Warren Prairie Natural Area
Hwy. 278- east of Warren, AR
Meet at 7:00 a.m. at the Dixon Road commuter lot, Exit 3 off I-530 south. We should get to the Warren Prairie Natural Area parking lot on Hwy. 172 around 9:00 a.m. for those who would like to meet us there. Our target bird is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW). The young fledge around the last part of May through mid-June, so RCW family groups should still be in the general cluster areas. Warren Prairie is an Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission site located in the Coastal Plain and consists of a mosaic of saline barrens, salt slicks, post oak flatwoods, prairie mound woodlands, pine woodlands, and bottomland hardwood forest communities. It is also a global National Audubon Society Important Bird Area (IBA). Bill Holimon, Natural Heritage ornithologist and Chief of Research who manages the RCW population and its habitat, will join us. He will explain the history of the RCW project, provide an update on the status of the project, and give an overview of the special features of the saline barrens and the specialized plants and animals that inhabit this unique environment.
Bring scopes, boots, bug spray, water, sunscreen, and snacks/lunch. There are no bathroom facilities at the Prairie. There is a McDonald’s in Warren. From Warren, take U.S. Highway 278 East approximately 4.5 miles, across the Saline River, to the junction of State Highway 172 (Old Hwy. 8). Turn right (south) and proceed 2.0 miles to parking lot and sign on the left (east). GPS coordinates are [33.57956, -91.98643]
May 6, 2017
Saturday morning started out cool and sunny at Gillam Park in south Little Rock. Twenty-seven birders immediately started working on their “warbler-necks” by peering intently into the tops of trees. We were rewarded with sightings of Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, and Black-throated Green Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwings, and an American Redstart. We witnessed a fierce battle between a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The Hummer was sitting on its nest, but the Gnatcatchers would dive in and pull lichen off the Hummingbird’s nest and carry it to their nest. The Hummer was outnumbered and lost a couple of chunks of lichen. Further down the trail, we found Kentucky, Tennessee, and Nashville Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings. We hit the Vireo jackpot with Blue-headed, White-eyed, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and Warbling Vireos. A Gray Catbird jumped out into the middle of the trail, took one look at us and immediately dove back into the bushes. At the slough area we tried for Prothonotary Warblers. No luck, but a nice surprise was a Golden-winged Warbler. We had Mississippi Kites soaring overhead and flyovers of Wood Ducks.
Next was a quick stop at the Little Rock Audubon Center. Dr. Scheiman showed us his recently acquired large collection of bird specimens dating back to the early 1900’s. Dan has been busily cataloging the collection so it can be donated to research groups.
On to the Little Rock Port Authority to look for the Western Kingbirds who nest each summer in that area. We found a pair perched up on the power lines, giving everyone great looks. Also seen were Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Dickcissels, and a Loggerhead Shrike. At the turn off of Frazier Pike Road onto the Damsite Road, which leads to the David D. Terry Lock and Dam, we stopped in amazement at the sight of hundreds and hundreds of Bobolinks. The fields on either side of the road were swarming with Bobolinks. Wave after wave would fly up out of the wheat, circle around then dive back down into the wheat and tall grasses. Groups would perch on the fences, their golden heads and backs glowing in the sunlight. There were so many you could easily hear them singing above the wind.
Last stop was the damsite spillway. The Painted Buntings were a no-show. The Chats were quite vocal but chose to stay hidden in the brush. We had more soaring Mississippi Kites and one singing Marsh Wren. We finished the day around 1:30 p.m. with approximately 60 species.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator
Little Rock, Pulaski Co.
Celebrate the migration of birds moving from their winter non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean to their summer nesting grounds in North America. It will be a great day to be outside in nature! Meet at 7:30 a.m. in Gillam Park at the last parking lot past the swimming pool. Gillam has great habitat for spring warblers and other migrants. There will be moderate walking on fairly level, but possibly muddy trails. When finished at Gillam, we’ll drive to the Audubon Center and walk the wildlife observation trail. Last, we’ll head to Industrial Harbor Road and Terry Lock & Dam to look for Western Kingbirds and Painted Buntings. This is a morning trip. Bring water and snacks. Wear sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots.
Directions—Gillam Park is in southeast Little Rock near the airport. Address is 5300 Gillam Park Road, Little Rock. Take I-30 West heading south from Little Rock. Then exit onto I-440 going towards the airport. Take Exit 1-Springer Road. At the bottom of the exit ramp, turn left onto Springer Road. Go approximately 1 mile to just past the LRAC. Turn right onto Gillam Park Road. Follow it into the park to the last parking lot past the swimming pool.
Also in May is the International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) on May 13. Count the birds you see and enter your sightings into eBird. May 13 is also the third annual eBird Global Big Day. To learn more about the eBird Global Big Day go to http://eBird.org/globalbigday