spite of dire predictions of rain for the day, forty-two birders gathered at
the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge in White County Saturday morning.
Thankfully the rain held off until noon and the heavy cloud cover kept the
temperature at a very comfortable mid-80’s range. The group’s first stop was
west of the grain bins and just south off Huntsman’s Road and produced two of
the best birds of the trip- great looks at a cooperative Lesser Black-backed
Gull and a Common Tern. In the nearby mud flat and short grass were over 400
Canada Geese, plus Blue-winged Teal, Mallards, Great Egrets, Little Blue
Herons, Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, and Killdeer.
Next stop was the pond
just before the low water bridge where seven American Avocets were busy working
the muddy water next to the road. The rest of the pond was full of American
White Pelicans, Black-necked Stilts, more adult and immature Little Blue
Herons, plus two Gadwall’s, Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers, and a
small group of swooping Bank Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows.
A Caspian Tern circled, then sat on the mud for great looks through
The back side of the
pond held more shorebirds with Semipalmated Plovers, Stilt, Western,
Semipalmated, and Least Sandpipers, plus Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs,
Northern Shovelers, and a few Cliff Swallows. Mixed in with the numerous Great
Egrets were Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons, plus a Spotted Sandpiper.
Last birds of the trip
were a Green Heron, a Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and a very cooperative
Sedge Wren. At that point, the looming rain clouds opened up and the rain moved
in. Since it was lunch time, the group said their goodbyes and headed
home with to close to 45 species on their day’s trip list.
ASCA Field Trip
July 6, 2019 Dr. Lester Sitzes III, Bois d’ Arc AGFC WMA Hope, AR
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.
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.
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
Field Trip Coordinator