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:
On Saturday, some family members and I traveled to Heber Springs to see the trumpeter swans at Magness Lake and two nearby lakes. It was a success – we saw roughly 200 or more! Trumpeter swans, once endangered, are the largest waterfowl species in North America, according to allaboutbirds.org.
All of the lakes we found trumpeter swans at are on private property. But, the property owners are kind enough to let people visit the lakes to see the swans and other ducks, geese, and birds that are there. Each lake had a gravel parking lot, and feeders or bags of corn out for people to feed the swans.
Magness Lake, itself, is owned and fully funded by the family of Larry Glenn and Patti Winemiller Eason. It is the easiest lake to find and the family has even placed out signs welcoming people to the lake as well as explaining the rules and history of the swans. According to the family, the swans were first reported in the area in winter 1992 and have since returned each year, bringing more each time. The original three swans have now grown to 200-300 swans visiting.
We wrapped up the trip with a stop at Peggy Sue’s Place for lunch. While they don’t accept debit/credit cards, they did serve a great meal! Of everyone’s lunches, I especially enjoyed the chicken fried steak, side salad, fried squash and all of the desserts!
Here are some another photo I like, as well as one of a Ross Goose.
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.
I’m freezing, as usual, and dreaming of spring. I just found these photos from last spring of a Warbling Vireo I saw at the Mammoth Spring State Park. Figured I’d share.
This past Saturday, I participated in my first Christmas Bird Count held in Little Rock. It was pretty fun, and awesome in the fact that I got paired with one of the state’s best birders. I also visited some birding areas that I’ve never been to before. We found 59 different species in the eastern section of Little Rock that included the Arkansas Audubon Center and the nearby Gilliam Park. Here’s a few of the birds we saw:
A few years ago, I caught this Northern Mockingbird at dinner-time while visiting Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro! And boy, did it find the mother load of insects.
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.
I recently traveled back to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge after hearing reports that the Whooping Crane was roaming closer to the road, allowing birders a better view. That was not necessarily the case for my second visit to see it. However, I did get the chance to get a slightly better view as the sunset. Along the way, I also spotted the below Red-tailed Hawk while a group of Northern Shovelers swam in water located just across the road from the Whooping Crane.
While the Say’s Phoebe I photographed the other day caught my attention and excitement immediately, it wasn’t the only bird I saw. The Say’s Phoebe just happened to be the only rare-to-the-area one.
I also saw a Merlin – a first for me.