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

Field Trip – January 26 – Delaware Park and Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)

Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Mayflower commuter lot off I-40 West at Exit 135.  We’ll carpool to Delaware Park, located on the southwest side of Lake Dardanelle.  We should arrive at the Delaware Park boat ramp around 8:45 a.m. for anyone who wants to meet us there.  We’ll scan the lake for gulls, pelicans, loons, mergansers, ducks, grebes, and eagles.  A rare gull or duck is a possibility.  The lake can be very cold and windy.  Dress in layers, including gloves and hats. 

Next, we’ll caravan to the Holla Bend NWR headquarters’ parking lot.  There is a $4.00 entrance fee per vehicle.  A duck stamp or a National Parks pass will get a vehicle in for free.  Our target birds will be raptors, including nesting Bald Eagles, also swans, ducks, geese, and sparrows.  At Holla Bend, there will be some walking in tall grass, so boots are recommended.  Bring snacks, lunch, and plenty of water.  We’ll return to Little Rock late afternoon.

Directions from the town of Dardanelle to Delaware Park:  At the junction of Hwy. 7 and Hwy. 22, go west on Hwy 22 approximately 10 miles.  Turn right onto Hwy. 393, which is the first road on your right after you cross the long causeway at the west end of the lake.  Hwy. 393 dead ends at Delaware Park.  GPS coordinates:  35.295749, -93.271458.  For more information about the Holla Bend NWR, go to http://www.fws.gov/hollabend/.  The headquarters is located at 10448 Holla Bend Road, Dardanelle, AR 72834.  GPS coordinates: 35.163222, -93.093477.