Photos: A Better View

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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.

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Revisiting the Whooping Crane

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Whooping Crane at sunset

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.

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Red-tailed Hawk
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Northern Shovelers

Rare find: Say’s Phoebe

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Yesterday, I made a trip back to my hometown in Northeast Arkansas and, naturally, I couldn’t resist stopping at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge on my way back to see what birds I could find.

I got lucky. Right off the bat, I found a Say’s Phoebe – which is rare to the area according to eBird.org. The Say’s Phoebe is a medium-sized flycatcher that is typically found in the western part of the United States.

Bald Knob NWR: Recent Finds

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Pectoral Sandpiper

Recently, I found several firsts at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge: the above Pectoral Sandpiper and the below Least Flycatcher.

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Least Flycatcher

However, these weren’t my only finds. See more below. 🙂

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American Avocet
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Blue Grosbeak
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Great Blue Heron
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Ducks at Sunset
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Great Blue Heron

 

Colorful view

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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.

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Bald Knob NWR

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Prothonotary Warbler

I visited the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge on April 28, and luckily got my first snapshots of a Prothonotary Warbler, Bobolink and Field Sparrow.

Photos: Killdeer (top, right), Field Sparrow (center right), Common Grackle (center, left), female Bobolink (bottom, left), and Barn Swallow (bottom, right).

 

Quick Trip

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Solitary Sandpiper

 

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:

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Northern Parula
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Snowy Egret
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Brown-headed Cowbird

A walk outside

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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.

Hollywood Plantation

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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:

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