I recently visited Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area for the first time. Located just west of Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Rattlesnake Ridge consists of 373 acres in the Ouachita Mountains and the ridge is the watershed divide between the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle rivers.
It is also home to three species of state conservation concern: the southeastern bat, the western diamondback rattlesnake and the Wright’s cliffbrake, a western desert fern. While I didn’t spot any of the above species, I did photograph my second Winter Wren. The only downside to my hike: I didn’t have enough time to hike to the top of the ridge.
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.
I recently participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count in Jonesboro where another birder informed the group she had found an Eastern Screech Owl roosting in a tree just past the entrance of Lake Frierson State Park. Well, I had already left Jonesboro when I saw her email informing us of her find and the other birds she spotted so I couldn’t go take a look that day.
When I arrived back in town for Christmas Eve, I couldn’t resist heading to the state park to see if I could spot the owl. I didn’t think I would and I was actually leaving the park when I just happened to see the owl – right before I arrived back at the park’s entrance. Yay! The owl was very cooperative and in a tree just off the road.
It definitely helped kick off a great Christmas Eve.
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.
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.
It’s been a fun several weeks watching birds. We’ve had both Baltimore Orioles and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at our feeders – and each time one appears we fangirl over them like it’s the first time they’ve appeared. I was excited to find a few others out in the area, such as the below Red-eyed Vireo.
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:
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.