October at Boyd Point

Boyd Point Wastewater Treatment Facility is one of the top birding hotspots of Pine Bluff.  In the state it has reached birding popularity due to the large quantity of Eared Grebes that overwinter on the treatment ponds.  Eared Grebes are somewhat common migrants throughout the state but uncommon-rare winter residents.  I have a few birding buddies that bird this facility on an almost daily basis during spring and fall migration.  Several species of shorebirds, ducks, gulls/terns, and waders have been recorded here.  I have picked up several lifers here including the Eared Grebe.

I went to Pine Bluff on Thursday (Oct. 9) for a church meeting but got there early.  I decided to do some birding at Boyd Point.  I went to Boyd Pt. several times during July, August, and September, but had never gone in October.  Eared Grebes and American Avocets had been reported the previous week so I thought I’d mosey on down to check them out (Eared Grebe is needed on the year).

I pulled in around 1 pm to find a large groups of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (9), Mourning Doves (21) and Northern Rough-winged Swallows (17) on power lines near the entrance.  There are agri fields adjacent to the entrance and I was able to pick up a Mockingbird, Starling, and a Meadowlark; all of which were counted but not technically seen within the facility property.  I signed in at the office and head out.  Before I even moved the car I could tell there were a lot of ducks on the first pond.  They turned out to be mostly Shovelers but there were a few Mallards and Coots mixed.  An employers flushed 94 Canada Geese into this same pond which threw off my counting (estimating) of Northern Shovelers.  In the first pond I estimated 250 shovelers.  I drove alongside this pond and flushed a few Spotted Sandpipers and Killdeer from the rip rap and gravel road.  I scanned the rip rap on the inaccessible banks and saw just a Great Egret and a Fish Crow.  The pond behind the first contained many more ducks.  However, this group had a more even distribution of species present.  Here I counted a higher proportion of Coots and a good proportion of Ruddy Ducks mixed in with another large group of Shovelers.  This back pond, and the one beside it are the two largest ponds and these are the ones that typically hold the grebes and where the avocets were reported.  Unfortunately, neither were seen.

Northern Shovelers females and some males in eclipse plumage

Northern Shovelers females and some males in eclipse plumage

Northern Shoveler females

Northern Shoveler females

American Coot

American Coot

I drove along a smaller pond that contained islands of floating waste.  On these islands I have seen several species of sandpipers this year.  On this outing I only saw two species but I did large numbers.  Foraging among the floating waste were 29 Least Sandpipers and 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper.  They are and have always been very approachable when they are on this floating matter which allows for some good photography.  This pond also held several American Bullfrogs that were also very approachable.

Least Sandpiper taking off

Least Sandpiper taking off

Least Sandpiper on floating waste

Least Sandpiper on floating waste

Least Sandpiper pair

Least Sandpiper pair

Bitterweed (Helenium amarum) grew in and along the levees and served several butterflies.  In the summer, if the birding is great at Boyd Pt., you can always fall back on butterflying.  Even though it was a slow day (for Boyd Pt standards) I did get 11 species of butterflies.  Although they have overlapping flight seasons, and are fairly common, I have never seen a Pearl and Phaon Crescent in the same area.  On this outing I had them on the same florescence.  Unfortunately, I could not get a picture (I was too busy savoring the moment).

Dainty Sulphur on bitterweed

Dainty Sulphur on bitterweed

Fiery Skipper female on bitterweed

Fiery Skipper female on bitterweed

Pearl Crescent on bitterweed

Pearl Crescent on bitterweed

Phaon Crescent on and beside bitterweed

Phaon Crescent on and beside bitterweed

Butterfly List:

  • Cloudless Sulphur
  • Southern Dogface
  • Little Yellow
  • Dainty Sulphur
  • Pearl Crescent
  • Phaon Crescent
  • Buckeye
  • Hackberry Emperor
  • Goatweed Leafwing
  • Common Checkered Skipper
  • Fiery Skipper

Two common, large, green-colored frogs in Arkansas are the American Bullfrog and the Green Frog.  These can be sort of difficult to tell apart if you don’t get a good look.  One trait to look for to distinguish these two are the ridges on their backs.  The Green Frog’s ridges go down the sides of its back while the ridges of the Am. Bullfrog loop around its ear (tympanum).

American Bullfrog backside

American Bullfrog backside

American Bullfrog side view

American Bullfrog side view

The dragonflies were not as abundant and I only managed to see four species:  Wandering Glider, Black Saddlebags, Common Whitetail, and Common Green Darner.

Although the weather was hot and muggy and the algal blooms in the ponds filled the air with a terrible smell, it was a good outing.

Birds Seen: (in order of appearance)

  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher–9
  • House Sparrow–7
  • Eastern Meadowlark–1
  • Mourning Dove–21
  • European Starling–1
  • Northern Mockingbird–1
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow–17
  • Northern Cardinal–7
  • American Coot–119
  • Great Egret–2
  • Mallard–8
  • Northern Shoveler–450
  • Canada Goose–94
  • Spotted Sandpiper–5
  • Blue Jay–1
  • Fish Crow–1
  • Killdeer–10
  • Ruddy Duck–45
  • Great Blue Heron–2
  • Least Sandpiper–29
  • Carolina Wren–2
  • Blue-winged Teal–4
  • Pied-billed Grebe–1
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper–1
  • Carolina Chickadee–1
  • Tufted Titmouse–1
  • Turkey Vulture–1

 

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