Bald Knob NWR

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American Golden-Plover

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.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
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American Golden-Plover
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Yellow-headed Blackbird
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Nutria
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Northern Rough-winged swallow
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Dickcissel
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Yellow-breasted Chat
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Eastern Towhee
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Swamp Sparrow
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White-faced Ibis
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Great Blue Heron

Wapanocca NWR I

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My aunt has lived in Marion since I was a little girl. My sister and I would stay with her to make cookies at Christmastime and to visit the Memphis Zoo. I have tons of memories of visiting her house, however, none of them include Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge in Turrell.

Wapanocca is about 15 minutes north of her house and, apparently has a long history with my family. My grandmother and dad both visited the refuge from time to time. I was just introduced this year.

Previously the site of the Wapanocca Outing Club (a hunting club), the 5,485-acre refuge was established in 1961 to provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl and consists of mainly agricultural land, bottomland hardwood forest, reforested hardwoods, open water and flooded cypress/willow swamp.

My first visit there was with fellow birders. I spent the night with my aunt and slowly made my way to the refuge to meet the others. I knew it was going to be a great trip when I spotted the below coyotes (oddly, my first viewing) just outside of the refuge.

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Coyotes

Here’s some more of my non-bird sighting:

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Photo essay: Gigi & I

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

My grandmother, Gigi, and I share a love of birds. So, a hummingbird banding workshop was the perfecting outing for us to spend some time together. Luckily, the Saturday workshop was from 1-4 p.m. at the Potlatch Conservation Education Center in Casscoe, which gave me plenty of time to pick her up in Jonesboro and stop at Jack Ryan’s Convenience store to pick up some of their oh-so-good sandwiches for lunch.

I’ve been going to the workshop for three years now and I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with it. There were no little kids this time so Gigi and I were both able to release a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird after they were banded. It was a pretty neat experience since the hummingbirds sat for a moment before flying off. Later, we drove down to the dock to see how high the White River was.

Here’s pictures:

Banding the first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
Banding the first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
Gigi releasing the first hummingbird.
Gigi releasing the first hummingbird, a male.
I got to release the last.
I got to release the last, a female who was also the rowdiest.
Close up of mine.
Close up of mine.
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
This one was already banded.
This one was already banded.
Already banded.
Another look at the already-banded hummingbird.
Eastern Bluebird that posed as we headed down to the dock.
Eastern Bluebird that posed as we headed down to the dock.
The White River water level is pretty high right now.
The White River water level is pretty high right now.
The dock at the White River. We were still able to access the floating ramp.
The dock at the White River. We were still able to access the floating ramp.
We found this lady bug on the floating ramp along with ...
We found this lady bug on the floating ramp along with …
This Broad-headed Skink (lizard) and ...
This Broad-headed Skink (lizard) and …
This frog who jumped off the ramp as I approached.
This frog who jumped off the ramp as I approached.
We spent our trip back to Jonesboro look for any wildlife. We saw very few.
We spent our trip back to Jonesboro look for any wildlife. We saw very few.

It was a day well spent.

 

Photo essay: An overflowing garden

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To say my aunt is a gardener is putting it lightly. Her yard is her pride and joy as well as a year-round showcase. I love visiting her to discover what’s new in her garden (and plus because she’s simply amazing). It kills me that the gardening gene went to my sister and not me. I have a black thumb.

Anyway, here’s what was blooming at my last visit:

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Drumroll … New bird visitor at my home

I’ve lived in Stuttgart for three years this August. During this time, my main feathered visitors have been house sparrows, cardinals, doves, American robins and blackbirds. And, of course, the occasional cedar waxwing.

Now, I love having these constant birds. Don’t get me wrong, but I decided late last summer I wanted for more variety. And I finally took action after months of just thinking about it. I actually kept my feeders full, switching to a more fruitier blend to attract another variety of birds (which my usual crowd still likes) and put up my first hummingbird feeder.

The results were slow. I received my first hummingbird late last summer. This spring, I woke up to a rose-breasted grosbeak singing at my feeder. And I recently discovered the below American goldfinch. Today, I finally had what I believe was a House finch.

I see most of the birds first thing in the morning, around 7 to 7:30. And honestly, the finds are a great energy boost for my day. So, hopefully the birds will keep on visiting.

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The Cat House

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Gray and Marble.

My family has a habit of “rescuing” kittens … although in hindsight they might not have needed saving. My sister rescued a kitten she found running down a sidewalk after two boys. I rescued a kitten playing in the street while HUGE dogs ran its way. My mom broke the tradition by rescuing a one-eyed cat that was really annoying (it has since disappeared) and later rescuing the meanest kitten I have ever met (we gave him away). Our cat collection literally began in that order.

All of these cats now live at my parents’ house in the country along with my parents’ older yorkie and occasional visits of the pets my sister and I have. Needless to say, we were out of room for pets. Well, my dad put his foot down — no more.

So, this past weekend was a shocker. It started off typical with my dad needing to run by the local Knights of Columbus Hall to check on things. Well, apparently it was more to check on the two kittens he found abandoned at the back door.

Why was this shocking? My dad knew by bringing my mom to the KC Hall that those kittens were going home with them. He later kind of admitted to it. However, it’s a decision I don’t think anyone has regretted. I’ve never seen a cat so sweet or playful as these two.

From the beginning, the two ran up to us to play or give us kisses. We’re already in love with them. So, welcome to the family Gray and Marble. 🙂