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 dove straight into 2020 with a birding trip to Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. My goal was simple – knock off at least one bird from my “Birds still left to be found” list.
I succeeded with good looks of Cackling Geese, Horned Grebe and Common Goldeneye Ducks. Not bad for a quick Jan. 1 trip!
This past weekend, I traveled to Saracen Lake in Pine Bluff to search for the Tropical Kingbird that’s been spotted there for roughly the past two weeks. It’s rare to Arkansas, and more common to South America. I saw my first Tropical Kingbird earlier this year on my birding trip to Costa Rica.
Pine Bluff is a 45-minute trip from Little Rock. My first attempt to find the Tropical Kingbird was around noon Saturday. I was there for about an hour with no luck. It was later spotted about an hour after I left. I tried again on Sunday, arriving around 2 p.m. – the same time it was spotted the day before. This time, I immediately found the Tropical Kingbird sitting on a chain link fence near the park’s entrance. While it never vocalized, the Tropical Kingbird was very accommodating in letting me park near it to take pictures.
Below are some other birds spotted during the two trips:
Today’s star visitor was this White-breasted Nuthatch. It was one of two that browsed the tree next to our house for food this morning. It might be in Arkansas year-round, according to my Merlin Bird ID app, but it is not a bird I commonly see.
So…when I took this photo on Sept. 28 at Bald Knob National Wildlife, I thought it was another species of bird. I recently realized I never went through these photos so I began taking a look. Yep, it’s an Olive-sided Flycatcher.
Below is another photo taken that day of a Great Blue Heron that I just like.
The American Kestrel is such a hard bird to photograph – it takes off any time I get too close. However, this one at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge showed no fear! Another first for me: this pair of Northern Harriers I found together.
A few finds from a quick trip through Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge.
For several weeks, a whooping crane has been spotted at Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge. I finally got a chance to go find him – and while I didn’t get the best photo – I am excited to say I’ve now seen my first whooping crane in Arkansas. Yay!
Whooping cranes, one of North America’s largest birds, are endangered. According to the Audubon Society, they were once pretty widespread on the northern prairies; however, they went nearly extinct in the 1940s. Strict protection has since brought the whooping crane population to over 100. When one is spotted in Arkansas, the birding community gets pretty darn excited.
Recently, I found several firsts at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge: the above Pectoral Sandpiper and the below Least Flycatcher.
However, these weren’t my only finds. See more below. 🙂