Lorance, Saracen, and Snowy Owl 12/16-12/18/13

The last three days have been filled with bird outings.  Monday, I birded Lorance Creek Natural Area.  Tuesday was Lake Saracen in Pine Bluff and Today I chased the Snowy Owl reported in Little Rock.

Lorance

Lorance had several winter birds.  In an attempt to ready myself for the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts, I focused on recording individual numbers.  I was surprised by the amount of Titmice (7+) and Chickadees (5+) I counted (a lot for such a short trail).  The woodpeckers were also out in full force:  Hairy, Downy, Red-bellied, and Flicker.  While on the boardwalk I watched a mixed flock of birds forage through the smooth alders and sweetspires.  The mixed flock contained mainly Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  White-breasted Nuthatches and Brown Creepers foraged up and down water tupelos, bald cypresses, and overcup oaks.  Among the kinglets was at least one Orange-crowned Warbler.  I played its song and it flew right up to the railing.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

 

Saracen

I was in Pine Bluff Tuesday so I decided to visit one of my favorite winter birding sites.  Right when I pulled into the parking lot I was greeted by a flock of foraging American White Pelicans close to the banks.  Among them was a few American Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, Great Blue Heron, and a Great Egret.  Great Egrets have been wintering in comparatively large numbers the last couple of years in Pine Bluff.  Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed Gulls were abundant throughout the lake.  Gadwall were the most common duck with a small raft floating near the banks; a few Ruddy Ducks swam nearby.  Three Hooded Mergansers and a Northern Shoveler flew overhead.  The terrestrial features around the Saracen trail are favorable to wrens and at least 5 different species have been seen here.  I usually get Carolina and Winter but will sometimes get House and Marsh.  I was hoping to see a Sedge Wren for the habitat is favorable for it as well.  I played various wren songs up and down the trail but to no avail. The only ones I got were Carolina and Winter.  

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

Snowy Owl

I checked my email account late Tuesday afternoon and saw that there was a Snowy Owl reported in Little Rock.  I had noticed that this was an irruptive year for the Snowy Owls but had my doubts at a cooperative Arkansan record.  Even when I got the email I still had my doubts about its accessibility.  This morning I got up and chased the record.  I arrived at the Valero gas station off of Lindsey Rd in Little Rock.  As I pulled into the parking lot I could see a large white bird flying across a field and several frantic birders, carrying tripods, hurrying after it.  I got my gear and followed the crowds.  The owl settled on a pile of windmill turbines in a lot.  We all got great looks at it and some even got great photographs (not I, of course).  This was the 7th state record of Snowy Owl in Arkansas; some of those records being arguable at best.  

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

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