February 16, 2019 Two Rivers Park Field Trip

It was frigid Saturday morning for ASCA’s Feb.16 field trip, which was held the weekend of the 2019 Great Backyard Bird Count.  We started at the bridge at the east end of Two Rivers Park.  For the first part of the morning, the land birds wanted nothing to do with us.  Pishing, playback; no birds moved or responded in the cold.  Try pishing with frozen lips in 28 degree weather-it is tough!  But our fifteen birders persevered, slowly walking the trail.  A juvenile Bald Eagle glided by overhead; an adult sat quietly in a tree watching us.  The water birds were scattered around the river inlet, mostly in large groups of Gadwalls, Scaup, and Cormorants. The 100+ group of Ring-billed Gulls stayed close together on a sandbar, with another large group spiraling overhead.  Nine American White Pelicans huddled together sleeping soundly.  A much larger group of Pelicans glided in then circled overhead.  We flushed two female Goldeneys who flew over to hang out with the Canada Geese.  Circling back to the bridge, we played the Carolina Chickadee alarm call which finally stirred up the birds.  Chickadees, Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, and two Red-breasted Nuthatches responded enthusiastically. Walking to the end of the park’s peninsula, we located four Fox Sparrows, several Field Sparrows, Cardinals, Savannah Sparrows, and lots of Juncos foraging under the trees, including a couple of Yellow-rumpled Warblers.

The group then drove to the west end of Two Rivers Park.  The morning was finally warming up and birds began to stir.  At the “swamp”, we called up three very vocal Winter Wrens, all chiding us at the same time.  The group then headed to the big, open field where the group spread out to walk in a long line, hoping to flush sparrows.  It took a third pass through the field to finally flush our target bird, the LeConte’s Sparrow.  We flushed at least four.  Two cooperated beautifully by teeing up in one of the small bushes, then sitting side by side for several minutes.  Cameras were being fired at lightning speed getting lots of great shots of the posing birds.  Very pleased with our morning and the 47 bird species we saw, we headed back to our vehicles, then home thaw out.  Critters seen were deer, cottontails, and an opossum.

Karen Holliday

ASCA Field Trip Coordinator

January 26, 2019 Lake Dardanelle, Holla Bend NWR, & Atkins Bottoms Field Trip Report

Saturday, January 26th thirty-one bird enthusiasts meet at Delaware Park on Lake Dardanelle.  The weather was mild for January, which made for a pleasant day of birding.  We spent a couple of hours scanning the lake, which was teeming with a wide variety of species.  Pintails, Scaup, Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Horned Grebes, Coots, Double-crested  Cormorants and Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed Gulls dotted the lake.  Highlights were the Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Common Loons, lots of White Pelicans, and one Herring Gull.  Land and air birds included an adult Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Brown Creeper, Pine Warblers, and Eastern Bluebirds.

The group then caravanned to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge.  Thanks go to the volunteers with the Friends of Holla Bend who kept the bathrooms opened and maintained throughout the government shut-down.  Our group was happy to take advantage of their hard work.  Both Bald Eagle nests had adults sitting on or near the nests.  Large numbers of ducks took advantage of areas with water, with Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons patrolling the edges.  Gadwalls were the most common, along with Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, Pintails, and Redheads.  The river channel was packed with over 300 Ring-billed Gulls, 100 Double-crested Cormorants, and 40 American White Pelicans.  A large flock of Rusty Blackbirds worked the muddy area of one field.  Northern Harriers glided low over the fields flushing sparrows and blackbirds.  Red-bellied, Hairy, and Downy Woodpeckers were hammering away in the trees, along with Northern Flickers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.  Carolina and Winter Wrens were seen and heard.

The group then decided to head to Atkins Bottoms in Pope County to try for the Prairie Falcon and swans that were being seen in the area.  No Prairie Falcon, but we saw several Kestrels and a Merlin perched on the wires.  The ponds held 61 Trumpeter Swans, 4 Tundra Swans, Pintails, Mallards, and Northern Shovelers.  Red-tailed Hawks were perched everywhere.  Darkness started falling, so it was time to head home.  We finished the day with a total of 68 species.

Submitted by

Karen Holliday

ASCA Field Trip Coordinator