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 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.
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.
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.