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.
My aunt and I kayaked up the Little Maumelle River and back today. Highlight of the trip: this Yellow-throated Warbler. Plus, it was just a relaxing trip.
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.
There were few birds found recently on Pinnacle Mountain State Park’s Arboretum Trail (and only 1 other person – we stayed far away from each other), but the ones I definitely made the trip taken between rain showers count. I found a Carolina Wren feeding its babies, a Carolina Chickadee (not pictured) gathering food and a Swanson’s Thrush. A native Red Columbine flower also grew near the trail – a perfect celebration of this being Native Plant Week.
This weekend, I visited Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge and, OH MY GOSH, it was a FANTASTIC weekend. I recorded a record number of birds in eBird that included some firsts for me. Here are my highlights:
Two Eastern Bluebirds have been feeding their young right outside of my front window for the past few days. Tonight, they sat in a feeder filled with mealworms and fed the youngster.
On Saturday, we were going a little stir crazy at home so we decided to take advantage of the warm weather to grab some drinks at a nearby Starbucks and then visit local parks (while practicing social distancing of course and other guidelines advised by health officials).
The trip got off to a great start! Starbucks’ drive-thru line was long but there was a native Possum Haw tree/shrub that had about 15 Cedar Waxwings eating the berries on it.
We eventually visited Bufflehead Bay, the flower garden near Pinnacle Mountain State Park’s Visitor Center and Two Rivers Park. The clear winners of the day were the many butterflies we saw as well as a Northern Diamondback Watersnake that was sunbathing. Here’s a little of what we saw:
I stumbled across a Common Yellowthroat during a recent trip to Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. Not going to lie, it took me a good 20-ish minutes to finally spot/identify this little guy. I could see two birds sprinting around in the shrubs across a huge ditch from me, but they were moving too fast for me to see clearly at first. I finally caught the one pictured above just resting in a bush.
This morning trip fielded about 28 different species of birds for me. Some of my highlights are below: