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.
This red-tailed hawk hung out at my parents’ house Christmas Day. At one point, it was sitting directly above the road on a power line. My dad had the bright idea of opening his truck’s sunroof so I could get a picture as we drove underneath the hawk. The hawk kind of seemed scandalized by the ordeal but it still remained nearby for the rest of the day.
I recently visited my grandma at the farm in Wynne. And anytime I visit, I have to walk to the pond to see what I can find. This trip’s golden find was a golden-crowned kinglet, which always reminds me of my late grandpa.
I finally saw my first owl. Well, actually it was three Great Horned Owls — a mother and two juveniles nesting near the top of a pine tree. I visited the area twice, taking pictures from across the street before I finally saw the first baby. I was pretty excited.
Great Horned Owls are common to the United States year-round. However, it was still my first time to clearly see an owl in the wild. I visited the nest mid-morning and late afternoon and, surprisingly, the mid-morning visit yielded the best results.
After the sighting, I had to go to allaboutbirds.org to read up on the Great Horned Owl. It was neat to learn that it is the “only animal that regularly eats skunks” and that they often take large prey, such as other owls, nesting Osprey and falcons.
The Great Horned Owl is also regularly harassed by flocks of American Crows that mob owls and “yell” at them for hours. According to allaboutbirds.org, “the enmity of the crows is well earned, however, as the owl is probably the most important predator on adult crows and nestlings.”
Here’s some more pictures of the Great Horned Owl nest:
It’s been a while since I’ve been on here — this heat has kept me lazy and indoors. However, that’s slowly changing. Yesterday, I headed only an hour away to Lake Norrell, located just outside of Alexander in Saline County to photograph an unusual visitor.
According to the American Birding Association, Vickie and Pat Martin first photographed this new comer at their Lake Norrell home a week ago on Aug. 9 and sent the picture to a friend to help ID.
Who was it? An adult female Brown Booby, according to their friend, birder Dottie Boyles. It’s the first record of a Brown Booby in Arkansas (pending acceptance) and hundreds of birders had already flocked to Alexander by the time I arrived mid-afternoon Wednesday.
Lake Norrell is a municipal water supply lake for the City of Benton that is located on Bushy Creek, a North Fork Saline River tributary. The lake is released into surrounding streams as well to protect the Fat Pocketbook, a nearby endangered specie. The lake is surrounded by private property, although the city and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has since provided public access in April 2000.
Presently, water levels are extremely low — at some points its down 15 feet. The low water level didn’t seem to bother this Brown Booby. She spent most of my visit preening.
The All About Birds website describes the Brown Booby as a tropical waters seabird that ranges as far north as the Gulf of California, although it is rarely seen on both coasts of the United States.
A Lake Norrell couple (who had an awesome boat flag-see below) offered me a boat ride to see the bird as well as a detour to see a Mute Swan that first joined the lake’s duck and geese population earlier in the year. The swan appeared without its life-long mate.
Mute swans are native to both northern and central Eurasia. They were introduced to North America to inhabit ponds in parks and estates, according to All About Birds. This swan’s aggressive behavior is already known among Lake Norrell’s residents as well as its fierce protectiveness of its’ surrounding goslings and ducklings.
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.