A white-winged Scoter was the first rare bird I have ever found. White-winged Scoters are large sea ducks that can hold their breath for a minute or more as they dive deep underwater for food. In the winter, they are found along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They are typically found in the upmost part of the United States and most of northern Canada and Alaska.
My bird was found on February 9, 2014, at Craighead Forest Park. Interestingly, it was not the first white-winged scoter found in Arkansas that year. Several others were found across the state in Northwest Arkansas.
Earlier this week, I took advantage of a free morning to take a hike on a new, roughly 2.5-mile trail off Lake Maumelle. Not only was the hike relaxing, there were tons of birds singing along the way. My most exciting find wasn’t actually on the trail but soaring above it. I happened to look up just as the above pictured Osprey was circling above. I’ve never actually seen an Osprey in Arkansas, although these hawks are pretty common in central part of the state. I actually thought this one was a Mississippi Kite until I took a photograph and zoomed in closer to take a better look.
While the Osprey was a first for me, I also enjoyed practicing my bird call recognition. I’ve started using the sound ID section of the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app. While it has listed a few birds as calling that I know are not found in Arkansas, the sound ID app has correctly ID’d quite a few birds that I didn’t recognize the calls of. Two such birds on this trip were the White-eyed Vireo and Yellow-throated Vireo.
The above-pictured Yellow-throated Vireo is actually the third one of its species that I have seen period. I found all three Yellow-throated Vireos within the past week – all thanks to the app’s Sound ID. I would record bird calls, the app would ID the bird call correctly as the Yellow-throated Vireo, and the bird would then respond when I played callbacks (each one has come out in the open, allowing me to get a picture). It’s pretty exciting. The Yellow-throated Vireo may be one of the most colorful members of the vireo family, but it can blend it pretty darn well.
They say whatever you do on the first day of a new year is what you will be doing a lot for the remainder of the year. I took this advice to heart and decided to take a morning walk and bird. I first visited the arboretum trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Then, I visited a nearby old bridge that is no longer in use and is part of the Ouachita Trail area. The trip was a success. Not only was it a peaceful and happy trip, but I found plenty of birds. Here are a few photos from my trip.
I arrived home to find our feeders and front yard full of birds. 🐦 We even had a surprise visitor – a Cooper’s Hawk – that stayed quite a while, scaring off all of our other birds. Luckily, no birds were harmed during this visit. He eventually left, meaning all of our others slowly, hesitantly came back.
Earlier this month, I saw my first Broad-tailed Hummingbird in Wynne. The immature male is the fifth Broad-tailed Hummingbird to ever be reported in Arkansas. It is usually found further west.
The hummingbird was at the home of a woman I know (she works with my mom, her kids were in school with me). She was really nice, and let me show up at 7:30 a.m. to look for it. It was funny, as she was telling me it may take a while for it to appear, the hummingbird appeared. I didn’t even have a chance to put down my bag before it showed. I still ended up staying 45 minutes to get better pictures. It was a nice trip.
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):
Earlier today, friends asked me at separate times about what birds I’ve seen lately and what pictures I’ve taken lately because they haven’t seen me post anything on social media. Well…I had to say none lately, which is depressing. So, here’s a few I’ve found over the past few years.
I was off work today (yay!), although my family still kept me busy most of the day. In my downtime, I continued going through photos on my computer to cut down the numbers. Here’s a few gems that I found and realized were not marked off my bird list as found.
Just FYI, the above one of a Saw-Whet Owl is my favorite. In 2015, I went to a banding workshop where a University of Arkansas student put out nets to catch and band Saw-Whet Owls. I was lucky – he caught and banded one the first night I went. I went to another banding workshop a few years later, although unfortunately no birds were caught that night. His work is pretty incredible. Saw whet owls are one of the smallest owl species in North America, and are one of the most common (and seldom seen) owls in forests across northern U.S. Arkansas is in the Saw-Whet Owl’s non-breeding range (although sightings are scarce). In Arkansas, only a dozen sightings were reported between 1959 and 2010 before the UA student and his professor captured and documented one in 2015.
Here’s some more finds from over the past few years:
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.