With fall comes fall migration. Our summer residents are heading out, winter residents are beginning to arrive, and neotropical migrants are passing through. On a day with a low in the mid 40s (F) and the high in the mid 90s (F), I found all three of these on an outing to Two Rivers Park in Little Rock.
I chose Two Rivers because someone had reported a bunch of newly arrived sparrows and Sedge Wrens (a potential Lifer that has become a nemesis). I arrived around 900 am and headed straight for the fields. Two Rivers Park features a nice section of grassy fields with islands of plums and cedars (technically junipers). I walked these fields trying to flush birds into these shrubs. Shortly after leaving the paved trail I flushed up a First of Season (FOS) Lincoln’s Sparrow. Walking a little further I sent a FOS House Wren into a tree. This was the first of at least seven seen on this day; the most of these I have ever seen in one day. House Wren distribution is kind of weird in Arkansas. They will breed in the northern parts of the state, migrate through the center and some will overwinter in the southern parts of the state.
I followed an equestrian trail since the grass got about five and half feet tall. I walked along transitional zones of the woods/fields.
There were Eastern Meadowlarks throughout with a smattering of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Northern Cardinals.
At one point I flushed about 30 Mourning Doves from the ground. After they had left I saw a Red Fox give me the stink eye for I had scared off a potential lunch.
I made it back to the open and headed for a large island that consisted mostly of plum. American Goldfinches, Mockingbirds, and Phoebes skirted around it as I approached. Among them was a small, brown sparrow that stayed near the edge of the thicket. I snapped a few quick photos for documentation then viewed it through binoculars. At first I thought it was a LeConte’s Sparrow. I knew it was definitely an Ammodramus sp. of sparrow but I went back and forth. I finally decided that it was a Grasshopper Sparrow based on facial colors, beak and structural dimensions. I hadn’t seen a Grasshopper Sparrow for a couple of years so this was pretty exciting.
I left the field area sans Sedge Wren but I did get several other birds.
After the fields I headed to the woods. There was a nice tract of bottomland hardwood nearby which led to a section of the Arkansas River. I was immediately engulfed by the sounds of Catbirds and Thrashers that stayed unseen in a thick understory. Robins, Cardinals, and White-throated Sparrows foraged in the trail and at the wood’s edge. Baccharis (Baccharis halimifolia) was in bloom and gave off a hearty smell. Bees, hover flies, and butterflies crowded around these rather inconspicuous blooms. Eastern Tailed-Blues and Sachems jockeyed for position on this woody composite.
I made it to a grove of Sycamores and noticed a lot of avian action. Here, I immediately found a beautiful Blue-headed Vireo. Shortly after it, I found a Black-throated Green Warbler. Both were FOS.
As I left the park I watched a Turkey Vulture and Red-tailed Hawk soar overhead.
This was a great outing that provided several gems of fall. Hopefully, we can add to this series featuring the great wildlife to be seen this season. Here are some other cool things seen during this outing: