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.
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.
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 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.
I’ve spent the past few days trying to get a better glimpse of a male Spotted Towhee that’s been found at a local park in Little Rock. The above photo is the best photo and look I’ve gotten so far, although I know it is the bird in question since it responded to call backs I played and other birders got better glimpses of it right before I arrived.
The Spotted Towhee is not as commonly found in Arkansas as it’s relative, the Eastern Towhee. The male of both towhees are robin-sized. They have black heads, throats and backs with a white belly that has brown streaks along each side. The Spotted Towhee has white streaks along it’s wings and back while the Eastern Towhee has a white bar on the edge of its wings but not as many white streaks.
The range of the Spotted Towhee is typically more to the west of Arkansas with the non breeding season range including parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, according to All About Birds.
I was trying to decide how to spend the day when I opened an email about a rare hummingbird in Arkansas. Decision made.
A Mexican Violetear was spotted in Eureka Springs for four days – I saw it on Day 4. These hummingbirds are larger than the state’s more common Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and is bright green with a dark violet cheek and breast patches. They are typically found in Mexico and Nicaragua, although it has been found across the United States over the years. After the Arkansas visitor was found, another one was reported in Oklahoma (more experienced birders than me speculate they are different ones due to coloring).
Either way, the Eureka Springs hummingbird was a beautiful sight although a little skittish and fast moving for good photo taking (at least for me). But, it was definitely a great sighting and trip.
This rusty-colored adult male hummingbird has made a temporary home in Benton. The homeowner was gracious enough to let me stop by Thursday to see the Rufous Hummingbird. He was a little shy, but he hung out around the back patio area and in the wooded backyard for most of my visit.
Rufous Hummingbirds are usually found out western United States. According to allaboutbirds.org, they travel about 4,000 miles from breeding grounds in Alaska/ northwest Canada to wintering sites in Mexico.
A white-winged Scoter was the first rare bird I have ever found. White-winged Scoters are large sea ducks that can hold their breath for a minute or more as they dive deep underwater for food. In the winter, they are found along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They are typically found in the upmost part of the United States and most of northern Canada and Alaska.
My bird was found on February 9, 2014, at Craighead Forest Park. Interestingly, it was not the first white-winged scoter found in Arkansas that year. Several others were found across the state in Northwest Arkansas.
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.