Some free time allowed me to bird around Russellville for 2 days. On the first day I went to Delaware Recreational Area on Lake Dardanelle and the second day I walked a trail at the Bona Dea trails and sanctuary.
Wednesday afternoon I decided to go to Delaware RA because of the potential this site has for rare gulls. It is a reliable place to see Herring Gulls (uncommon) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (rare) but has seen some even rarer gulls (rare in Arkansas): Thayer’s Gull, Glaucous Gull, California Gull, Sabine’s Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, and others. I am almost positive that I had seen an adult LBBG earlier in the season here but I didn’t count it because it wasn’t a very good look. So I decided to go back and try to photograph it. Unfortunately, there were very few gulls on the lake: handful of Ring-billed Gulls and a couple first-winter Herring Gulls. A few Ring-necked Ducks and Buffleheads could be seen among the Coots and Cormorants. However, there was a large group of small woodland birds in the upland hardwood/pine forest adjacent to the lake. Pine Warblers foraged in Short-leaf Pines while Yellow-rumped Warblers and Golden-crowned Kinglets foraged in cedars. A few titmice and chickadees joined a Downy Woodpecker in a post oak and Hermit Thrushes could be heard deeper in the forest. While watching the woods, one of the park caretakers drove up and asked if I wanted to see an Eastern Screech-Owl. My answer was, of course, yes. I followed his truck a few feet and it took us a few minutes to find the owl peering out of a Post Oak cavity hidden in plain sight. The owl was red morph; if it was a gray morph we might not have been able to see it. The nearby birds kept their distance and no mob was formed; although a nearby Hermit Thrush seemed a bit agitated.
The next day I went to Bona Dea, at the Washburn part. I walked the comparatively short loop and circled around a series of semi-frozen ponds. Other habitats included upland hardwood/pine forests and a bottomland hardwood area. Birches, willows, and cypresses lined the banks while buttonbush “forests” grew in the water and formed islands a few feet from shore. In these buttonbush islands were a variety of sparrow and wrens. White-throated Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows were common with an occasional Song Sparrow and Eastern Towhee. Winter Wrens and Carolina Wrens foraged among these bushes. A Common Grackle and Red-winged Blackbird foraged with a Phoebe along the banks. Flocks of blackbirds could be heard in the distance. The common woodland troupe could be observed throughout. On the few sections of pond that were not frozen, ducks were present. A small contingency of ducks consisting primarily of Gadwalls but with a few Mallards, Green-winged Teal, and one male Northern Shoveler.