July 6, 2019 Dr. Lester Sitzes III, Bois d’ Arc AGFC WMA Hope, AR
Fourteen birders braved the hot, steamy July temperatures to spend the day at the AGFC Bois d’Arc WMA in south Arkansas searching for Gallinule babies, elusive Night-Herons, Least Bitterns, and alligators. A quick stop at the McDonald’s in Hope netted the expected flock of Great-tailed Grackles. The juveniles are quite adept at dodging cars and people to gobble up their daily ration of junk food. Arriving at the WMA, the lake was teaming with activity. Purple and Common Gallinules and their chicks dodged, swam, and scampered over the Water Lotus pads. Great, Snowy, and Cattle Egrets, plus Little Blue and Green Herons were flying and squawking everywhere. We spotted several White Ibis, but saw only a couple of Anhingas. Tree and Northern Roughed-winged Swallows were the most prevalent swallows. One adult Bald Eagle did a slow fly-over then perched for a while on one of the snags in the lake. At the two Cattle Egret rookeries, we found adult and juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons.
The best woods birds were two Swainson’s Warblers, which had been located earlier in the week by two birders. The warblers were very cooperative. One came quite close to the road, singing, perching, and flitting about at eye level. Life bird for several! At the back side of the lake the Prothonotary Warbler family of five put on quite a show. They dashed around the small slough among the reeds and hanging branches, quite excited to check out our group. Two male Painted Buntings fought each other in the undergrowth at another spot while a female watched from above.
A total of three alligators of varying sizes were spotted floating motionless in inlets in different locations as we circled the lake trying to find a Least Bittern. All the usual locations were a bust, so our last resort was to drive to the far back side of the lake. Finally, a Least Bittern responded from the reeds, but took his time to come fully out for a brief look before plunging back into the reeds not to be seen again. Cheers and high fives by the small group of birders who had persevered in the heat well past 1:00 p.m. to be rewarded with a nice look at this handsome bird. Approximately 50 species was our trip total. A very successful excursion to the southern region of our state to visit its diverse habitats and flora and fauna.
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator
Little Rock/Pulaski County