Visiting Rattlesnake Ridge

Winter Wren

I recently visited Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area for the first time. Located just west of Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Rattlesnake Ridge consists of 373 acres in the Ouachita Mountains and the ridge is the watershed divide between the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle rivers.

It is also home to three species of state conservation concern: the southeastern bat, the western diamondback rattlesnake and the Wright’s cliffbrake, a western desert fern. While I didn’t spot any of the above species, I did photograph my second Winter Wren. The only downside to my hike: I didn’t have enough time to hike to the top of the ridge.

Eastern Phoebe
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-breasted Nuthatch

First Day of 2021

Red-bellied Woodpecker

They say whatever you do on the first day of a new year is what you will be doing a lot for the remainder of the year. I took this advice to heart and decided to take a morning walk and bird. I first visited the arboretum trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

Yellow-Dumped Warbler
White-breasted Nuthatch
Tufted Titmouse

Then, I visited a nearby old bridge that is no longer in use and is part of the Ouachita Trail area. The trip was a success. Not only was it a peaceful and happy trip, but I found plenty of birds. Here are a few photos from my trip.

Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush

I arrived home to find our feeders and front yard full of birds. 🐦 We even had a surprise visitor – a Cooper’s Hawk – that stayed quite a while, scaring off all of our other birds. Luckily, no birds were harmed during this visit. He eventually left, meaning all of our others slowly, hesitantly came back.

PHOTOS: Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Earlier this month, I saw my first Broad-tailed Hummingbird in Wynne. The immature male is the fifth Broad-tailed Hummingbird to ever be reported in Arkansas. It is usually found further west.

The hummingbird was at the home of a woman I know (she works with my mom, her kids were in school with me). She was really nice, and let me show up at 7:30 a.m. to look for it. It was funny, as she was telling me it may take a while for it to appear, the hummingbird appeared. I didn’t even have a chance to put down my bag before it showed. I still ended up staying 45 minutes to get better pictures. It was a nice trip.

Christmas Eve Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

I finally found my first Eastern Screech Owl!

I recently participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count in Jonesboro where another birder informed the group she had found an Eastern Screech Owl roosting in a tree just past the entrance of Lake Frierson State Park. Well, I had already left Jonesboro when I saw her email informing us of her find and the other birds she spotted so I couldn’t go take a look that day.

When I arrived back in town for Christmas Eve, I couldn’t resist heading to the state park to see if I could spot the owl. I didn’t think I would and I was actually leaving the park when I just happened to see the owl – right before I arrived back at the park’s entrance. Yay! The owl was very cooperative and in a tree just off the road.

It definitely helped kick off a great Christmas Eve.

Photos: Swallowtail Kite

A Swallowtail Kite has been spotted flying above Interstate 440 North just outside of Little Rock. I was headed out of town when I heard the news. So, naturally, I had to swing by. I got lucky. Two others had arrived just before me so we all searched together. I was about to leave about 20 minutes later when it finally flew over the road ahead.

I see Mississippi Kites each year – a pair lives in my neighborhood. But this was the first Swallowtail Kite I have ever seen. They are usually found in the southeast along the coastal states, and while they are spotted in Arkansas, it is not as frequent. According to All About Birds, the Swallowtail Kite is called the “coolest bird on the planet.” (I disagree – I would reserve that title for hummingbirds 😁) These birds have a deeply forked tail along with a black and white plumage. They are usually found above swamps where they chase dragonflies, frogs, lizards, snakes and nestling birds. They migrate to South America for the winter.

Birding at Bell Slough WMA

Kentucky Warbler1 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Kentucky Warbler

A few weeks back – okay April, I’m just now getting to these photos – I visited Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area near Mayflower. It was my first time there, and I took the Kenny Vernon Nature Trail. It’s a 2.25 mile trail, and includes a variety of habitats such as flood fields, an area with a shale surface, and woods as well as elevation changes.

IMG_0941

There is a boardwalk at the start of the trail, which was actually flooded so I went back to town and bought rain boots to go through the water in. But, it was worth it – the day was beautiful and there were tons of birds singing. Prothonotary Warblers were actually all over this section of the trail.

IMG_0940

My most exciting find was a Kentucky Warbler (a first for me!!) that allowed me to get a really good look. Below are a few of my other finds:

Black-and-white Warbler 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Black-and-white Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler3 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Prothonotary Warbler

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher2 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Northern Parula 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Northern Parula

Ruby-throated Hummingbird2 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hairy Woodpecker1 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Hairy Woodpecker

Summer Tanager1 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Summer Tanager

Swainson's Thrush 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Swainson’s Thrush

Just a warbler or two

Yellow Warbler2 05172020 836a Bufflehead Bay
Yellow Warbler

A few weeks ago I visited Bufflehead Bay on Lake Maumelle, and it was warbler haven. While I saw favorites like the Pine Warbler and Summer Tanager, I also saw firsts for me: the Worm-eating Warbler and Yellow Warbler.

Summer Tanager
Pine Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Yellow Warbler