David D. Terry Lock and Dam 4/9/13

Today we went out to David D. Terry Lock and Dam, located off of Dixon Rd. on Frazier Pike.  This is always a good place to go in the winter and in spring.  In summer and fall, like most places, it is somewhat slow for birding.  We started at around 9 in the morning and spent a couple of hours.

We start out driving around agricultural fields.  This lasts for several miles and features a few bordering creeks with deciduous woods.  Standing water is common in these fields and in the spring they host several shorebirds and, if they’re deep enough, waterfowl.  Bobwhite are heard occasionally in these fields.  Today none of these were observed, save the waterfowl and a Killdeer.  We were hoping for some First of the Season (FOY) Spotted and Least Sandpipers or even a few Upland Sandpipers (we dream big).  We drove through the fields and found several birds.  A Barn Swallow posed very close to us and we were able to get some good pictures.  We found it near a bridge where it was probably nesting.  We saw a male Northern Harrier flying low over the fields, scaring up a few Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows.  Bluebirds and Kestrels looked for potential prey from powerlines.  As our vehicle passed they burst into flight hurrying to a not too distant vantage point further on down the line.  Carolina Wrens, White-eyed Vireos, and American Goldfinches sang loudly from the surrounding woods.  Every now and then we would catch the song of a Horned Lark and see one dart up from the ground and be joined by a couple others as they flew farther away from us.  Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds called and flocked in the fields, especially where there were livestock.  As we neared the end of the fields, we stopped at a bramble that grew against a utility pole around.  I knew from past observations that a Loggerhead Shrike pair nested here.  We looked around the bramble and saw one.

Male Barn Swallow

Male Barn Swallow

We then entered a neighborhood that is in the middle of the fields.  In this neighborhood we saw the typical yard birds:  Starlings, Grackles, Cardinals, House Sparrows, Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves, and Robins.

We then moved to the actual park which is basically thick deciduous woods with heavy understory alongside the Arkansas River.  There are several bays and inlets of water throughout the park that we accessed even though they weren’t very accessible.  Before we entered the park we came across a field with livestock and a top soil provider.  In the giant hole where they “harvest” the soil we saw a few Killdeer and some Northern Rough-winged Swallows.  In the field with the cows and alpacas we saw several of the aforementioned blackbirds/starlings.  There was some water for the livestock that was filled with Blue-winged Teal.  Once in the park we were amazed at how alive the trees were with birds.  There was a cacophony of songs.  Most of the songs were Red-wings, Goldfinches, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Cardinals, Gnatcatchers and White-eyed Vireos.  We stopped at an inlet of the river to look for ducks.  Among some brush by the inlet we saw a Lincoln’s Sparrow foraging.  Lincoln’s Sparrows are incredibly common in April compared to the other winter/spring months.  On the water we saw more Teal and lots of Pied-billed Grebes and Cormorants.  A Great Blue Heron was hidden among some vegetation by the water.  A couple of Gadwall were seen on the water as well.  As we looked up from the water we saw an abundance of activity in the trees.  Most of the activity was Titmice, Chickadees, Yellow-rumps, Red-wings, Goldfinches, or Gnatcatchers but a few other birds were somewhat different.  I saw a small bird dart over to one side of the tree and I trained my binoculars accordingly.  I saw a male Cardinal but a foot below it was the tail and part of the crissum of another bird.  This bird was dull brown and when it turned around I could see that the rest of it was the same dull brown.  I thought maybe a female Indigo Bunting but dismissed the thought.  While watching a Downy Woodpecker in the same tree another bird flew into the direction of the Cardinal which remained in the same spot throughout.  I trained the binoculars on this new bird and was delighted when I saw a small, rich blue bird.  My original diagnosis was correct:  FOS Indigo Buntings.  As we left that area two male buntings flew into the road in front of us and we were able to get a few pictures.  As we drove on we heard Northern Parulas and what I thought was a Blue-winged Warbler.  We only heard a second of a song and a positive ID couldn’t be made.

Male Indigo Bunting

Male Indigo Bunting

When we reached the river we saw more Cormorants along with some Ring-billed Gulls and American White Pelicans.  We were driving along the river to the dam when I spotted a large soaring bird.  I caught glimpses of it through the trees and couldn’t get a good look.  I thought it was a Bald Eagle but couldn’t be sure.  Finally, after several minutes of anxious waiting, we saw it flying over the river.  I got good looks at it and saw that it was probably only a 2nd year bird for it was mostly brown but had white streaks on its breast and belly. At the dam we saw several gulls.  Most of them were Ring-billed but some were Bonaparte’s.  On the concrete structure of the dam we saw several FOS Cliff Swallows flying around their nests.

On the way back we saw a Red-tailed in a tree and saw a Broad-winged Hawk flying into a wood lot adjacent to a field.  We had a good day and the weather was very pleasant.  We were surprised at some of the birds we saw but also some of the ones we didn’t; not a single shorebird was seen, save the Killdeer.

Here’s what we saw:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Gadwall
  3. Blue-winged Teal
  4. Pied-billed Grebe
  5. American White Pelican
  6. Double-crested Cormorant
  7. Great Blue Heron
  8. Turkey Vulture
  9. Northern Harrier
  10. Bald Eagle
  11. Red-tailed Hawk
  12. Red-shouldered Hawk
  13. Broad-winged Hawk
  14. American Coot
  15. Killdeer
  16. Ring-billed Gull
  17. Bonaparte’s Gull
  18. Rock Pigeon
  19. Mourning Dove
  20. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  21. Downy Woodpecker
  22. American Kestrel
  23. Eastern Phoebe
  24. Loggerhead Shrike
  25. White-eyed Vireo
  26. Blue Jay
  27. American Crow
  28. Fish Crow
  29. Purple Martin
  30. Barn Swallow
  31. Cliff Swallow
  32. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  33. Horned Lark
  34. Tufted Titmouse
  35. Carolina Chickadee
  36. Carolina Wren
  37. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  38. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  39. Northern Mockingbird
  40. Brown Thrasher
  41. European Starling
  42. Eastern Bluebird
  43. American Robin
  44. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  45. Yellow-throated Warbler
  46. Northern Parula
  47. Field Sparrow
  48. Savannah Sparrow
  49. Lincoln’s Sparrow
  50. White-throated Sparrow
  51. Northern Cardinal
  52. Indigo Bunting
  53. Common Grackle
  54. Red-winged Blackbird
  55. Brown-headed Cowbird
  56. Eastern Meadowlark
  57. American Goldfinch
  58. House Sparrow
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