July 11, 2015
Dr. Lester Sitzes, III Bois D’Arc Lake WMA
Saturday, we had twenty-five enthusiastic birders who met at the Bois D’Arc Lake WMA area just outside of Hope, AR in Hempstead County. The group included a birder from Zimbabwe who picked up at least 6 life birds. We found our first good bird of the day at the McDonald’s in Hope. Great-tailed Grackles have moved north and are now seen on a regular basis at this location. We saw both male and female grackles.
At the WMA, we found a plethora of species common to south Arkansas. Throughout the morning, we saw and heard Purple and Common Gallinules. They were everywhere, picking their way across the Water Lotus plants. At several locations we watched juvenile birds tottering along on long legs and giant feet, hopping from lily pad to lily pad, following their parents. One momma bird was standing above her babies, who were resting underneath, sheltering in the shade of her body. A shout went up when the first alligator was seen. Soon after, a second gator was spotted.
Dozens and dozens of Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and Green Herons all nest around the lake. We watched both adults and juveniles feeding and being fed. A Caspian Tern and three Forster’s Terns swooped and dove along the far side of the lake, along with dozens of Tree, Cliff, and Barn Swallows. A Least Bittern responded to playback but was reluctant to show itself. Only two Anhingas were seen on this visit.
In the back water below the lake, we found several White Ibises and two cooperative Painted Buntings. We then traveled to the far side of the lake to the egret rookery. At least 200 hundred Cattle Egrets fussed and fought for space. Noisy and stinky, the trees full of birds and nests, it was a great opportunity to observe rookery behavior. Mixed in were three nesting Black-crowned Night-Herons, which were life birds for several in the group. Another large alligator was spotted and photographed.
With enough shade throughout the morning and great birds, we stayed at the lake until around 1:00pm. On a recommendation for THE hamburger place in Hope, many of the group headed to Tailgaters for a fun and delicious end to another terrific ASCA birding trip.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator
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 will stop at the McDonalds in Hope (Exit 30 off I-30) around 9:00 a.m. for those in south Arkansas who would like to join us. Or, meet us at Bois D’Arc WMA at 9:30 a.m. Our target birds will be Purple and Common Gallinules and their young, Least Bittern, Anhingas, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, herons, egrets, and possibly an alligator or two! Very little walking will be involved. Bring scopes, plenty of water, snacks, and lunch. There are several restaurants in Hope if you prefer.
Bois D‘Arc WMA is located 10 miles south of Hope. Take Exit 30 off I-30 and turn east. Go past McDonald’s, then under the railroad overpass. At the light at the big intersection, turn right onto Hwy. 67. Go 1/3 of a mile. At the brown sign, turn left onto Hwy. 174. Take Hwy. 174 south 6 miles to the stop sign at Spring Hill. Turn right onto Hwy. 355. Go west for 4 miles. Turn right at the white wooden WMA sign just before the highway ends in the lake. Follow the paved road and take the first gravel road to the left down to the lake. GPS coordinates: 33.558062, -93.694239
Greening Schools Across Arkansas
Speaker: Linda Smith, U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council – Arkansas Chapter is a nonprofit organization whose 300 members work to promote green buildings for everyone in the state. Come learn about new and renovated school buildings in every corner of Arkansas that save energy and water, and have demonstrated healthier indoor air quality. Find out what 90 student-led teams are doing with the Arkansas Green Schools Challenge to green their own campuses.
Linda K. Smith became Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council – Arkansas Chapter in 2009. She is an active community volunteer for large nonprofit construction projects and served as the owner’s representative for the renovation of the historic Junior League Building and as the Building Committee chair for the renovation of Second Presbyterian Church. In 2010, she was named the Jane Mendel Volunteer of the Year for the Little Rock School District. She currently serves on the Little Rock Sustainability Commission, as the Sustainer Advisor to the Junior League of Little Rock Nonprofit Center, on the Stewpot Board of Directors, on the Delta Gamma Alumnae Board, and on the Ferncliff Camp Construction Advisory Committee. Her passion is public school and math curriculum improvement.