Eureka Nature

For posting information about natural history events in and around Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Wood Ducks and a Woodcock

I birded Leatherwood on Saturday morning, seeing the forcast for rain on Sunday. A vast improvement from last week; I had as many species within fifty feet of my parking space as I'd had the whole previous trip. The best birds of the day were four returning Wood Ducks. These may not end up being the actual summer residents, but they are the front edge of that movement. Woodies must be the most beautiful bird in North America, and always a pleasure to see. Several pairs breed up the creek from the Lake, and then bring their babies out on the big water as they mature. They're pretty shy, and often hide when they see the first human of the day, so if you want to see them, you have to get there early. A scope helps get a good view since they seem to favor the far side of the lake.

Another good surprise was a Woodcock, aka Mud Hen, which I flushed along the lakeshore. I've seen them at Leatherwood once before, a great look since they didn't flush but just continued probing the deep mud for earthworms.

The fragrant patch of pennyroyal on the trail behnd the parked Forest Management bulldozer was starting to sprout.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Late Winter Doldrums

It seemed like a beautiful morning, but was virtully birdless. I found only eighteen species, and not many of them. The winter visitors seem to have all gone north, except for some White-throated Sparrows, and some remaining ducks. Even their numbers are falling. Missing were Coots, Sapsuckers, Flickers, Kinglets, Juncos, Song Sparrows, maybe others. But the first Red-wing Blackbird was singing "okralee" in a bed of reeds. Didn't notice any plant signs increasing, but the peepers were calling, and I found a couple of Leopard Frogs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Spring Peepers

Here's a sample of a spring peeper call, and a mug shot. I heard somebody say that when you've heard them three times, then it's spring.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Wet Gray Morning at Leatherwood

It wasn't very birdy either, maybe the first ime ever that I got out of the truck and heard not a single bird, not even a crow. Still drizzly after the rain and dark from dense clouds. In the whole morning I saw only three woodpeckers, instead of the usual twenty, but still finally ended up with 29 species. The best part of the day was a flock of Northern Shovelers, and the return of the Kingfisher.

There were more signs of spring, including the singing peepers, and sprouting mints along the trail, as well as new sprouts at the base of the water hemlock. No territorial bird song, but several Turkey Vultures were playing about in the wind, and they are one of the first migrants to return.