A very large group of birders (too many to count) spent Saturday morning scattered around the edges of the drained ponds and rice fields at the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge, also an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA). The middle pond on Huntsman Road is all mud and full of shorebirds, egrets, herons, and some ducks. No Spoonbills or Wood Storks were seen. Best birds were juvenile White Ibises, an American Golden-Plover, several Wilson’s Snipe, Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers, Black-necked Stilts, a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and Blue-winged Teal. We weren’t able to identify the two dark Ibis that circled the pond then disappeared into the rice field. We tried really hard to convince ourselves we had a Reeve (female Ruff). Final consensus was a Lesser Yellowlegs sporting a colorful pair of orange legs. The Vultures have done an efficient job of eating most of the dead fish and the area was much less odiferous compared to last weekend. 100+ Great Egrets were mobing the southeast corner of the pond, which still held some water and lots of tiny fish, entailing lots of pushing and shoving by the egrets to snatch a wiggling morsel.
At the end of the morning, we checked the first pond, which is bordered by Coal Chute Rd. and Huntsman Rd. It is a combination of bare mud, some grassy mud, and water. It contained one sleeping White Pelican, 4 Willets, and a mix of egrets and herons and some Malllards. By noon the temperature had topped 90 degrees with humidity and full sun, so most of the group called it a day.
The Neotropic Cormorant seen by a birder early that morning was a no-show later in the day. On the way back to Little Rock, we made a quick stop at the Friendly Acres lake at the Judsonia city park. The Black-bellied Whistling Duck numbers have increased to 22, plus two Muscovy Ducks and several Canada Geese. Approximate species count for the day was 40+ with many of the distant shorebirds too far to identify. It was a fun day with the added bonus of connecting with new birders from around the state, plus birders we hadn’t seen in a while.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator