A slow summer yielded very few rarities in AR so when a California Gull shows up on Lake Dardanelle, I and other birders flock to the lake. Delaware Bay is between Paris and Dardanelle off of Highway 22 and accumulates quite a few rare gulls including Thayer’s, Sabine, Glaucous, California, and Lesser Black-backed Gull. A few others and I went to the lake this morning and looked for the gull.
We birded around the lake for about an hour before we found a gull. We saw 2 gulls a few hundred yards out and watched them fly around. They were to far for identification and we gave up on them and focused on a flock of Forster’s Terns that followed them. We moved then to a flock of Egrets flying low over the water, moving to a reed bed on the other side of the lake. When we looked for the gulls again we found one on a stump still fairly far out. We watched the gull for at least an hour through the scope but never got a real definitive look. It looked to be a second-year gull and much bigger than the common Ring-billed Gull. We looked at the terminal band and the color of the rump to distinguish the uncommon, but present, Herring Gull. The rump looked white which would suggest a California. In the end we didn’t count the gull because we never got a great look but the Forster’s Tern were first of the year. I plan to go back sometime in the near future to look for it again and to look out for some Black Terns.
While we weren’t watching the mystery gull we looked around at the other birds and arthropods. We found two Baltimore Oriole nests in nearby Persimmons. Both breeding nuthatches, White-breasted and Brown-headed, were heard calling incessantly. Eastern Wood-Pewees were singing and fighting all around us. One Pewee took a few dives at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. A Belted Kingfisher flew by us on the banks several times looking for a good perch to hunt from. Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were common among the forests and pastures that surrounded the park.
We encountered a variety of arthropods. Double-striped Bluets were common in the grassy lawns adjacent to the lake. Prince Baskettails patrolled the shallow waters while Common Whitetails and Widow Skimmers hunted among emergent vegetation. A few Wandering Gliders and Saddlebags followed us as we flushed small flying insects from the grass. Giant Swallowtails, Silver-spotted Skipper, Eastern-tailed Blue, and a Black Swallowtail were some of the butterflies seen around the park.