Field Trip Report: May 12, 2018, Gillam Park and Frazier Pike Road

May 12th was the new World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) combined with International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), the first-ever Audubon Arkansas’s BirdLR Birdathon, and ASCA’s May field trip.  Talk about a packed day!  Starting at 7:00 a.m. twenty-four participants of Team ASCA dashed around Pulaski County trying to find as many bird species as possible.  The Bird Dudes and the Little Rockhoppers Birdathon teams briefly joined the group off and on during the day, helping spot species we were missing, then splitting off again to do their own dashing around.  Our first stop was Gillam Park in southeast Pulaski County near the airport.  Gillam is usually a spring migrant hotspot, but birds were few and far between.  We couldn’t even rustle up a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher!  We did have five turtles and three ticks.  A Wood Duck pair, sleeping on a log in the slough, were flanked by four of the turtles.  A very cooperative Chestnut-sided Warbler and a female Redstart flitted around in a low bush giving everyone super close looks.  The most abundant and noisiest birds were singing Kentucky Warblers and Wood Thrushes, with a few Indigo Buntings and Summer Tanagers thrown in.

Next stop was the Custom Metals building on Fourche Dam Pike.  This has been a favored nesting site for Western Kingbirds during the last several years.  Their numbers have been increasing in the Industrial Park area.  We had a least eight perched on the fences or fly-catching around the building, along with several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.

Third stop was the park at the David D. Terry West dam site.  Finally some birds!  We found Yellow-billed Cuckoos, oodles of Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, and Black-and-white Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, a Philadelphia Vireo, a kettle of Mississippi Kites, a large flock of Cedar Waxwings, and one lone Double-crested Cormorant.  The Bird Dudes Team reappeared and we traded looks at our warblers for looks at the three Painted Buntings they had just found nearby.  Sharing the Bird Love!

Final stop was Cook’s Landing to find the Forster’s Terns the Bird Dudes had spotted on their earlier foray to the north side of the river.  At least five were sitting on snags or soaring and diving.  Numerous American White Pelicans were resting on the sandbar and drifting in the current below the spillway.  Last species for the ASCA team’s count was the busy group of Cliff Swallows nesting under the Big Dam Bridge.  Team ASCA finished the delightfully fun day with 74 species.  A summary of Audubon Arkansas’s BirdLR Birdathon can be found at https://ar.audubon.org/news/birdlr-birdathon-results.

Submitted by

Karen Holliday

ASCA Field Trip Coordinator

Field Trip Report: Craighead Forest Park & AGFC Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center April 21, 2018


On Saturday, April 21 the weather was mostly sunny, mid-60’s temperatures, and very little wind after the first half hour of the trip.  23 birders congregated at the softball field at Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro at 8:15 a.m.  Hats off to all the “Bird Nuts” who showed up because they left Little Rock at 6:00 a.m. to make the two-hour drive.  First birds were a soaring Broad-winged Hawk, plus 62 DC Cormorants flying overhead in a V formation. Birds seen on the loop around the edge of the softball field were Pine Warblers, Swainson’s Thrush, Carolina Wrens, and Chipping Sparrows.

Working our way towards the lake, a group of birds kept flushing in front of us. It was a nice mix of Blue Grosbeaks, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Indigo Buntings, and Cardinals.  On the path through the wooded areas, we were very excited to see a Cerulean Warbler, life or state bird for many, two Blackburnian Warblers, and a Scarlet Tanager!  We also had more Swainson’s Thrushes, a Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireos, Nashville Warblers, Summer Tanagers, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

We then headed to the Game & Fish Commission’s Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center. It was almost noon so the birds had slowed down but we did get our FOS Blue-winged Warbler and Eastern Kingbird, plus several butterflies, including Monarch’s, working the butterfly gardens.

On our way back to Little Rock, the group stopped at the Bald Knob NWR Refuge.  Great decision because our first bird was a White-faced Ibis in gorgeous high breeding plumage feeding only 25 feet from the road!  We then stopped at the grain bins to scan the huge blackbird flock hoping for Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Sarah Morris pulled up and said thank goodness we were birders because she was pretty positive she had just seen two.  We jumped out of our cars and sure enough there were two stunning male YHBB’s!  Life and state bird for most. On the back side of the Refuge we had an adult Bald Eagle, plus a momma Hooded Merganser and her six adorable tiny babies swimming in one of the flooded ditches.  Last stop on the way out was at the marshy creek on Coal Chute Rd. near the entrance to the Refuge.  A male Wood Duck and two Green Herons were perched on the fallen logs in the creek.  In the reeds was a singing Marsh Wren.  Then, out of the reeds walked an American Bittern.  He stood still long enough for everyone to get great looks through the scope.  Life and or state bird for many.  Spectacular end to a long day!  Species total for Craighead Forest and the Nature Center was 54.  Bald Knob was 27.

Karen Holliday

ASCA Field Trip Coordinator