On Saturday, June 13, the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas headed to the newly opened Sunset Trail located on Lower Lake DeGray, Clark Co. This area is relatively unknown to most people. Our 22 birders had the trail to ourselves, which meant we had a lovely, slow stroll. We skirted the lower lake which had Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Kingfishers. The trail then veered off into a mixed wooded habitat of pines and large, old hardwoods, with some open spaces. We were able to focus on the birds and help our birders learn some of the songs and calls of species who nest in Arkansas during the summer. Our target bird was Cerulean Warbler, which was a no-show. A female Black-and-white Warbler fooled several birders into thinking we had a Cerulean, but closer looks confirmed it was the Black-and-white. A very cooperative Northern Parula perched on low bare branches giving our newer birders a terrific close-up view. Pine Warblers also put on a show. A Yellow-throated Warbler called repeatedly but wouldn’t come in close. Orchard Orioles provided good looks. Yellow-billed Cuckoos were heard throughout the morning, but only one came close for a better view. Indigo Buntings were found in the open spaces. At the picnic area, we had two Prothonotary Warblers singing incessantly, plus a couple dozen Purple Martins, two Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Kingbirds, and an Eastern Phoebe. The trail holds a lot of promise for a future ASCA spring migrant field trip. This trail along the shallower, lower lake area will be a great field trip for the Arkansas Audubon Society’s fall conference November 13-15, which is being held at the Lake DeGray State Park Lodge.
Speaking of the Lodge, we ate lunch there after the field trip. The food was good and the parking lot was full of birds. Best birds to finish the trip were chattering Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, an Orchard Oriole, and Chipping Sparrows. All were fun to see, plus our lunch break helped us dodged the rain showers that rolled through around noon.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator
Little Rock, AR
Meet at 7:00 a.m. at the south end of the commuter parking lot at the I-630/I-430 intersection at Shackleford Road in Little Rock. We should arrive at the trailhead around 8:00 a.m. for those who would like to meet us there. This new trail opened in early April. It is an ADA accessible 1-mile trail, with a level paved surface. It winds through the forested edge of Lower Lake DeGray. The lower lake is much smaller and quieter than the main lake and offers some superb wildlife viewing opportunities. Cerulean Warblers have been documented in the area. Time permitting, we may check the upper lake area trails also.
The trailhead is on Hwy. 390, approximately 2 miles west of Exit 78/Caddo Valley off I-30. The turn onto Hwy. 390 is immediately off I-30. Follow the signs to Lower Lake. At the turn to the boat ramp, continue straight until you reach the trailhead parking lot. The bathrooms are open year-round. GPS coordinates: 34.180313, -93.097702.
Speaker: Mark Brown, UA Cooperative Extension
As the spring rains become a distant memory and the summer drought sets in, June is a great time to learn how to use less water and save money by incorporating some easy tips on plants, soils, and maintenance of your landscape.
Mark Brown has been with UA Research and Extension in Little Rock for four years. His duties include promoting turfgrass management and outdoor water efficiency programs with Central Arkansas Water. Previously, he worked on golf course and sports field management and also lawn care management. Mark graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.S. in Horticulture and Turfgrass Science. He currently is pursuing an M.S. in Plant Science.