Bayou Meto springtime

Barn Swallows
Barn Swallows

I typically visit the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area in the fall and winter — never spring and summer. I broke tradition this year by taking a late afternoon drive through the area with Izzie. Boy, was I glad I did. There were Barn Swallows, Dickcissels and Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds at the Halowell Reservoir while Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks lined the roads leading to and from the reservoir. Overall, it was a pretty drive with a gorgeous sunset (see the last pictures).

Barn Swallow2
Barn Swallow
Blue Grosbeak, Female1
female Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak, male
male Blue Grosbeak
Dickcissel, pair
A pair of Dickcissel

flowers1

Goose, Snow and Greater White-fronted
Geese — a snow and a greater white-fronted — that each had a drooping wing.

flowers2

Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting
RT Hummingbird1
female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
RT Hummingbird2
male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Sandpiper, Spotted1
Spotted Sandpiper

sunset

sunset2

Overtime = Owl.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Overtime. It’s a great word, especially since it allowed me to get out of the office early Thursday afternoon. Izzie and I headed to the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area to see what we could find. We got pretty lucky — the highlight of the trip was a Barred Owl (above). It was my first time to see one and, I must admit, March is turning out to be a great month for spotting owls!

Besides the owl, we also spotted Blue-winged Teal, Double-crested Cormorants, snow geese, sparrows, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinals and plenty of Wood Ducks. Here’s some pictures:

Wood Ducks
Wood Ducks
Double-crested Cormorant1
Double-crested Cormorant
Snow Geese
Snow Geese
Tufted Titmouse1
Tufted Titmouse
IMG_1316
I just love the color!
I also saw plenty of nutria. It's definitely mating season for these guys.
I also saw plenty of nutria. It’s definitely mating season for these guys. That’s all I’m going to say.

 

First day of spring

1
Northern Cardinal

Spring, which officially starts today, is my favorite season. To celebrate, I spent my early Tuesday evening working in my backyard. OK, it was mostly lazy yard work. I cleaned up, made plans for a proposed project and put up new hummingbird feeders.

After I finished, I just happened to glance over in time to see a bird leaving my hummingbird feeder. I. Was. Excited! Could it be a hummingbird, already? Nope. I sat by my window for an hour watching house sparrows, northern cardinals and American robins come up to feed. I’m now positive that it was a sparrow that went to the wrong feeder.

Whatever happened, I enjoyed my time outdoors and watching the birds. It’s not a bad way to pass the time. Here’s some of my visitors:

2
House Sparrow
3
American Robin

4
House Sparrows

5
House Sparrow

6
Northern Mockingbird

 

Short-eared Owls

Short-eared Owl1-0
Short-eared Owl

The Great Horned Owl sighting left me so excited that I decided to try spotting a second owl: The Short-eared Owl. The common open grasslands bird is a winter resident of the Stuttgart Municipal Airport. Past trips yielded no results so I finally got my hands on a map of where exactly to look and headed back out.

The trip lasted less than an hour and was a complete success. First, the trip started off on a great note when I discovered an airport employee was back at work after a long bout of illness. After signing in, I immediately stepped out of the airport’s office to find Northern Harriers, Killdeer and Red-winged Blackbirds.

My next stroke of luck came when the below-pictured plane took off, stirring up the owls. I counted about eight in all. According to the National Audubon Society, Short-eared Owls are in serious decline over much of its range with the primary threat being the destruction and degradation of open habitat. I think the owls are fascinating because you can find them easily throughout the day.

Short-eared Owl1-1

Short-eared Owl2

The Stuttgart Municipal Airport was originally prime farmland the U.S. government bought for an air force training site during WWII. After the war, the property was handed over to the City of Stuttgart for use as a municipal airport. Today, the military still uses the airport for training exercises.

The airport also remains busy with agricultural-, business- and hunting-related flights as well as birders. Audubon Arkansas and the City of Stuttgart previously started a 252 acre prairie restoration project for grassland birds. There are now prescribed fires, non-native plant control and rubble removal to benefit 13 prairie bird species of great conservation need. According to Audubon Arkansas, the project “continues a landmark collaborative working towards the long-term goal of a 2,000-acre core of contiguous native grassland suitable for the reintroduction of the Greater Prairie-Chicken to Arkansas.”

Short-eared Owl3

Short-eared Owl4

Short-eared owl5-not sure?
I ended the visit sighting an eastern meadowlark and this shorebird. I have no clue what it could be.

All day birding

Lately, my days have been pretty bare of after hours, work-related events. I had to take advantage of my good luck by heading out to bird in Arkansas County and around Little Rock. It paid off — I rediscovered four state birds. The birds were House finches, a Brown-headed Nuthatch, the American Goldfinch, and Green-Winged Teal Ducks. The duck pictures aren’t the best since the ducks were practically on the other side of the lake. But hey, at least you can tell what they are. 🙂

Anyway, here’s my pictures of the birds plus sky pictures that I like:

1-House Finches, Brown-headed Nuthatch
House Finches and a Brown-headed Nuthatch
2-American Goldfinch1
American Goldfinch
4-Green-Winged Teal Duck1
Green-Winged Teal Duck
5-Green-winged Teal Duck2
Another look at the Green-winged Teal Duck
6-Bald Eagle, Juvenile
Juvenile Bald Eagle
7-Setting Sun2
Heading back into Little Rock

8-Night

 

Guarding the nest.

House Sparrows1

I was taking pictures for work this afternoon when I happened to notice these House Sparrows near a nest above me. The two would sit for a while, peek at each other and, then, take turns chasing each other from the nest. It was funny and cute to watch.

 

House Sparrows2

House Sparrows3

Looking for ducks

Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Duck
Gadwall1
Gadwall Duck

I’ve finally added two more ducks to my list of photographed birds. I headed to Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area’s Halowell Reservoir earlier this month to see what was there and found both of the above Ruddy and Gadwall ducks. I was also in luck for plenty of other bird sightings as well.

1-Loggerhead Shrike1
Loggerhead Shrike
3-American Kestrel1
American Kestrel
4-Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark

5-flowers

7-sky

8-great blue heron
Great Blue Heron
9Mallards
Mallards
10-Rusty blackbird1
Rusty Blackbird

Cedar Waxwings practically at my door

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

I’ve wondered all  year where my Cedar Waxwings were since I usually have a flock that stays in my backyard for a few weeks. I’ll admit that I was very disappointed especially when other Arkansas birders kept reporting seeing Cedar Waxwings in their own yards.

Well, they have finally arrived. I was about to leave for work when I looked over and found more than 30 Cedar Waxwings in my front yard. Aren’t they gorgeous?