ASCA May Field Trip Report

May 11, 2019

Gillam Park, Little Rock Port Authority, & Terry Lock and Dam

Hoping for a break in the rain this morning, Saturday, I went ahead with the field trip in case anyone wanted to sneak in some birding in between rain cells. Seven plucky birders met at the entrance to Gillam Park at 7:00 a.m. to find poor light and misting drizzle.  We had several warbler-sized birds flitting high in the trees at the first parking lot, which were almost impossible to identify in the dim light.  Thank goodness for Dan’s excellent ears as we were able to see/hear Kentucky, Chestnut-sided, and Tennessee Warblers, White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, Summer Tanagers, Blue Grosbeaks, and Indigo Buntings.  

With it starting to rain harder, we pulled up stakes and headed to the Little Rock Port Authority area and Fraizer Pike.  With no Western Kingbirds anywhere near Custom Metals, we crossed the railroad tracks over to the big open fields and found some good birds.  Western and Eastern Kingbirds were working the fields along with Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Cliff and Barn Swallows.  In the flooded areas we were excited to see two Black-necked Stilts and two Wilson’s Phalaropes, plus Green Herons, Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, and Killdeer.  On our way to David D. Terry Lock and Dam the big surprise was two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks sitting in a small flooded area on Thibault Rd.  Life birds for two birders!  No Bobolinks anywhere but lots of Dickcissels. 

The hot spot of the morning was the Dam Rd. leading in to the Terry Lock and Dam park.  As soon as we turned off Frazier Pike Rd. we found several Hooded Mergansers in the flooded pit and a Peregrine Falcon in a tree nearby, plus Baltimore Orioles, and Red-headed Woodpeckers.  Eastern Kingbirds were everywhere.  As soon as we got to the wooded area, we hit the warbler jackpot!  We had several of Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Bay-breasted, Black-and-white, Tennessee, Magnolia, Yellow, and Kentucky Warblers, plus a fairly certain Cerulean Warbler, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, American Redstarts, Northern Parula, Warbling, Philadelphia, White-eyed, and Red-eyed Vireos, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Great-crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers of all kinds, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  By 11:15 a.m. the rain really set in and we weren’t able to rustle up any Painted Buntings, but did have a calling Yellow-breasted Chat. At this point our little troop of plucky birders were quite damp and decided to call it a day and head home to their dry and warm roosts very pleased with netting approximately 70 species on a rainy, but certainly not dreary day!

Karen Holliday

ASCA Field Trip Coordinator

Pulaski Count

ASCA Field Trip Report April 27

Saturday, April 27, was the day for the monthly ASCA field trip.  But with Karen Holliday birding out of state, someone else had to lead it.  So I had volunteered.

The biggest surprise of the day was the number of birders who turned out:  38!  The Arboretum parking lot was jam-packed by seven o’clock.

The first species calling and catching our attention was Summer Tanager.  I think (and hope) everyone managed to see at least one of these; a bright red male was especially obliging by singing high in a treetop directly overhead.  Next spotted were two male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, also high in a tree.  I glimpsed a male Baltimore Oriole, also way up overhead, but am uncertain whether anyone else did.

Also heard singing from the parking lot was a single Black-and-white Warbler.  Our sparse list (only 20 species!) for Saturday included a Worm-eating Warbler that was eating worms, and a Northern Parula or two.  That was all the warblers we could muster.  However, we heard lots of invisible treetop vireos—most of them probably Red-eyed Vireos—during the morning and even managed to see a few White-eyed Vireos.  (As an excuse, I kept reminding folks that it wasn’t May yet.)

After completing the Arboretum Trail, we all adjourned and headed for the Kingfisher Trail.  That’s where some of the species already mentioned were seen.  But we were never again all birding together.  Instead we were birding in smaller groups.  Frankly, it was something like herding cats.

Dottie Boyles left early but made a quick side-trip to the Visitor Information Center in hopes of seeing a male Painted Bunting that had visited a feeder there the day before.  Lo and behold, she saw him.  But, as far as I know, no one else did that day.  It was a timely reminder that there are always more birds around than we birders can find and identify.