Lake Saracen 12/22/12

One of the best birding spots in Pine Bluff is Lake Saracen.  You never know what you are going to get there.  In my opinion, this spot has the highest potential for vagrants and rarities in the Pine Bluff metropolitan area.  Last Saturday, a couple of us went out there and we got quite a haul.

Pelican Trio

Pelican Trio

From the parking lot, looking over the lake, we could immediately see Cormorants, White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets (the usual).  In the water, near the trail head, there is an island that has been taken over with weeds.  When there aren’t weeds, this is a good place to see Killdeer, Snipe, Least Sandpipers, and even some Yellowlegs.  On this day it was fairly flooded and weedy but there were a couple Coots and Pied-billed Grebes.  In the weeds were a few songbirds especially the Song Sparrow.  At this point, on the other side of the trail there is a small track of lowland hardwood (about an acre and a half).  This was slightly flooded and was crowded with Robins, Yellow-rumps, Cardinals, White-throated, and Fox Sparrows.  A little farther on down there is just an open field and not much was seen here.  On the water Buffleheads could be seen at this point.

I chose Lake Saracen because of a recent sighting of an American Bittern.  When we started out on the trail we met another birder who informed us of several Marsh Wrens further down the trail.  We moved on from the open field where we came to a marshy area.  At this point on the lake we could see large groups of Pelicans, Cormorants, Ring-billed, and Bonaparte’s Gulls congregating.  In the marshy area we got more Yellow-rumps and a few Winter Wrens.  Flickers, Red-bellieds, Hairy Woodpeckers, and Chickadees were seen at the next spot which was more bottomland woods with thick understory.

As we approached a more reedy section of the lake I kept a lookout and an open ear for the Marsh Wren and American Bittern.  I have only seen the Marsh Wren once and have never seen/heard an American Bittern.  We came upon some brush by the lake and heard a repeated “check” call.  It sounded similar to the Marsh Wren’s call and we stopped and looked for it.  It didn’t take us long to find the wren making the call but to our surprise we found a House Wren instead of a Marsh Wren.  We stopped and watched it for a while then moved on.  The banks of the lake grew in reed intensity and we stopped to play a few songs to see if we could get the Marsh Wren.  Several birds responded but none of them were Marsh Wrens.  We had an abundance of Red-wings, several Savannah Sparrows, a Phoebe, and a Swamp Sparrow.  On the walk back we finally heard the crows we had been seeing and we were able to get both American and Fish.

House Wren

House Wren

Here’s what we got:

  1. Gadwall
  2. Bufflehead
  3. Pied-billed Grebe
  4. Double-crested Cormorant
  5. American White Pelican
  6. Great Blue Heron
  7. Great Egret
  8. Turkey Vulture
  9. Red-tailed Hawk
  10. American Coot
  11. Killdeer
  12. Bonaparte’s Gull
  13. Ring-billed Gull
  14. Rock Pigeon
  15. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  16. Hairy Woodpecker
  17. Northern Flicker
  18. Eastern Phoebe
  19. Blue Jay
  20. American Crow
  21. Fish Crow
  22. Carolina Chickadee
  23. House Wren
  24. Winter Wren
  25. Carolina Wren
  26. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  27. Eastern Bluebird
  28. American Robin
  29. Northern Mockingbird
  30. European Starling
  31. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  32. Savannah Sparrow
  33. Swamp Sparrow
  34. Song Sparrow
  35. Fox Sparrow
  36. White-throated Sparrow
  37. Northern Cardinal
  38. Red-winged Blackbird
  39. Common Grackle
  40. American Goldfinch
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