Eureka Nature

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

Friday, March 03, 2006

Black Bass Lake

Thursday I went to Black Bass Lake to see what was flying around. I have joined the Trails advisory committee, and one of the current projects is a set of trails around this sweet little lake. Figured I might as well start a bird list too. On the initial hike there I found the first Wilson's Snipe I've ever seen in Carroll County, which I figured for a good omen indeed. I've often thought they should be at Leatherwood, but have had no luck there finding them.

A sure sign of spring was a pair of Wood Ducks, the first of the year. I haven't even seen them mentioned on the Arkansas birder alert system, ARbird, a listserv. There have been notices of Woodcocks, and I saw one on Monday in Fayetteville. I see them very occasionally at Leatherwood, but have never seen them sky dancing there. I need to hang around some evening soon, just at dark, and see if they do their ceremony on the edge of the inlet woods.

The last couple of days were warm enough the bring out a couple of butterflies too. I found one Mourning Cloak, splendid in its gold rimmed velvet black, and another smaller orange critter, with scalloped wings. I don't recall its name, but know that it's something that overwinters as an adult, and can be found on any warm day in early spring. I need to ask Lori Spencer, the Arkansas Butterfly expert, for the name again.

Another great sign is the increase in birdsong. Cardinals are staking out territories, and proclaiming ownership. Their breeding frenzy still hasn't reached full throttle though, and most are still foraging in mixed flocks of male and female, but I'm seeing more aggression, more edginess in their behavior, less tolerance for the close approach of another individual of the same sex at feeders etc. The Pine Warblers are trilling from the tops of the groves on the ridges, and Eureka is blessed with numerous places where you can hear them. They can be hard to spot, but it's worth the effort. The yellow isn't the bright lemon of the Goldfinches (which are beginning to molt into breeding colors) but rather the color of burnished old gold or polished brass. Add a nice eye-ring and wing bars and you have a fancy bit of small glory. A little later in the year, you can find them on the very tips of the pine limbs, digging caterpillars out of the growing needle tufts. The insects are drawn to the fresh vegetation, which doesn't have its full array of defensive chemicals in place. Fresh spring salad.


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