Members of the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas left Little Rock at 7:15 a.m. and headed to the AGFC’s Delta Rivers Nature Center at Pine Bluff. At the Nature Center, we met up with several of our Pine Bluff birding friends for a total of 20 people. We were slow to make it into the Nature Center because the parking lot was full of Baltimore Orioles, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Great-crested Flycatchers.
After admiring the 10 ft. alligator Game and Fish personnel had captured Friday in McGhee, and the three enormous Alligator Snapping Turtles, we paid a quick visit to the resident male and female Bald Eagles, who after being injured, now have a safe home at the Nature Center. We also saw the female Bald Eagle’s new roommate, a Barred Owl, who sleepily peeked out at us from his log home cavity. We walked the primitive trail, which skirts the bayou and back waters of the Arkansas River, and saw a number of summer residents. At one spot, two male Wood Ducks were perched on a snag only yards across the slough. Our photographers fell all over themselves trying to get the best shots. At the final boardwalk, a very cooperative Northern Parula circled just above our heads, giving our beginning birders great looks. We were briefly distracted watching two deer wading across the backwater.
On to Lake Saracen, where we saw a lone Double-crested Cormorant on the lake. We also had Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, plus a cooperative first year male Orchard Oriole claiming a stretch of the canal as his territory, a shy, singing Common Yellowthroat, and a Yellow-breasted Chat. Delos showed us two Baltimore Orioles’ pendulum nests, plus an Eastern Kingbird nest with parents in residence.
Final stop was Wilbur West Road. As we approached the wetlands, we spotted a soaring female Anhinga. Everyone jumped out of their cars to watch as it circled with several Mississippi Kites. Next to the road, we watched a young Green Heron feeding on crustaceans just a few feet from us. The photographers again went into photo overload snapping tons of action shots of the feeding heron. Further down the road we found a great group of birds. There were Little Blue Herons in all phases of breeding plumage, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, Least Terns, and Forster’s Terns. We also had Dickcissels, Indigo Buntings, and more singing Common Yellowthroats.
We had a total of 57 species. With good birds, low humidity, a surprising lack of mosquitoes, plus great birding friends, we had a wonderful day.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator
Pictures by Delos McCauley