I’ve been heavily birding the past few weekends to take advantage of the birds passing through Arkansas. And I’ve gotten lucky with my sightings so far. This past weekend, a Lark Bunting was spotted in Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. Luckily, I was able to head that way about an hour or two after it was first reported. Boy, am I glad I headed that way. I went back the next morning and the bird could not be refound.
Lark Buntings are not common for Arkansas, but more to the mid-west of us. Think Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and moving up from there to parts of North Dakota, Montana, and Canada during the breeding season. Nonbreeding season is spent in Central Arkansas and parts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Here are a few other birds – and animals – I was excited to find:
Earlier this week, I took advantage of a free morning to take a hike on a new, roughly 2.5-mile trail off Lake Maumelle. Not only was the hike relaxing, there were tons of birds singing along the way. My most exciting find wasn’t actually on the trail but soaring above it. I happened to look up just as the above pictured Osprey was circling above. I’ve never actually seen an Osprey in Arkansas, although these hawks are pretty common in central part of the state. I actually thought this one was a Mississippi Kite until I took a photograph and zoomed in closer to take a better look.
While the Osprey was a first for me, I also enjoyed practicing my bird call recognition. I’ve started using the sound ID section of the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app. While it has listed a few birds as calling that I know are not found in Arkansas, the sound ID app has correctly ID’d quite a few birds that I didn’t recognize the calls of. Two such birds on this trip were the White-eyed Vireo and Yellow-throated Vireo.
The above-pictured Yellow-throated Vireo is actually the third one of its species that I have seen period. I found all three Yellow-throated Vireos within the past week – all thanks to the app’s Sound ID. I would record bird calls, the app would ID the bird call correctly as the Yellow-throated Vireo, and the bird would then respond when I played callbacks (each one has come out in the open, allowing me to get a picture). It’s pretty exciting. The Yellow-throated Vireo may be one of the most colorful members of the vireo family, but it can blend it pretty darn well.
A few weeks back – okay April, I’m just now getting to these photos – I visited Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area near Mayflower. It was my first time there, and I took the Kenny Vernon Nature Trail. It’s a 2.25 mile trail, and includes a variety of habitats such as flood fields, an area with a shale surface, and woods as well as elevation changes.
There is a boardwalk at the start of the trail, which was actually flooded so I went back to town and bought rain boots to go through the water in. But, it was worth it – the day was beautiful and there were tons of birds singing. Prothonotary Warblers were actually all over this section of the trail.
My most exciting find was a Kentucky Warbler (a first for me!!) that allowed me to get a really good look. Below are a few of my other finds:
A few weeks ago I visited Bufflehead Bay on Lake Maumelle, and it was warbler haven. While I saw favorites like the Pine Warbler and Summer Tanager, I also saw firsts for me: the Worm-eating Warbler and Yellow Warbler.
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.