Year’s First Visit to Wilbur West

This evening, I went to Wilbur West Rd.  This is one of big hotspots of Pine Bluff.  It features agri fields, wetlands, scrubby fields, bottomland hardwood, and Bayou Imbeau.  I hoped to get ducks and field birds.  I’m trying for a big year in Jefferson County, AR.  I started the year at Saracen and 55 species and I added 9 from Wilbur West.  None of the big birders of Pine Bluff/White Hall keep year lists (that I know of) and the only eBirders for the county are inconsistent and usually only get less than 100 species in a year.  The highest year count I have seen for the county is 169 species.  This year my goal for the county is 200.  I will try to maintain an additional list on my pages.

On this day I started at about 4 pm.  There was still a lot of sun but the temperature was dropping quick.  I passed a group of Rock Pigeons and European Starlings driving in.  The first habitat I came across was the wetlands.  On the water were several Mallards and Great Blue Herons.  Overhead, two Red-tailed Hawks got into a tussle.  One was much larger and was probably a female while the smaller one was probably a male.  This would follow the typical sexual dimorphism that raptors display.  The two roadside ditches were covered with reeds and one side of the wetlands was a willow stand.  On this side of the road was an overwintering Common Yellowthroat.  This warbler is an uncommon overwinterer in the southern part of the state.  I saw it in February of 2013 but missed it in both winter seasons of 2014.  However it is a very common breeder throughout the state.  With it were several sparrows: Swamp, Song, and a White-throat.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

I moved on to some agricultural fields where I found several White-crowned Sparrows and about 40 Mourning Doves.  Several of the White-crowns were singing which further solidified their songs in my memory.  Mixed in with the Mourning Doves were several yellow breasted.  These were the Eastern Meadowlarks which were my first of the year.

White-crowned Sparrow immature

White-crowned Sparrow immature

White-crowned immature

White-crowned immature

Next, I passed over the bayou and heard a Cardinal, or two, and a Northern Flicker.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker called apprehensively as another Red-tailed flew over the bottomland hardwood.  Wood Ducks flew over called as they flew overhead.

As I left, 13 Canada Geese flew overhead and a Black Vulture tore at a carcass on the side of the road.  It was surprisingly good outing despite the lateness of the day.  I got 27 species with several new on the year.

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