Watch Wildlife at Vet’s Park

Prothonotary Warblers are at Vet's Park now.

Prothonotary Warblers are at Vet's Park now.

Veteran’s Memorial Park, located in the Route 1 corridor, is a good place to experience wildlife.

You wouldn’t think so at first glance. The Park is jam packed with ball fields, a skate board facility, 50-meter outdoor swimming pool, picnic pavilions and a community center. Every weekend the park is brimming with people engaged in active recreation activities.

With all this activity, how could Vet’s Park be a great place to watch wildlife?

The reason is simple: Veteran’s Park is adjacent to the Marumsco Creek border of a National Wildlife Refuge. The trail along Marumsco Creek at Veteran’s Park is an convenient spot to view the animals that thrive in the varied habitats protected by the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Here’s a quick recap of the birds we’ve seen just in the past couple weeks include Blue Heron, Green Heron, Great Egret, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Yellowlegs and Wood Duck. Bald Eagles, Osprey and Turkey Vultures circle the marsh.

We spotted Hermit Thrush, Veery, Brown Thrasher and Cardinals in the underbrush. A variety of warblers flitted through the understory trees, including Black-throated Blue, Prothonotary, Yellowthroat, and Yellow Warblers. More warblers were higher in the trees, such as Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Yellow-throated, Parula and Yellow-Rumped Warblers.

We also saw Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bluebirds, Titmice, Chickadee, Tree Swallows, Rough-winged Swallows, Barn Swallows, Purple Martin and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. We saw a Great-crested Flycatcher, Kingbird, Phoebe and four species of Woodpeckers – Red-bellied, Hairy and Flicker.  Two Barred Owls were at the North end of the park.

We’ve seen butterflies and dragonflies, which will be present in increasing numbers as the weather grows warmer. There are many turtles, including Painted and Mud, but not many frogs for some reason.  The Wild Pink Azalea blooms are fading now, but Spatterdock and Arrow Arum will soon be blooming in the marsh.

If you haven’t made a trip to Vet’s Park recently, it’s time to grab your binoculars and head on over. When you return, you can use the comment section to add your sightings to our Vet’s Park wildlife list.  We’d love to hear your news!

Written by Kevin Parker & Kim Hosen

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