May 12th was the new World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) combined with International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), the first-ever Audubon Arkansas’s BirdLR Birdathon, and ASCA’s May field trip. Talk about a packed day! Starting at 7:00 a.m. twenty-four participants of Team ASCA dashed around Pulaski County trying to find as many bird species as possible. The Bird Dudes and the Little Rockhoppers Birdathon teams briefly joined the group off and on during the day, helping spot species we were missing, then splitting off again to do their own dashing around. Our first stop was Gillam Park in southeast Pulaski County near the airport. Gillam is usually a spring migrant hotspot, but birds were few and far between. We couldn’t even rustle up a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher! We did have five turtles and three ticks. A Wood Duck pair, sleeping on a log in the slough, were flanked by four of the turtles. A very cooperative Chestnut-sided Warbler and a female Redstart flitted around in a low bush giving everyone super close looks. The most abundant and noisiest birds were singing Kentucky Warblers and Wood Thrushes, with a few Indigo Buntings and Summer Tanagers thrown in.
Next stop was the Custom Metals building on Fourche Dam Pike. This has been a favored nesting site for Western Kingbirds during the last several years. Their numbers have been increasing in the Industrial Park area. We had a least eight perched on the fences or fly-catching around the building, along with several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.
Third stop was the park at the David D. Terry West dam site. Finally some birds! We found Yellow-billed Cuckoos, oodles of Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, and Black-and-white Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, a Philadelphia Vireo, a kettle of Mississippi Kites, a large flock of Cedar Waxwings, and one lone Double-crested Cormorant. The Bird Dudes Team reappeared and we traded looks at our warblers for looks at the three Painted Buntings they had just found nearby. Sharing the Bird Love!
Final stop was Cook’s Landing to find the Forster’s Terns the Bird Dudes had spotted on their earlier foray to the north side of the river. At least five were sitting on snags or soaring and diving. Numerous American White Pelicans were resting on the sandbar and drifting in the current below the spillway. Last species for the ASCA team’s count was the busy group of Cliff Swallows nesting under the Big Dam Bridge. Team ASCA finished the delightfully fun day with 74 species. A summary of Audubon Arkansas’s BirdLR Birdathon can be found at https://ar.audubon.org/news/birdlr-birdathon-results.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator