The Belted Kingfisher was one of my aunt’s favorite birds. She always got excited when we spotted one and I now think of her every time I see one. On January 1, I passed this cooperative kingfisher sitting on a powerline almost eye level next to the bridge I was crossing. This time, I was the one who got excited to see it.
Belted Kingfishers can be found year-round in Arkansas. I typically find them close to water, whether that be a lake, a big ditch or even a swampy area with lots of big ditches nearby.
I spent New Year’s Day participating in the Christmas Bird Count for Lake Dardanelle. It was my first time scouting my particular section, but it was fun, albeit foggy. My most exciting find: A Lesser Black-backed Gull. It was the only one spotted during the count, although the gull has been seen in the area for the past few days.
This particular gull is a first winter with its checkered brown and white body and black bill. AllAboutBirds.org reports that the Lesser Black-backed Gull is common in Eurasia and was once a great rarity in North America; however, it is now becoming relatively common as a winter guest along the eastern coastline even though nesting here has yet to be confirmed. Its range map includes Arkansas in its nonbreeding (scarce) zone. According to eBird, we’ve had a sighting every year since 2016 in the state.