Photos: Revisiting Old Stomping Grounds

Vesper Sparrow

On Monday, I got up early to visit the Stuttgart Municipal Airport in hopes of seeing Barn Owls. I didn’t spot the Barn Owls by their known roost, but I did find this Vesper Sparrow that was singing from a hiding spot within tall brush. I was searching for a while before I got lucky: the sparrow flew up to a nearby power line where I was able to get a good look at it.

Vesper Sparrows are typically found in Arkansas from late September through mid-May, according to eBird. According to All About Birds, they are often hidden from sight in grasslands and fields. There are two unique features on the streaky brown sparrow: a thin white eyeing and flashes white tail feathers inflight. It also has a small chestnut patch on the shoulder.

I also spotted a Say’s Phoebe, a rare find in Arkansas, although many have been spotted in the state recently. Another birder had spotted this bird at the airport a few days before me so I was curious to see if it was still hanging around. It was.

Say’s Phoebes are typically found more west of Arkansas. They differ from the common Eastern Phoebe in having a cinnamon-colored belly. Both phoebes are brownish gray above, although the Eastern Phoebe has a pale belly.

Besides visiting the airport, I also traveled to the nearby Bayo Meto Wildlife Management Area. Here are a few other birds I saw:

Ross Goose (left) and Snow Goose

Thomas

Meet Thomas. I came across this 10-year-old Shih Tzu through a Facebook post by a local humane society shelter. It was love at first sight, and I went to the shelter two days later to meet him. I knew when they brought him out that he was going home with me.

Thomas is a fantastic companion. He’s sweet, loving, gets along with everyone and listens so well. He would have gotten along well with Izzie.

Photo: Blue-winged Warbler

I saw my first Blue-winged Warbler today at Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge in Saint Charles.

The Blue-winged Warbler migrates through Arkansas each year. Cool fact per All About Birds: the oldest recorded Blue-winged Warbler was a male that lived at least 9 years and 11 months. The data was collected during banding operations in Ontario that had the captured, banded, and released.

Snowed in

“You’re in my spot!” American Goldfinch, Pine Warbler

Today’s a state holiday and we’re snowed in. So, it was the perfect day to birdwatch. We had 23 total bird species visit our feeders today – and that doesn’t include some birds we typically see like the American Crow and White-breasted Nuthatch (both were present yesterday but not today 🤷🏼‍♀️). Here’s a few of my favorite visitors today:

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Flicker
European Starling
Northern Cardinal

No, I didn’t spend all day simply watching my feeders. There was also tax work and a walk around the neighborhood. I’ll let you guess which one was my favorite.

Menard Mounds

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One of the nine known mounds at Menard Mounds in southern Arkansas County.

I’m fascinated with the history of Arkansas County. It’s been a focal point for me in the recent months since the county is celebrating its bicentennial this year and Arkansas Post National Memorial has started work to open its Osotouy Unit up to the public.

The Osotouy Unit covers 400 acres just a quarter of a mile north of where the Quapaw village of Osotouy once sat (now known as Wallace Bottoms). It’s the village that Henri de Tonti established the original “Poste de Arkansea” near in 1686. Today, all that remains are nine known mounds (known as the Menard Mounds) that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark.
Arkansas Post has now started working on its document that would guide management of Osotouy Unit and allow the national park to receive funding to develop pedestrian trails and interpretive opportunities linking the two sites. It’s a project park officials say will take a while to complete.However, once done, it will be a fascinating place to visit. I simply couldn’t wait until then so Izzie and I traveled to the site with my visiting parents. I would have gotten lost if it weren’t for them.In past years, it was owned by a logging company so the roads were rough and it took me a while to find the nearest community — the unincorporated town of Nady. Here’s some pictures once I found it:

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We originally passed the gate to Menard Mounds and continued on driving down the logging road. We just happened to see the gate as we were returning.

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A not-so-unusual view.

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Lots of flowers.

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I love these.

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The drive down was beautiful just by itself.

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View by the mounds.

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More flowers in the field.

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Summer Tanager.

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Izzie was a mess by the time we left.

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This raccoon flew past us.

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Back at home, this Red-Winged Blackbird greeted me at the feeder.

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Red-Winged Blackbird outburst.

 

Change of pace

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My home for the past three years.

I moved to Stuttgart nearly three years ago. It’s been a great home, especially with Arkansas Post National Memorial, Bayou Meto, Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake and the White River National Wildlife Refuge being so close. However, it’s now time for me to leave Arkansas County and the Grand Prairie.

I have accepted a job with the same newspaper that I previously interned at for over three years. I’m nervous, yet excited to be able to call Jonesboro home once more.

The move is coming up — my last day in Stuttgart is the 10th. So … wish me luck and get ready to become reacquainted with the delta – NEA style. 🙂

Photo essay: Gigi & I

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

My grandmother, Gigi, and I share a love of birds. So, a hummingbird banding workshop was the perfecting outing for us to spend some time together. Luckily, the Saturday workshop was from 1-4 p.m. at the Potlatch Conservation Education Center in Casscoe, which gave me plenty of time to pick her up in Jonesboro and stop at Jack Ryan’s Convenience store to pick up some of their oh-so-good sandwiches for lunch.

I’ve been going to the workshop for three years now and I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with it. There were no little kids this time so Gigi and I were both able to release a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird after they were banded. It was a pretty neat experience since the hummingbirds sat for a moment before flying off. Later, we drove down to the dock to see how high the White River was.

Here’s pictures:

Banding the first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
Banding the first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
Gigi releasing the first hummingbird.
Gigi releasing the first hummingbird, a male.
I got to release the last.
I got to release the last, a female who was also the rowdiest.
Close up of mine.
Close up of mine.
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
This one was already banded.
This one was already banded.
Already banded.
Another look at the already-banded hummingbird.
Eastern Bluebird that posed as we headed down to the dock.
Eastern Bluebird that posed as we headed down to the dock.
The White River water level is pretty high right now.
The White River water level is pretty high right now.
The dock at the White River. We were still able to access the floating ramp.
The dock at the White River. We were still able to access the floating ramp.
We found this lady bug on the floating ramp along with ...
We found this lady bug on the floating ramp along with …
This Broad-headed Skink (lizard) and ...
This Broad-headed Skink (lizard) and …
This frog who jumped off the ramp as I approached.
This frog who jumped off the ramp as I approached.
We spent our trip back to Jonesboro look for any wildlife. We saw very few.
We spent our trip back to Jonesboro look for any wildlife. We saw very few.

It was a day well spent.

 

Photo: Its just a baby

Stuttgart-Baby Killdeer 6:23
Killdeer

I live just off of a busy highway so, when I walk, I typically head toward a nearby cemetery that neighbors a dirt road. The detour gets me away from the heavy traffic and is typically a peaceful route to walk. However, it has lately reminded me of a scene from The Birds with Killdeer replacing the blackbirds. I’ve noticed more Killdeer in this location this year than ever before and they definitely don’t like my presence.

I guess it’s a good thing I’ve been too lazy to walk lately. Last night, I ended up on the dirt road during my drive home and I passed the above baby Killdeer. His mother was just above the ditch and the baby just couldn’t find a way up. It was rejoined by a sibling just after I drove away.

 

Bursts of color

Stuttgart Tulip 6:5

Daylilies are finally blooming in my backyard. It’s the closest to gardening that I can get, although technically my only involvement is watching them bloom. The largest batch is centered just between my bird-watching window and my bird feeders. It’s where I snapped the above picture.