Willow Beach Park is another Little Rock park that is located on the Arkansas River. From Interstate 440, take the England Rd. exit (exit 7) and go east. You will travel east on England Rd. for approximately 2 miles (slightly more than 2). Than you will take a right and head south on Colonel Maynard Rd. You will find a subdivision on a road call Blue Heron Parkway. Take this road west and it will lead you into the park. This is a Army Corps of Engineers park that has camping facilities. This park is very forested with bottomland hardwoods. There is access to both the river and adjacent oxbow lakes. A few man made ponds are found in the park as well. There are pavilions and playgrounds as well as a boat ramp and a few fishing docks.
This park has something for all times of the year. I like to frequent it most in the winter. During the winter water birds will congregate on the river, oxbows, and man made ponds. Gadwalls are common; as are Pied-billed and Horned Grebes. Bufflehead, Goldeneyes, Scaup, and Hooded Mergansers are found in the deeper waters. Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are found year round. An occasional rarity can be found here too. In December 2012 I found a Western Grebe among the Pied-billed and Horned (first record for Pulaski County). Orange-crowned Warblers are commonly reported from this park in the winter along with several other woodland denizens. Barred Owls, Harriers, Cooper’s Hawks, Red-tailed, and Red-shouldered can be found in and around the park. Horned Larks congregate in the fields outside the park along with Meadowlarks and Shrikes.
During the summer months, when its “too hot” for birds, I like to transition to insects and herps. This is a great place for both of those. I’ve seen several interesting butterflies and dragonflies as well as some cool reptiles.