ASCA Field Trip Report

March 30, 2019

Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge

Our group of 22 birders dodged rain showers Saturday morning during the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas’s March field trip to Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge.  Lots of ducks still remain.  We had very large numbers of Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, somewhat less of Shovelers and Gadwalls, a couple of Pintails, and one field with about 30 Coots. Shorebird numbers are picking up.  The birds were a little difficult to see in some places because many were feeding in the dead vegetation and rice stubble in the less flooded fields. We found good numbers of American Golden-Plovers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, Yellowlegs, mostly Lesser, were seen in most of the muddy fields.  We saw a total of four adult Bald Eagles and a couple of juveniles, several who were strafing the two flooded fields on the far eastern side of the refuge, pushing the hundreds of ducks back and forth between the two ponds.  One Merlin and several Northern Harriers were flushing shorebirds in other parts of the refuge. Approximately 60 American White Pelicans were hanging out in three different areas. We had a few Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets, but no Black-necked Stilts.  At the refuge headquarters a Mockingbird had in his repertoire a Bell’s Vireo that was so spot-on we thought we were hearing a real one singing.  No real Vireo popped up to our playback, but the Mockingbird did reply, much to our amusement/chagrin. In the same area was a nice flock of colorful Rusty Blackbirds.  One Chimney Swift circled overhead.  Barn and Cliff Swallows were seen at the Bald Knob McDonald’s.

Around noon the rain set in heavy enough that the group voted to head home, with one group stopping at the Bulldog Restaurant in Bald Knob for a hot lunch and to dry off.  A very wet Loggerhead Shrike, hundreds of female Red-winged Blackbirds, and several flocks of eye-popping American Goldfinches in brilliant breeding plumage were our last bird as we left the refuge.  We saw approximately 50 species for the morning.

Karen Holliday

ASCA Field Trip Coordinator

Little Rock