Beaverfork Lake and 2 Rivers Park 1/31-2/1/14

I was headed home late afternoon on Friday when I got an email saying there were 12 White-winged Scoters on Beaverfork Lake in Conway.  I was in Mayflower so I turned  around and headed back north on I-40.  I pulled into the park area and the first 4 birds I saw on the lack were the Scoters.  There were 3 males and 1 female.  One of the males may have been a first year.  The lighting was bad and they were about 75 yds away so I couldn’t make out too much except for the white wing.  I watched them for a few minutes and saw one of them victimized by a kleptoparasitic Ring-billed Gull.  The gull stole a fish from one of them but dropped it shortly after.  Around the scoters were a few coots, Bufflheads, Canada Geese, and several Lesser Scaup.  In a nearby lawn, I sifted through a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers to find a semi-rarity.  The flock went to ground and foraged on the lawn and adjacent muddy bank.  Among the flock was a similar, but different warbler:  a Palm Warbler.  A few Palm Warblers will overwinter in the state but usually in the southern part, not the central.  This was a western subspecies with dull olive body and bright yellow crissum.

White-winged Scoters

White-winged Scoters

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

The next day, Saturday, a couple of us went out to check on a sighting of Long-tailed Ducks at Two Rivers Park in Maumelle (Little Rock).  We got there and found another birder with a scope on the Arkansas River.  We talked to him and scanned the river but found only Pied-billed Grebes.  We crossed the bridge to the trails in search for an overwintering Gray Catbird that I had seen a few years earlier.  We followed the trail through pine woods, then through an area of bottomland hardwood, a section of open, grassy fields, and finally a series of ponds and flooded woods.  Many birds were seen but no Catbirds.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

The next Friday (2/7) I went to Two Rivers again.  Throughout the week there were several records of the ducks being seen close to shore.  I stopped by and found two of the ducks right away.  Other birders stopped by and pointed out a few more.  I crossed the bridge where the windchill was probably subzero (definitely subzero C).

Long-tailed Duck male

Long-tailed Duck male

Long-tailed Duck female

Long-tailed Duck female

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