Field Trip Report: Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois D’Arc WMA

Saturday, thirteen birders headed south to Hope to look for “southern” birds for the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas’s July field trip.  First stop was the McDonald’s in Hope, a reliable spot for french-fry scavaging Great-tailed Grackles.  The parking lot was hopping with GTGRs, including three juveniles begging mom to feed them more junk food.  We then headed to Bois D’Arc Wildlife Management Area south of Hope. We got very lucky on the weather. In spite of the close to 100 degree weather predicted, the morning temps stayed around the mid-80’s. Most stops had shade, and with a nice breeze blowing, we stayed reasonably comfortable.  We were entertained by Purple Gallinule chicks tottering around on the Water Lotus pads, little balls of fluff on top of their tall spindly legs and giant feet. Different families had different aged chicks.  One momma Common Gallinule led a line of five babies paddling along behind her as she wove through the lotus pads.  Green Herons were everywhere. Also seen were lots of Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, one Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorants, and four Anhingas.  Least Bitterns were their usual stubborn selves, with only one flying by all morning.

We also had land birds.  Red-headed Woodpeckers, Orchid Oriole, Summer Tanager, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Kingfisher, Eastern Kingbirds, lots of Red-winged Blackbirds, a soaring adult Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk, and Indigo Buntings.

We saw two alligators.  The second one was really big and had found himself the perfect resting place.  He was parked in the shade on the ground below the Cattle Egret rookery waiting for his feathered snacks to drop from above. It was obvious his strategy was working due to all the feathers scattered around him. In the middle of one of the rookeries, we found a Black-crowned Night-Heron on a nest, the second adult of the day.  An early-arriving birder had found a juvenile BCNH before we got to the WMA.

By noon the temperature was climbing quickly so we called it quits and headed home.  The dragonfly hunters had a great time also, spotting several more of the elusive and uncommon Two-striped Forceptail Dragonfly.  A fun day with great birds and great birders.

Karen Holliday

ASCA Field Trip Coordinator

Field Trip: July 14, Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois D’Arc WMA

Hope, Hempstead County

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’ll stop at the McDonalds in Hope (Exit 30 off I-30) around 8:45 a.m. for those in south Arkansas who would like to join us.  Look for Great-tailed Grackles at McDonalds.  We should arrive at the Bois D’Arc WMA at 9:15 a.m.  Our target birds will be Purple and Common Gallinules and their chicks, Least Bitterns, Anhingas, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, 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 to eat lunch in town.

 

Bois D‘Arc WMA is located 10 miles south of Hope.  Take Exit 30 off I-30 and go east.  Continue 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 3-way 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, then turn left onto the first gravel road and go down to the lake.  GPS: 33.558062, -93.694239