The good thing about visiting Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge is that I can usually find something for each member of my party (which typically includes family members). For my aunt, that means flowers. So, you can imagine we were happy to find these flowers this past May.
As I headed to Northeast Arkansas on Friday, I made a quick pitstop at the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. High waters kept me on the south side of Huntsman Road near Safely Road, and limited time prevented me from entering on Coal Chute Road. Still, it was a fun trip – here’s some of what I found:
March 20 is in 17 days. It is the start of spring and my favorite months of the year. I love flowers, the wildlife and burst of activity that happens. I’m already looking for things to do, which includes visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I was going through photos today, and stumbled across these photos from my first visit to Crystal Bridges in July 2017.
For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I traveled to Tillar, Ark., with my aunt to visit the Dr. John Martin Taylor House (also known as the Hollywood Plantation). The Arkansas Archeological Survey – University of Arkansas Monticello (UAM) Research Station was hosting a cemetery clean up of the Taylor family cemetery and Valley Farm cemetery, the nearby African American cemetery.
The two-story, dog-trot log house was built in 1846 alongside Bayou Bartholomew (which by the way is the world’s longest bayou). The 11,000-acre plantation was inhabited until the 1940s, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It has since been donated to UAM and is being restored as an education site for people to visit to learn the history of one of Arkansas’ earliest major cotton plantations.
The Taylors were from Kentucky. According to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), the Hollywood Plantation got its name from all the native holly trees on the property. The family brought over slaves from its Kentucky plantation — there were 83 slaves according to the 1850 Census and 101 slaves by 1860. After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, those slaves were given the option to stay on as tenant labor or travel back to the Kentucky plantation with the owner’s wife. That trip in fall 1863 was documented, according to AHPP.
We did get to tour the old Taylor house before work began. The house was built with slave labor, and our tour guide showed us a handprint that remains in the wall of a second-floor bedroom. I just want to know the story behind it — the upper story is the most original to the 1840s.
Our work for the day was primarily cleaning up the land in the Valley Farm cemetery. This is also believed to be the site of the plantation’s original slave burying grounds. According to staff, there are about 18 known graves (ranging from 1906 to 1926) there, and not all of the headstones for those graves could be found. See below for more pictures from the day:
Earlier this year, I accepted a non-journalism job in Little Rock — a move I never thought I would ever make both in terms of leaving journalism and leaving Northeast Arkansas.
I lucked out in the housing situation, though, and one of my favorite things to do is to keep track of the various wildlife to visit my backyard. Besides the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, I think we are most excited to welcome four to five Baltimore Orioles. Above are some photos taken in late April.
I love Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. It’s halfway between my house and the Jonesboro/Wynne area so it’s an AWESOME place for me to take a break from interstate driving and have some fun. There’s different birds to see year-round, and I’ve gotten pretty lucky in the past several weeks. I’ve visited a lot more these past few months — especially since I finally purchased a 600mm lens.
The refuge is best known for migrating waterfowl, and I can usually find shorebirds there year-round. So far, my best finds have been an out-of-season American Golden-Plover, a White-faced Ibis and a Yellow-headed blackbird.
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.