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.
Tonight, we headed out to a nearby wildlife management area to get a better glimpse of the Christmas Star (which is when Jupiter and Saturn are really close in the sky, appearing as if they are one shiny, single star).
A Fork-tailed Flycatcher – only the second of its kind documented in Arkansas – has been spotted in Desha County. Fork-tailed Flycatchers are typically found along the Atlantic Coast and migrate from southern South America. They can be found in savanna’s, grasslands and other open country with scattered bushes and trees, according to eBird. The one in Arkansas has been hanging out around a bridge over Boggy Bayou. It is an agricultural area with a paper manufacturing plant nearby. While I was there, the bird was easy to spot and, even when it flew away, it returned to the same trees. Others said it perched on a power line although it never did while I was there. Here’s some more photos (plus some of other birds I love):
Today, I traveled to Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge to see the 10 Roseate Spoonbills that’s been reported there for the past several days. While they are typically found along the coast in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, it is starting to not be unusual to have at least one spoonbill found in Arkansas each year.
Besides the spoonbills, I also found the below Stilt Sandpiper nearby.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
It’s been a fun several weeks watching birds. We’ve had both Baltimore Orioles and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at our feeders – and each time one appears we fangirl over them like it’s the first time they’ve appeared. I was excited to find a few others out in the area, such as the below Red-eyed Vireo.
I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.