Saracen via Sheridan

On a cold, sleet-filled day I went down to Sheridan and then to Saracen.  The weather was terrible but the birds and other animals were out in full force.

White-tailed Deer and Canada Geese

White-tailed Deer and Canada Geese

Birding was not my primary purpose in Sheridan but I did come across a nice grouping of birds near Little Creek Cutoff Rd.  There were several American Pipits in yards with bluebirds and Killdeer.  At least 6 Turkey Vultures flew overhead and a Red-shouldered Hawk perched nearby on a powerline.  A Brown Thrasher narrowly missed getting hit by my car while it was crossing the road.  For a short drive through a small town, there were a lot of birds out.

American Pipit

American Pipit

Saracen was bitter cold.  The ambient temperature was only about 32F (0C; that one is an easy conversion).  However, the wind chill was very much below freezing and it sleeted my entire stay.  The stay was productive as the birds were out and about.  I started taking pictures in the parking lot of a few Ring-billed Gulls that seemed to be in need of a siesta.

Ring-billed Gull.  Immature; maybe 1st-year.

Ring-billed Gull. Immature; maybe 1st-year.

Ring-billed Gull.  Immature; maybe 2nd-year.

Ring-billed Gull. Immature; maybe 2nd-year.

A female Bufflehead foraged close to the rocky shore and I got some good pics of her.

Female Bufflehead

Female Bufflehead

Shoveler rafts covered the lake but in and amongst them were a few other species like Bufflehead, Mallards, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, American Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, and first of year Canvasback.

Northern Shoveler pair

Northern Shoveler pair

Mostly Shovelers

Mostly Shovelers

Canvasback

Canvasback

A group of Wilson’s Snipe foraged among a mudflat with Killdeer, Egrets and Herons.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

A dead fish attracted a few Black Vultures and a single Turkey Vulture.  The lawns were filled with sparrows and cardinals.  There were dozens of Song Sparrows, a handful of White-throated Sparrows, and a couple of Field Sparrows.  A Winter Wren called from a marshy thicket where some Gadwalls foraged nearby.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

I did get a quasi-rarity.  For this winter and perhaps last winter a Spotted Sandpiper has decided to overwinter on Lake Saracen.  The Arkansas Bird Records Committee (http://arbirds.org/) lists this bird as a rare winter resident.  However, this bird is a common migrant and the lake has excellent habitat for the bird.  This bird looks like it is starting to get some breeding plumage with a few spots on the flanks.

Rare and elusive Spotted Sandpiper

Rare and elusive Spotted Sandpiper

It was a good trip despite the weather and several bird species were seen.  Here are Lake Saracen reports/details from eBird: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L504942

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