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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.

Karen Holliday
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator