Eureka Nature

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

Monday, March 28, 2005

Action picking up on Migrant Front

It didn't seem like a very promising morning, cold, gray, and windy, but there were lots of birds and lots of kinds of birds. Several species made their first appearances of the year. A really satisfying example were two Black-and-White Warblers, both females, singing a song slightly different than the territorial male's "see-saw,see-saw". There were three at least singing Louisiana Waterthrushes, and the first returning Chipping Sparrow. Large numbers of Juncos were gathering for the jump north.

There were one each of Eastern Towhee and Brown Thrasher, returning migrants. The Towhee was keeping company with a Bewick's Wren, near the area where the wrens had a sucessful nest two years ago, which was investigated by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. I found a singing male in the same area last year, but two good trash washing floods may have destroyed the nest that may have been attempted, food for idle speculation. Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye out for this critter, and hoping for another nest. Most of the ducks are gone, a few Buffs still, and Grebes. On the other hand, there were numerous Wood Ducks, and I found one pair serenely keeping company up the creek at the place where I've found a natural blind that allows viewing of a quiet pool.

New flowers blooming were a Buttercup, and some Phlox. I checked the "Rock Garden" along the Beacham trail as it climbs the far side of the lake, but that North slope wasn't warm enough yet. However, the Trout Lilies had their single leaves up in profusion, tho no blooms that I could find.

Other developments: Talking with Kurtz Miller, the manager of the park, revealed that they had found tracks of a large cat critter, tho they hadn't made a positive distinction between Cougar and Bobcat. He also expressed dismay at the steady spread of the floating vegetation. He thought it was Hydrilla, but Annie Rogers, a retired fisheries biologist resident in Eureka, had presented a specimen for ID to some folks familiar with these things, and they said it was Asian Water Milfoil, a common aquarium plant. Kurtz had done the correct first step by stocking Grass Carp, a vegetarian fish species that can control the invasive growth. What is needed now is physical removal of as much as possible, meaning folks in boats and waders manually hooking and dragging the stuff out of the lake. That seems daunting, but two pieces of good news make it more likely. First, it is possible to lower the lake level to allow better access, and second, he has made preliminary arrangements with folks at the National Forest Work Center who may be able to provide a crew, as well as a Boy Scout Troop that has volunteered for whatever service they maight be reasonably called on to provide.


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