Photos: Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

For the past few days now, a Red-necked Grebe has been spotted at the city park in Jonesboro, Ark. Today marked my fourth visit to find this rare-to-Arkansas grebe. It was actually becoming frustrating because people would see it right before and right after I was there – I just wouldn’t see it.

This visit started off on a good note. I parmed near the entrance to the park with the plan to walk around the lake and not leave until I saw it or it got dark. With minutes, I found Eastern Bluebirds and Yellow-rumped Warblers flinging in the trees overhead while Mallards, Canada Geese and American Coots scrambled after the food a family was tossing to them. I walked the gravel trail along the water for a minute or two to discover Ruddy Ducks in the water and a Red-breasted Nuthatch in a nearby tree.

Ruddy Ducks
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Immediately after these sightings, I found a Horned Grebe. This grebe is common in the state during its non breeding season especially in October when it’s migrating, according to All About Birds.

Non breeding Horned Grebe

I sat and watched the Horned Grebe for a little bit before deciding to move on. But, I only took a few steps before I saw a water bird fly in just ahead of me. It was the Red-necked Grebe and it swam along the shoreline toward me so I just sat back down.

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebes are not common to most of the United States – their range crosses a little over the nation’s northern border, according to All About Birds. They typically are found in Canada and Alaska. The last time one was found in Arkansas was two years ago, and this is probably the 11th time one has been spotted in the state.

I was at the park for 30 minutes max, but it turned out highly successful.

Searching For Red Crossbills

Bird3-Red Crossbill

Arkansas’ latest rare birds are 15 Red Crossbills that are making the Fayetteville Country Club their home. A fellow birder and I decided to head that way today to find them.

We luckily ran into two experienced birders at the country club who let us tag along with them. One was great at calling birds and we ended up finding a native Red- Breasted Nuthatch and a Brown Creeper.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper
Brown Creeper

We mainly stayed near pine trees since Red Crossbills (found in northern and western United States) love to cling to pine cones and extract the cones’ seeds. We were only there for a short while before, luckily, other birders at the course found them for us. In the past, other birders said they searched for two-to-three hours before finally discovering them.

Anyway, we joined a small group to look at the three Red Crossbills that were noisily eating away. It was so fascinating that none of us figured out that there were 12 more Red Crossbills in the tree next to us.

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We finally figured it out when all 15 — seven males and eight females — flew to a nearby tree. It was actually a better location since the tree had no leaves. They flew to a third tree that was even better to photograph them in before finally diving down to the pond for a drink of water.

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It was definitely a sight worth seeing except for when they finally flew off after taking a drink. I thought two Red Crossbills were going to take me out as they flew past. Luckily, they just missed my face.

We didn’t stay in Fayetteville afterwards. We drove straight back home with a detour to Lake Dardenelle. A couple, who has birded for more than 20 years, invited us to their cabin to see all the birds that flock to the lake.

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And, boy, did we get lucky. The couple pulled out their scope and we were able to view (and unfortunately not get pictures of) a Western Grebe, a Pacific Loon and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull, all rare.

We were also able to view the more common species like a Horned Grebe, a Common Loon, a Pied-Billed Grebe, a Common Golden-Eye, Snow Geese, Ring-Billed Gulls and American Pelicans.

The only picture I was able to take was of the Ring-Billed Gulls.

Ring-Billed Gulls
Ring-Billed Gulls