Saturday, August 27, was the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas’s (ASCA) August field trip to the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. We had approximately 30 people. It was a fun group of excited birders, happy to be out birding with familiar faces and new birders, with a few photographers from the Conway photography group added to the mix. Several Wood Ducks, with recently fledged young, greeted us as we drove into the refuge.
The Refuge management had lowered the water levels in the ponds along Huntsman and Coal Chute Roads for maximum mud. They are always so willing to provide the best habitat for the field trip each year. Much appreciated! Keeping the sun to our backs, the group worked its way around the main ponds, first along the backside, then along Huntsman Rd. Good birds seen were Wilson’s Phalarope, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilts, Buff-breasted and Baird’s Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, one lonely White Pelican, Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitchers, Snipe, lots of Blue-winged Teal, 250 Killdeer, and of course both Yellowlegs and lots of various herons and egrets. A helicopter flushed the birds out of all ponds along Huntsman Road at one point, which helped to move the birds around. The birds obviously considered the helicopter a giant raptor threat!
By 11:30 a.m. everyone was beginning to melt in the sun and heat, so people headed off to air-conditioning and lunch at the Bulldog in Bald Knob. A few hardy souls hung out with me to the end, heading to the “Night-Heron Rookery/swamp” to see if the Roseate Spoonbills were still there from earlier in the week. No luck. We did see three River Otters cross the road just before the Red Bishop’s former location (just beyond the low water bridge). Otters are such an unexpected treat! Final new bird of the day for the remaining group was a Tricolored Heron, thanks to Terry Butler’s eagle eyes and calling me. Life bird for a couple of people!
Thank you Dr. Dan “The Birdman” Scheiman for keeping the eBird checklist. It was not an easy job, juggling lots of species, high counts, and birders asking for help identifying those challenging shorebirds! We tallied 47 species. I appreciate all who pitched in with their scopes and helped people get on the birds. Fun day was had by all!
ASCA Field Trip Coordinator
(birding in White County)