It’s been forever since my family did a mini-vacation together so we finally decided to go wild and take a Saturday trip to Blanchard Springs in the Ozark National Forest.
Its been at least 10 years since we visited the Blanchard Springs caverns. The caverns formed when rainwater soaked into the ground for millions of years, going through cracks in the limestone bedrock to dissolve the stone and slowly widen the cracks. The water remained underground until surface erosion carved valleys allowing the water to escape.
For our day trip, we took the Dripstone Trail before heading outside to explore the base of the Blanchard Springs mountain. Finally we headed to Batesville to eat dinner at Josie’s. The restaurant is next to the White River Hydroelectric Project Lock and Dam No. 1, which is really low right now meaning. The low water didn’t dull the evening though — we got to see a gorgeous sunset while watching goofy people get stuck in the sand. 🙂
Here’s some pictures from our trip (minus the stuck trucks.)
I’m not sure who was more surprised — this raccoon or I. We came across each other as I hiked to Cook’s Lake from the Potlatch Conservation Education Center in Casscoe. My first thought was “Is he alive? … IS HE STAPLED TO THE TREE?” The last thought is in response to how I first saw him (hint, it’s not the above picture but the below one).
For some reason, I never thought about raccoons climbing. Honestly, I never really gave them much thought period. Still, I liked my little bandit. I visited the center to attend its last hummingbird program of the year. I was determined to get a few better pictures of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. I think I met my goal. 🙂
In addition to the hummingbirds, I even got a few more surprises: An immature male Indigo Bunting (first picture below) and a Red Spotted Purple butterfly.
It’s been a while since I’ve been on here — this heat has kept me lazy and indoors. However, that’s slowly changing. Yesterday, I headed only an hour away to Lake Norrell, located just outside of Alexander in Saline County to photograph an unusual visitor.
According to the American Birding Association, Vickie and Pat Martin first photographed this new comer at their Lake Norrell home a week ago on Aug. 9 and sent the picture to a friend to help ID.
Who was it? An adult female Brown Booby, according to their friend, birder Dottie Boyles. It’s the first record of a Brown Booby in Arkansas (pending acceptance) and hundreds of birders had already flocked to Alexander by the time I arrived mid-afternoon Wednesday.
Lake Norrell is a municipal water supply lake for the City of Benton that is located on Bushy Creek, a North Fork Saline River tributary. The lake is released into surrounding streams as well to protect the Fat Pocketbook, a nearby endangered specie. The lake is surrounded by private property, although the city and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has since provided public access in April 2000.
Presently, water levels are extremely low — at some points its down 15 feet. The low water level didn’t seem to bother this Brown Booby. She spent most of my visit preening.
The All About Birds website describes the Brown Booby as a tropical waters seabird that ranges as far north as the Gulf of California, although it is rarely seen on both coasts of the United States.
A Lake Norrell couple (who had an awesome boat flag-see below) offered me a boat ride to see the bird as well as a detour to see a Mute Swan that first joined the lake’s duck and geese population earlier in the year. The swan appeared without its life-long mate.
Mute swans are native to both northern and central Eurasia. They were introduced to North America to inhabit ponds in parks and estates, according to All About Birds. This swan’s aggressive behavior is already known among Lake Norrell’s residents as well as its fierce protectiveness of its’ surrounding goslings and ducklings.
- Birdwatchers Flock to Saline County Lake after Brown Booby Spotting (arkansasmatters.com)
- A Big Bird Surprise For Arkansas (newbillthurman.wordpress.com)