Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

It has been about 6 months since our last visit to the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in NoVA. We missed cherry blossom season this year but were still able to see many beautiful flowers today. And, of course, a variety of birds, including the sometimes elusive Baltimore Orioles!

Upon entering the gardens, we saw a variety of flowers as we walked along the path at the edge of the forest to the west of the entrance.

There was, surprisingly, no one at the gazebo on the large pond.

We spotted an Eastern Kingbird from far away. We found a nest last year in the gardens.

This dense array of flowers was nearby as we continued walking.

A Tree Swallow was on a nest box.

We continued on, entering the Korean Bell Garden.

We saw a male House Sparrow atop a nest box. We think he just happened to be here, rather than actually nesting in the box.

A Chipping Sparrow, the smallest sparrows here in the region, was on the ground.

These red leaves reminded us of being in Japan for autumn leaf season last year.

We briefly saw a House Wren on a tree. We typically don’t see this species very often. However, we found a family nesting in a nest box by one of the ponds here last year.

This Eastern Bluebird was standing at the entrance to a nest box. It’s probably a bit early in the season for us to be able to find any babies.

This Barn Swallow was on the ground collecting dry grass for its nest.

A Tree Swallow was, appropriately, at the top of a small tree.

We saw multiple Barn Swallows land in the grass nearby.

This is probably a Tree Swallow nest.

Up above, we spotted a Red-Shouldered Hawk. It was missing some tail feathers.

A turtle, one of many that inhabit the ponds here, was swimming on the surface.

Some peonies were in bloom in the peony garden near the gazebo.

We passed by a Gray Catbird as we reached the southeast corner of the middle pond.

The turtles like taking advantage of the sun, finding places out of water to stand.

We were happy to see the Purple Martins at their nest pods!

Nearby, we spotted another Eastern Kingbird.

In the distance, we spotted two birds in a field. They were both male Orchard Orioles! They did not look happy to see each other!

We watched as they engaged in multiple rounds of fast paced aerial combat.

After watching the fight, we continued walking, reaching the northern tip of the eastern pond. We could still see the Purple Martins from here. All the heads poking out look like adult heads.

We spotted a male Orchard Oriole in a tree nearby! We don’t know if it was one of the two that were fighting earlier.

We tried to follow it, though it was difficult.

A nearby flower that seems like it hasn’t fully opened.

We spotted another Eastern Bluebird at the top of a small tree. This is a common place to find this species.

This Eastern Bluebird caught a fuzzy little bug!

Soon, we spotted a Baltimore Oriole! We have had good luck finding this species here over the last two years. This one seems to have male coloring but given its appearance seems like it might be an immature male, born last year.

We followed the oriole as it moved around the tree.

Soon, we saw a second Baltimore Oriole. This one was definitely an adult male with bold black and orange colors.

This was the best photo we were able to get of him. We unfortunately did not find any nests this time around. We found nests the last two years in this area. The orioles seemed to fly away to the far side of the pond, where the trees are denser and taller.

We soon saw an Eastern Bluebird arrive at the same tree the Baltimore Orioles were on.

A very nice look at a male Eastern Bluebird perched on a branch!

We started to head back, finding a female House Finch nearby while searching for more orioles.

We spotted another Eastern Kingbird. We don’t know how many there actually are here. Last year, there seemed to be the adult pair and their children.

These two Tree Swallows were on a nest box and actively tracking things in the sky above.

Another Eastern Kingbird sighting.

As we headed up back up the hill to return to the entrance, we spotted what seems like three different Red-Shouldered Hawks soaring very high above. Someone mentioned having seen a Bald Eagle, but we unfortunately we did not see it.

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