It’s been a fun several weeks watching birds. We’ve had both Baltimore Orioles and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at our feeders – and each time one appears we fangirl over them like it’s the first time they’ve appeared. I was excited to find a few others out in the area, such as the below Red-eyed Vireo.
This weekend, I visited Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge and, OH MY GOSH, it was a FANTASTIC weekend. I recorded a record number of birds in eBird that included some firsts for me. Here are my highlights:
I was off work today (yay!), although my family still kept me busy most of the day. In my downtime, I continued going through photos on my computer to cut down the numbers. Here’s a few gems that I found and realized were not marked off my bird list as found.
Just FYI, the above one of a Saw-Whet Owl is my favorite. In 2015, I went to a banding workshop where a University of Arkansas student put out nets to catch and band Saw-Whet Owls. I was lucky – he caught and banded one the first night I went. I went to another banding workshop a few years later, although unfortunately no birds were caught that night. His work is pretty incredible. Saw whet owls are one of the smallest owl species in North America, and are one of the most common (and seldom seen) owls in forests across northern U.S. Arkansas is in the Saw-Whet Owl’s non-breeding range (although sightings are scarce). In Arkansas, only a dozen sightings were reported between 1959 and 2010 before the UA student and his professor captured and documented one in 2015.
Here’s some more finds from over the past few years:
On Saturday, some family members and I traveled to Heber Springs to see the trumpeter swans at Magness Lake and two nearby lakes. It was a success – we saw roughly 200 or more! Trumpeter swans, once endangered, are the largest waterfowl species in North America, according to allaboutbirds.org.
All of the lakes we found trumpeter swans at are on private property. But, the property owners are kind enough to let people visit the lakes to see the swans and other ducks, geese, and birds that are there. Each lake had a gravel parking lot, and feeders or bags of corn out for people to feed the swans.
Magness Lake, itself, is owned and fully funded by the family of Larry Glenn and Patti Winemiller Eason. It is the easiest lake to find and the family has even placed out signs welcoming people to the lake as well as explaining the rules and history of the swans. According to the family, the swans were first reported in the area in winter 1992 and have since returned each year, bringing more each time. The original three swans have now grown to 200-300 swans visiting.
We wrapped up the trip with a stop at Peggy Sue’s Place for lunch. While they don’t accept debit/credit cards, they did serve a great meal! Of everyone’s lunches, I especially enjoyed the chicken fried steak, side salad, fried squash and all of the desserts!
Here are some another photo I like, as well as one of a Ross Goose.
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:
While the Say’s Phoebe I photographed the other day caught my attention and excitement immediately, it wasn’t the only bird I saw. The Say’s Phoebe just happened to be the only rare-to-the-area one.
I also saw a Merlin – a first for me.
The Northern Flickers have been visiting my backyard for the past several weeks. This past weekend, they have started tapping on the sides (and a vent pipe) of my house. Talk about annoying – even if the birds are just plain beautiful.
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.