Thirty-five birders spent Saturday, June 8 rambling around Mt. Magazine State Park enjoying the warm, sunny weather. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center where Don Simons, Park Interpreter, oriented us to the park. Don then led us to the Benefield Picnic Area. Along the entrance road and in the parking lot, we spotted Eastern Bluebird parents showing their youngsters how to swoop down into the grass to snag tasty bugs. We also heard and saw Great-crested Flycatchers, Hooded Warblers, Pine Warblers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, and Summer Tanagers. At the Hang Gliding Area, we found our target bird-a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, plus got close looks at a Blue Grosbeak and an Ovenbird.
On the west side of the lodge along the cliff, we found a Black-throated Green Warbler, then were surprised by a Prairie Warbler who popped up out of the honeysuckle. We also found a Rufous-crowned Sparrow skulking in the juniper bushes, plus a second one singing further along the path. A brilliant male Scarlet Tanager flashed past, eliciting gasps of delight from the group.
Following lunch, we caravanned to the Brown Springs Trail, where we were joined by our final birder of the day, Lori Spencer, Arkansas’s best-known butterfly expert. Lori identified and educated us about the numerous plants along the trail and the butterflies nectaring on many of those plants. Lori also entertained us with stories of how she met Don and their joint work on their “Arkansas Butterflies and Moths” book. Returning along the trail, we stopped to watch a male Scarlet Tanager signing in the top of a bare tree, plus listened and watched two singing Wood Thrushes in the undergrowth, and heard more Ovenbirds. We ended the day with a total of thirty-six birders, thirty-three species of birds, and eighteen species of butterflies.