Federal shutdowns and a chance of rain didn’t stop a few diehard birders from making the trip to Millwood Lake. The group met at Beard’s Bluff. The trees around the observation deck yielded two Yellow-throated Warblers, an Eastern Phoebe, a rather chatty Blue Jay and an equally chatty Red-bellied Woodpecker. On the lake numerous Great Egrets were scattered among a few Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants. No gulls or ducks were present.
With most of the access areas to Millwood Lake closed and news that Charles Mills and Michael Linz had found Cave Swallows the day before at another location, the group was eager to head out. After a 45-minute drive south to First Old River Lake, an oxbow of the Red River, Charles spotted the first of seven Cave Swallows just a few minutes after we arrived; a life bird for several in the group. A few seconds later seven Roseate Spoonbills were seen feeding across the lake, along with White Ibis and several dark ibises too far way to identify.
With the exception of Purple Martins, all of the species of swallows found in Arkansas were seen there – Tree, Bank, Cliff, Cave, Barn, and Northern Rough-winged. A dead tree proved to be a great resting area for Anhingas, the spoonbills, White Ibis, and Great Egrets, giving the appearance of ornaments on a Christmas tree. However, with the arrival of two Bald Eagles all the birds left for a safer location. By 12:30 the group decided to disband and either head for home or lunch just before the rain hit. We ended the day with eight birders and 34 species.
Pictures by Michael Linz