Photos: Lake Saracen

Tropical Kingbird1 122219 Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff
Tropical Kingbird

This past weekend, I traveled to Saracen Lake in Pine Bluff to search for the Tropical Kingbird that’s been spotted there for roughly the past two weeks. It’s rare to Arkansas, and more common to South America. I saw my first Tropical Kingbird earlier this year on my birding trip to Costa Rica.

Pine Bluff is a 45-minute trip from Little Rock. My first attempt to find the Tropical Kingbird was around noon Saturday. I was there for about an hour with no luck. It was later spotted about an hour after I left. I tried again on Sunday, arriving around 2 p.m. – the same time it was spotted the day before. This time, I immediately found the Tropical Kingbird sitting on a chain link fence near the park’s entrance. While it never vocalized, the Tropical Kingbird was very accommodating in letting me park near it to take pictures.

Below are some other birds spotted during the two trips:

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Double-crested Cormorant
Bufflehead3 122219 Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck 122119 Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff
Ruddy Duck
Belted Kingfisher1 122219 Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff
Belted Kingfisher
American Pelican 122119 Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff
American Pelican
Great Blue Heron1 122219 Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff
Great Blue Heron
Double-crested Cormorant 122219 Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff
Double-crested Cormorant

Photos: Little Rock CBC

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White-eyed Vireo (Russenberger Road)

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:

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Winter Wren (Fourche Bottoms – Borrow Ponds)
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House Wren (Arkansas Audubon Center)
American Kestrel, Pileated Woodpecker 121419 LR CBC_Russenberger Road
Pileated Woodpecker, American Kestrel (Russenberger Road)
Brown-headed Nuthatch1 121419 LR CBC_Russenberger Road
Brown-headed Nuthatch (Russenberger Road)
Orange-crowned Warbler1 121419 LR CBC_Benny Craig Park
Orange-crowned Warbler (Benny Craig Park)
Tufted Titmouse2 121419 LR CBC_Russenberger Road
Tufted Titmouse (Russenberger Road)
Swamp Sparrow 121419 LR CBC_Russenberger Road
Swamp Sparrow (Russenberger Road)
Pine Warbler 121419 LR CBC_Fourche Bottoms_Borrow Ponds
Pine Warbler (Fourche Bottoms – Borrow Ponds)
Eastern Towhee 121419 LR CBC_Russenberger Road
Eastern Towhee (Russenberger Road)
Green-winged Teal 121419 LR CBC_Fourche Bottoms_Borrow Ponds
Green-winged Teal (Fourche Bottoms – Borrow Ponds)
Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler 121419 LR CBC_Russenberger Road
Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler (Russenberger Road)
Double-crested Cormorant 121419 LR CBC_Fourche Bottoms_Borrow Ponds
Double-crested Cormorant (Fourche Bottoms – Borrow Ponds)

 

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 Holla Bend WNR 111319.JPG
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Shoveler Holla Bend WNR 111319.JPG
Northern Shovelers

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
Blue Grosbeak 090119 BKNWR
Blue Grosbeak
Great Blue Heron 090119 BKNWR
Great Blue Heron
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Ducks at Sunset
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Great Blue Heron

 

Day 7: Costa Rica

I love Senda Monteverde Hotel! However after a final morning walk, we left Monteverde for our final destination in Carrillo Beach in Guanacaste.

Along the way, we stopped once again in Abangares for gas, where I was entertained by the Macaws.

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Macaw

The views along the route were also pretty amazing.

*View 1 060119 Guanacaste

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We later stopped for lunch and a private, guided boat tour on the Bebedero River in the Tempisque River basin bordering Palo Verde National Park.

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We also saw so many crocodiles and babies!

We even saw monkeys, a giant anteater and bats! I need to emphasis how excited I was to see the bats!! I finally got a video of a basilisk running on water as well.

*Giant Anteater 060119 Bebedero River Boat RideJPG*Bats4 060119 Bebedero River Boat Ride

Our final days will be spent at Nammbú Beach Resort. I’ll admit I was not in the best of moods when I arrived – I was pure crankiness. I ended up taking a quick trip to check out the beach at sunset before getting in the pool to cool off and nab a drink from the poolside bar (which definitely helped).

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Day 5: Costa Rica

*Photo3 053019 Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding

We started our day off with a morning hike with the goal of spotting the Three-wattled Bellbird. We did not see it, although a couple that stayed behind because they were sick later spotted it near the hotel’s lobby. We ate breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. It overlooks the grounds, and we watched the below Lesson’s Motmot and Yellow-crowned Euphonia visit a tree just outside our window.

*Lesson's Motmot2 053019 Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding
Lesson’s Motmot
*Yellow-crowned Euphonia 053019 Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding
Yellow-crowned Euphonia

After a quick breakfast, we then went straight to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. The preserve was founded in 1972, and you want to arrive early to get assigned to the more popular trails. We arrived later than we had originally planned to so we were deferred to a less popular trail (although you still can’t go wrong on whatever trail you end up on). 

Throughout the whole hike, we were on a lookout for the Resplendent Quetzal, an endangered bird known for its colorful plumage and considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world. We were just about to leave the trail when we decided to walk up another side trail to an artificial nest set up by preserve staff. We got lucky – we found both a male and a female (which visited the nest). Another tour guide was sweet enough to take my phone and get a cell phone photo (below, top left) through his scope of the Resplendent Quetzal. We actually had a pair of sisters cry because they joined the group specifically to see this particular bird and they were so thrilled they got to see it.

Before we left the preserve, we stopped by their hummingbird/gift shop/cafe area where they had multiple hummingbird feeders set up for visitors to catch a closer glimpse of the various species of hummingbirds. I have to admit: this was my favorite part because hummingbirds are so darn beautiful and funny!

While traveling to our next stop for Finca Life Coffee Tour in Monteverde, we saw the below Masked Tityra on a telephone pole.

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Masked Tityra

Once at the coffee farm, we ate lunch before touring the farm and sampling the coffee. It was definitely fascinating to learn how the family-managed farm operates.

While I loved hearing about the history of the coffee farm and how it operates, I also enjoyed the birds we found. We actually saw a male Three-wattled Bellbird! It sat in a tree calling near a Pale-billed Woodpecker. Near the end of the tour while looking at the coffee beans in the field, we discovered a male juvenile calling and a Montezuma Oropendola that completed a series of bows from a tree branch as part of its mating ceremony.

Tonight, we went on a guided night walk at Curi Cancha Reserve, which includes 205 acres of primary and secondary forest. Only a few folks from the group went on the night walk, and afterwards, we ended up eating together in town at a local bar before heading back to crash. It was a fun walk, but I was disappointed in the lack of diversity in the amount of species we found – mainly because I really wanted to see an owl. But, we did see multiple bats and the below snake was a cool find!

Day 4: Costa Rica

*Bare-throated Tiger Heron1 with Burrowing Python 052919 Hacienda Solimar
Solimar Ranch: Bare-throated Tiger Heron with a struggling Burrowing Python that eventually got away.

While I liked Hacienda Guachipelin, we had issues with some of the air conditioner units leaking causing several of us to wake up to water all over the place. I enjoyed the stay, but I was ready to move on. We pulled out this morning for the next stage of our trip.

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While traveling to Monteverde, we stopped at the Solimar Ranch for lunch and a guided tour of the ranch and wetlands. The ranch is just south of the mouth of the Tempisque River. The owner/guide was impressive – he was great at spotting birds and you wanted to stay near him at all times! I loved watching the basilisks run across the top of the water and searching for the various birds, crocodiles and flowers. Up near the ranch house, there were gardens with tons of butterflies. While we ate, we watched a male and female Rose-throated Becards build their nest. The pair took turns entering the nest and frequently sat near or on the nest the whole time we were at the house.

One member of our group – a University of Arkansas grad student – had a neat find! He caught a boa constrictor that was in the process of catching a green iguana! Below is a video of him telling the story.

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After Solimar Ranch, we made a pit stop in Abangares for gas (apparently, no one can be in the vehicle when you fill up so we all had to get out). We used this time to visit a souvenir store, and get sweets (mango milkshake) at Cafeteria Mi Finca. We also stopped at a roadside place – Cafeteria Horizonte – to take in the views.

We eventually arrived at Senda Monteverde Hotel. I joined a group for dinner at its restaurant, which was so dang good even if the desert was too rich for me to finish. We were greeted by staff with drinks once again and our cabins are pretty amazing. There was a mix-up with our cabins, but it was quickly straightened up.

Just a little rain

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It seems Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (above) are the ducks this year. They were among the birds found during a recent rainy trip to Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. My most exciting find, though: Bobolinks.

(Click on the photo to see name of bird)

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