To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven
There is a saying in Arkansas: “If you don’t like the weather then wait a few minutes and it will change.” Just when we think we’re going to get an early spring a crippling snow/ice storm hits. Just when we think we are recovering from the last snow/ice storm we get another one.
On my weekly trek to Pine Bluff I made an ill-advised trip to Bayou Bartholomew. I decided on this nature trail because I had not been there in a while and eBird has very little late winter reports for this locale. So, I packed my rubber boots and headed out. I got on the trail and realized that Pine Bluff got more ice than snow and the trees were still covered in ice. Bayou Bartholomew is a very wooded trail and throughout my walk I dodged falling ice and falling tree limbs. My ear birding was hindered greatly because of the constant falling of ice chunks. However, there were still several birds out and about. I was greeted with a flyby mockingbird and a Phoebe hunting on a semi frozen pond. A Great Blue Heron walked the perimeter of the pond and a couple of Gadwall and Shovelers swam in the middle. The trees were filled with Yellow-rumped Warblers and their “chup” calls. Cardinals darted here and there among the frozen understory. The Carolina Wrens decided to belt out a few songs.
The midpoint of the trail features an observation blind which is in front of a reedy, shallow part of the bayou. I decided that the water was shallow enough for me to wade around in and hopefully see some overwintering rails or a Marsh Wren. A few steps into the cold water revealed a hole in my left boot. I and my cold, wet foot had to muddle through. The end of the trail held a couple of rewards: Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Brown Creeper. Both birds were new on the year in Jefferson County.
After a change of shoes, I drove to Wilbur West to look at the wetlands. This was a good choice for I saw several species of waterfowl. There were Canada Geese and Ring-necked Ducks in a small pond just before the wetlands. The main body of water held a few Mallards, a lone Wood Duck, and a male Hooded Merganser. A flooded field adjacent to the main body of water had several marching ducks. This group was dominated mostly by Green-winged Teal but there were many Mallards, Gadwall, Northern Pintails, and a few American Wigeons. The wigeons were a first in Jefferson County for me.
Back at home I take advantage of the birds’ lowered inhibitions and sneak in for a few close up photos of the birds. This has inspired me to create a new series of pages called backyard birds.
The Ruby-crowned Kinglets have surprised me with their faithfulness to the suet cakes this winter.
Our Chipping Sparrows remain faithful to millet year round.
Fox Sparrows only come out of the thickets and woods during times of inclement weather but are always a treat to see.
Our goldfinches can’t be quite the gluttons with sunflower seeds and nyjer. I’ve seen them chase off birds twice their size.
Carolina Wrens and Eastern Phoebes have adored the dried mealworms that I put out. I’m sure that they would prefer I keep a live culture, though.
The Dark-eyed Juncos are probably the most faithful backyard visitor during the winter.
Our downy Woodpeckers are almost constantly seen at the suet feeders during the winter. They often have to chase off Juncos, Pine Warblers, and Kinglets.