July 11, 2015
Dr. Lester Sitzes, III Bois D’Arc Lake WMA
Saturday, we had twenty-five enthusiastic birders who met at the Bois D’Arc Lake WMA area just outside of Hope, AR in Hempstead County. The group included a birder from Zimbabwe who picked up at least 6 life birds. We found our first good bird of the day at the McDonald’s in Hope. Great-tailed Grackles have moved north and are now seen on a regular basis at this location. We saw both male and female grackles.
At the WMA, we found a plethora of species common to south Arkansas. Throughout the morning, we saw and heard Purple and Common Gallinules. They were everywhere, picking their way across the Water Lotus plants. At several locations we watched juvenile birds tottering along on long legs and giant feet, hopping from lily pad to lily pad, following their parents. One momma bird was standing above her babies, who were resting underneath, sheltering in the shade of her body. A shout went up when the first alligator was seen. Soon after, a second gator was spotted.
Dozens and dozens of Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and Green Herons all nest around the lake. We watched both adults and juveniles feeding and being fed. A Caspian Tern and three Forster’s Terns swooped and dove along the far side of the lake, along with dozens of Tree, Cliff, and Barn Swallows. A Least Bittern responded to playback but was reluctant to show itself. Only two Anhingas were seen on this visit.
In the back water below the lake, we found several White Ibises and two cooperative Painted Buntings. We then traveled to the far side of the lake to the egret rookery. At least 200 hundred Cattle Egrets fussed and fought for space. Noisy and stinky, the trees full of birds and nests, it was a great opportunity to observe rookery behavior. Mixed in were three nesting Black-crowned Night-Herons, which were life birds for several in the group. Another large alligator was spotted and photographed.
With enough shade throughout the morning and great birds, we stayed at the lake until around 1:00pm. On a recommendation for THE hamburger place in Hope, many of the group headed to Tailgaters for a fun and delicious end to another terrific ASCA birding trip.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator