March 29, 2014
Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge
Saturday, March 29 forty-three birders spent the morning at the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge and found a total of 48 species of birds. The day started out chilly, cloudy, and windy then warmed-up quickly once the sun came out. Our targets were lingering water birds and early arriving shorebirds.
A mix of several hundred Northern Shovelers, American Coots, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, plus a smattering of Mallards and Gadwalls comprised the lingering waterfowl group. Of the many shorebirds we spotted, American Golden-Plovers were quite numerous. We also had lots of Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, a small group of Long-billed Dowitchers, a few Least Sandpipers, and of course the ubiquitous Killdeer.
Raptors included one adult and one juvenile Bald Eagle, an Osprey, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks, and several Northern Harriers. The best bird of the day was a very cooperative Peregrine Falcon. It was first spotted perched in a small bush, then it flew to the ground, where it stayed long enough for people to get good looks at it in their scopes. Next, it took off and dive-bombed and harassed the Northern Harriers for several minutes, then made numerous passes over the fields, scattering shorebirds and ducks with every swoop. A life bird for many in the group.
The area around the grain bins was awash in Brown-headed Cowbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Common Grackles, and a couple of Eastern Meadowlarks and House Sparrows. At the Night-Heron swamp, FOS Purple Martins and Tree Swallows made their appearance, plus a Belted Kingfisher, but no Night-Herons. We spent the last of the morning sorting through the sparrows and tallied Field, Vesper, Savannah, Song, White-throated, and Swamp. Two American Pipits and a few American Goldfinches were seen and heard. A good time was had by all!