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Meet at 7:00 a.m. in North Little Rock in the Other Center parking lot, the east side behind McDonald’s. Take Exit 1 West off US-67/167. The Other Center is on McCain Blvd. across from McCain Mall. We’ll arrive at Bald Knob NWR at around 8:30 a.m. for those who want to meet us there. Look for the line of cars parked on Coal Chute Road. The federal refuge is also a National Audubon Important Bird Area. We expect to see shorebirds, herons, night-herons, egrets, and possibly Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills. It will be very hot so bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat. If you have a scope, bring it. Very little walking will be involved. There is no bathroom on-site. There is a McDonald’s just off Hwy. 67/167 at Bald Knob Exit 55. Go to www.fws.gov/baldknob/ for driving directions and more information about the refuge. GPS: 35.260233, -91.571903

Speaker: Sarah Scanlon

As people we relate to the world based on our issues, our interests, and our values. When we are advocating for or against a particular issue we often miss the mark because we don’t make the connection for the listener between how what we are asking for matches their issue, interests or values. All too often we feel as though we are yelling into the wind and we can’t understand why people don’t just listen to what we say. Together we can work on what that looks like when we are talking about the environment and specifically Audubon’s priorities.

Sarah Scanlon most recently served as the National Director of Outreach for the LGBT Community and the Arkansas State Director for Bernie 2016 Campaign. She has served as the State Director for the Arkansas Voter Registration Project and State Director for Give Arkansas A Raise. Both projects were focused on increasing registered voters in the African American communities and then turning them out to vote on economic issues in Arkansas. She has also worked with Wellstone Action, a nonprofit based in St. Paul Minnesota with a mission to ignite leadership in people, and power in communities, to win change in the progressive tradition of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. Her primary focus was training activists and potential political candidates on how to run and win effective elections. Sarah has a long history of working on political campaigns all over the country, working on union organizing campaigns all over the country, and building collaborative efforts to influence and create good public policy. When not on the road agitating for progressive change she lives in North Little Rock with her wife and young daughter.

Waking up at 5:45am to thunder, lightning, and rain for Saturday’s ASCA’s trip to south Arkansas is a field trip leader’s worst nightmare.  A quick check of the radar was encouraging, showing the line of rain only through central Arkansas.  Having only five people show up at the departure site was discouraging.  On the two hour trip south, passing through several heavy rain squalls, I questioned my rule that trips are only cancelled if there is snow or ice predicted. Finally, a few miles from Hope, the clouds thinned and the rain stopped.  Rounding up additional birders at the McDonald’s in Hope, first making sure everyone saw the Great-tailed Grackles, we headed to the AGFC Bois D’Arc WMA.  We had nice cloud cover for most of the morning, which kept the temperature down.  With the temperature never getting above 92°, that was a nice bonus for July birding.

At the WMA, we met up as arranged with Brad Townsend and Cameron Tatom, AGFC biologists for the WMA.  That upped our people count to a total of twenty-two.  The biologists were so generous, spending their Saturday helping us find birds and educating us about the WMA.  Our first stop netted Purple and Common Gallinules and their chicks.  We witnessed a fierce battle among five Purple Gallinules, but there were no casualties.  Anhingas, Little Blue, Great Blue, and Green Herons, Cattle and Great Egrets, and one juvenile Snowy Egret were our water birds.  We also had a nice mix of woods birds, which included Red-headed Woodpeckers, Yellow-throated Vireos, Common Yellowthroat, Summer Tanagers, Eastern Wood-peewees, Eastern Kingbirds, Black and Turkey Vultures.

Highlights at the second stop were more Anhingas, Gallinules, and Green Herons, plus Tree Swallows, Black Terns, and a COMMON TERN.  We also had a very large alligator, which caused quite a stir with the group.

On the back side of the dam, an adult Bald Eagle sat patiently in a tree next to the gravel road for great looks and lots of photos.  Just a few feet further down, we found an adult male Painted Bunting and spent 15 minutes admiring the bird and it’s singing as it moved from bare branch to bare branch for great looks.  We also found a second alligator.

On to the Cattle Egret rookery which hosts close to 400 birds.  Very busy with lots of chicks in their nests and much noisy squabbling.  A Black-crowned Night-Heron and its chick were spotted tucked up in the middle of the rookery.  A second BCNH flew in and circled the rookery providing excellent diagnostic looks.

Last stop was the far east side of the lake and our last hope for Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  No BBWDs. Big disappointment.  But, we finally found a Least Bittern, who gave us peek-a-boo looks.  Plus, we had a fly-over of another Black-crowned Night-Heron.

The group called it a day around 1:30pm with a total of 54 species.  We dodged the rain, netted a great list of south Arkansas birds, plus alligators, and met two enthusiastic, bird-loving AGFC biologists.  We had way too much fun on a hot July day!
Karen Holliday
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator