ASCA Field Trip
Oct. 24, 2015
Joe Hogan Fish Hatchery and Bob Long Road, Lonoke Co.
The October field trip of the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas (ASCA) was almost a washout. Heavy rains were predicted for the entire weekend. In spite of the rain, John Webb, Randy Robinson, and Greg Wolfe showed up and won the Rubber Ducky Award for birding non-stop until noon! As we headed from Prothro Junction toward Lonoke, we ran into a deluge of rain. We said oh no, this will be the shortest field trip on record. But, by the time we arrived at the Joe Hogan Fish Hatchery, the rain had slowed to a drizzle. We sheltered under the roof overhang of the main building and watched a flock of 60 Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting in and out of the tall shrubs and foraging in the nearby trees, along with two very wet Mockingbirds, and two Brown Thrashers. We then worked our way around the ponds. Only one drained pond had shorebirds. It contained 12 Wilson’s Snipe, 10 Least Sandpipers, and close to 30 Killdeer. Birds in the filled ponds were Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, Pied-billed Grebes, a couple of American Coots and Double-crested Cormorants. We heard a “giggling call” call and looked up to see a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese flying over. As we left the Hatchery, over a dozen Eurasian Collared Doves were hanging out on the wires, plus a Belted Kingfisher. Two Northern Flickers were facing off on top of the Hatchery sign giving each other the “stink eye”.
At Bob Long Road, we stopped first in the wooded section and found a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a flock of Blue Jays. We then checked all the ponds along the road down to the bridge across the irrigation ditch. All the ponds had water. They contained small groups of Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, American Coots, Double-crested Cormorants, Pied-billed Grebes, and lots of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons. Raptors were American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks. Three Franklin’s Gulls did a flyover, the white trailing edges of their wings confirmed they were Franklin’s and not Laughing Gulls. Grass birds included a brief look at a Sedge Wren, 3 Eastern Phoebes, plus Song, Swamp, Savannah, and White-throated Sparrows. We had lots of Barn and Tree Swallows at both Bob Long and the Hatchery.
A dozen Eastern Meadowlarks and a flock of 130 Canada Geese were our last birds of the trip. We made it back to Prothro Junction, damp around the edges and muddy, just before heavy rain settled back in. We saw a total of 46 species, pretty darn good for an extremely soggy morning. I was very proud of my “Duckies”.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator