Photo essay: 1st CBC

Golden-Crowned Kinglet
Golden-Crowned Kinglet

I participated in my very first Christmas Bird Count (CBC) Saturday. It was pretty fun, especially since it allowed me to tour the restricted areas of the White River National Wildlife Refuge.

My group did not discover any rare or unusual birds, however, I was able to view two firsts for me: The Golden-Crowned Kinglet and Wild Turkeys. We also viewed thousands of Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Ruddy ducks, and geese in the refuge’s sanctuary.

Here’s some more pictures from the day:

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
1-5 (3) Bamboo
Bamboo, an invasive species that is spreading on the refuge.
1-5 (4) Mallards, Ross, Snow and Speckled Bellies Geese2
There were plenty of Mallards as well as Ross, Snow and Speckled Bellied Geese.
1-5 (5) Mallards, Ross, Snow and Speckled Bellies Geese1
There were plenty of Mallards as well as Ross, Snow and Speckled Bellied Geese.
White-Throated Sparrow
White-Throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow — I saw plenty at the refuge, however, this particular one was at the Stuttgart airport late Saturday afternoon.

The grey-headed woodpecker

A woodpecker with a gray head!?! What?
A woodpecker with a gray head!?! What?

I was thrown off recently when I spotted this gray-headed woodpecker. I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on, although I knew it looked like a Red-Headed Woodpecker. I also took the picture where I’ve previously seen several other Red-Headed Woodpeckers.

Puzzled, I pulled out my bird book to learn that it’s a juvenile Red-Headed Woodpecker. Pretty neat!

 

Vermilion Flycatcher

A rare bird to Arkansas has been spotted in Arkansas County. I met up with a fellow birder late this morning to go see the female Vermilion Flycatcher. The flycatcher is presently living on the 18th hole (which doubles as the 9th hole) at the Oak Hill Country Club in DeWitt.

Luckily, we found it although we weren’t too sure of ourselves at the time. Unfortunately, the pictures are kind of out-of-focused. Still here’s two more shots of the bird.

A long way to go…

Short-Billed Dowitchers off of Hwy. 306 near Wynne

I shot this picture of Short-billed Dowitchers in a flooded field last Sunday. It was overshadowed when I went on to see Bald Eagles, mallards and Cooper’s Hawk in the following 48 hours. I began attempting to identify the Short-Billed Dowitchers this week and remembered I had similar looking birds in an Aug. 25 picture.

Silly me. I found the August picture and, well, the birds in both pictures really looked the same to me.  They’re not, although I was somewhat right in my assessment that they were sandpipers. I successfully begged for help on the Arkansas Bird Listserv today to learn that the below picture is apparently of Buff-Breasted Sandpipers.

Buff-Breasted Sandpipers at the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge

Overall, I learned two key things today. The first is that I’m horrible at identifying birds if its not absolutely obvious (re: me thinking the birds in the above pictures were the same). The final fact is, well, I’ve photographed two new birds in Arkansas for my state bird list. Yay for me! 🙂

 

The Rufous Hummingbird

On Tuesday, I saw my first Rufous Hummingbird at a nearby house in Stuttgart. A female or immature, the Rufous had a greenish gold crown and back, a white breast and dull reddish/brown sides. The males have bright orange on the back and belly with a red throat.

I originally heard of the bird through the state’s only hummingbird bander, Tana Beasley. The owner of the house with the Rufous later dropped by my work to invite me out to her house for  a look.

I couldn’t resist. Tana said it is the closest “unusual” hummingbird (meaning not the common Ruby-Throated we have here) to the Stuttgart/ Casscoe area that she has heard about. She did attempt to capture the Rufous for banding, however, the bird was not having it.

The Rufous refused to stay where it usually sat until the cage was gone. I actually stopped by the house twice before I finally saw the Rufous: Once with the cage there and once afterwards. Ruby-Throated hummingbirds swarmed the enclosed garden area on both visits.

The Ruby-Throated hummingbirds were hoarding the feeders so much that the Rufous had taken over a portion of the garden’s flowers. It was funny to watch the Rufous sit on favored spots above this section, which it guarded fiercely.