particularly interesting.

These all appear to be coneflowers, a type of daisy. They also come in a wide array of different colors.

We only photographed one example of this flower near the entrance to the gardens. This appears to be stokes aster, also a type of daisy.

Nearby, we sighted our first bird, a Chipping Sparrow that was on the path.

This immature Brown-Headed Cowbird seemed to be following the Chipping Sparrow. Could it have been raised by Chipping Sparrows? It didn’t follow after the Chipping Sparrow flew away though so it could have just been a coincidence. Also of note, it seems to have bug skin (shell?) stuck on its feathers. It did manage to remove it though!

We saw so many Eastern Bluebirds today! They seemed to be everywhere! We saw many immature ones as well as a few adults.

We came across this House Wren soon after coming out of a forested area near the northern edge of the gardens. We rarely ever see this species as the Carolina Wren is much more common where we live.

We saw a few wild blackberries near a gazebo at the top of a hill. A nice place to rest and surrounded by interesting plants.

At the bottom of the hill, we came across this sculpture. Reminded me a bit of the Delta Airlines logo!

We eventually found ourselves out in the open near the Korean Bell Garden. This is the pavilion that houses the peace bell.

We headed towards the ponds and started encountering swallows. We initially saw many Barn Swallows. Some of them were perched on trees like these. They seem to particularly like this line of trees between the path and one of the ponds.

Part of a Tree Swallow also made it into one of our photos. Unfortunately, we didn’t notice it at the time or we would have photographed one properly!

On our first visit, we saw Barn Swallows landing on the walkway and lying down. We weren’t sure why they were doing this and still don’t know. Today, we saw them land on the path and walk around but didn’t see any lying down. They were mostly just standing still or walking awkwardly with their tiny little legs.

We photographed this one immature Barn Swallow. There were almost certainly more out of the dozens that we saw.

After walking by the swallows, we came across this Purple Clematis. Pretty!

This plant had interesting leaves and a single stalk of small flowers. It seems to be a Coleus.

We noticed these artificial nests during our last visit but weren’t sure if they were occupied. Well, they definitely are in use! By Purple Martins! Although this species is present where we live, we’ve never seen one before! We saw both adults and immatures today. The adult males are a dark purple color with white on the undersides of their wings. The others are either females or immatures. If you look closely at the photos, you can also see Purple Martins inside of the nests. In the last photo, an adult appears to be feeding its chicks inside the nest while other chicks are sticking their heads out of their nests to watch!

We noticed these flower stalks near one of the ponds. It may be a variety of Blazingstar.

During our last visit, we saw a female Red-Winged Blackbird standing on a lotus. Today, we saw a female hanging on to a flower stalk!

We were curious as to if the lotus flowers would be in bloom, particularly as last week we saw many at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Well, they were in bloom! We examined them from the middle of a small bridge that leads to a tiny island between two of the ponds. We couldn’t proceed any further as the path was closed due to aggressive nesting Red-Winged Blackbirds!

Nearby, we saw a few turtles resting out in the sun.

This flower was particularly interesting in appearance! We saw it as we were walking back towards the entrance to the park. This is apparently a type of artichoke, possibly Spanish Artichoke, though other varieties also appear similar. Pl@ntNet seems pretty confident about it being the Spanish variety though.

As we returned to the entrance, we hoped for one final chance to see an Oriole. But no luck today. The two nests that we know of were empty and we didn’t see any at all. The final bird that we noticed was this little Chipping Sparrow perched on a tree with something tiny held in its mouth!


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