Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea was very cloudy and cold today, Wednesday. It was also the day for the water birds for sure. There is a private pond right next to the south border of the park and in it were several Mallard Ducks and American Coots and some Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants. Overhead were hundreds of Herring Gulls flying about and some diving down close to the water. What a sight to see and I stayed there a long time watching it all. Before that visit, I went to a new boat launching site on Lake Dardanelle not far from Bona Dea. There I viewed more of the Double-crested Cormorants than I have seen in a long time. Looked like hundreds of them. They were landing on the electric high line towers in the lake and swimming in the water and flying overhead. There were hundreds of the Herring Gulls flying and landing on the water. On the causeway coming back, there were several American Coots actually walking on the highway and the shoulder. Don't know what that was all about unless they were looking for grit. The other day I saw at the park and saw a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker woodpecker birds. They were in the trees on the East end of the Big Bridge over Prairie Creek. They seem to stay just in that one area flying from tree to tree. Have seen them there for several days now. Today I also saw 6 White Tail Deer. They were just standing close together and were watching me for a few minutes until one ran off and the others followed. They were at the bottom of Bullfrog Pond. The pond is almost completely dry due to the drought in this part of the country. I saw some very pretty bright orange berries on a shrub that had lost its leaves for the winter. It turned out to be a Possumhaw or winterberry holly tree, Llex dedicua, on Swinging Bridge Trail. Three photos here of the berries and tree. Also there are several of these evergreen shrubs in the park and actually all over this part of the USA. It is a Chinese Common Privet shrub-Ligustrum sinense-on trail by the Pumping Station. Photo of the leaves and one of the plant. I have been starting to feed the deer and ducks and mourning doves. The deer have been eating and then covering up the remainder that is left. Not going to make this a full time thing like feeding the fish in the summer.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bona Dea and Holla Bend Parks Update

The weather has been from cool to cold in this area. Still in need of a lot of rain. The migratory birds are coming in pretty good now. Got a chance to see a White-breasted Nuthatch. This is a good look at one. Also yesterday, Tuesday, I was at the Spillway at Bona Dea and looked around and saw the water rippling like something was in the water. I noticed on the other side a really big beaver and was feeding on the bank. Did not have a camera but this is what it looked almost exactly looked like. Last week I saw 6 white tailed deer at the same visit. One was at Bullfrog pond and the other 5 were across Prairie Creek by the pumping station just down from Bullfrog pond. But it was after dark and one of the 5 came to the water's edge as it saw me but could not make me out as it was in the light of a close by nightwatcher light and I was in the dark. It started stomping its front feet and grunting. So I started doing the same thing. It got all excited and started doing it more and more and finally jumping around. The other 4 deer just were standing around watching the show. Finally it ran into the woods and the others followed. Which I had a video of that show. The mallard ducks are really coming into Bona Dea for the winter. Even though the water level is really low. The Canadian Geese are coming in just before dark to Black Water Swamp as they do each day in the winter months. Lots of pretty cardinal birds flocking up and moving around. But last Wednesday I left Bona Dea to take on a nearby National Wildlife Refuge called Holla Bend close to the town of Dardanelle, Arkansas. A friend came from out of town to take some pictures. I will post some here but this is a link to the relevant ones I saved on album. We saw a pair of Nine Banded Armadillos. I thought one was there but another one was hid and jumped up close to me and I jumped too. The other one stayed around and this is a pretty good closeup. It needs a shave don't you think? Also a Red- Shouldered Hawk sitting in a tree. Also a shot of a Double-crested Cormorant taking off over the water and showing it skipping its feet in the water. A flock of American White Pelicans. Click on the photo for a closeup showing their weird large beaks that seem to hold their heads down. One funny thing happened on this field trip. We were driving down a road parallel to the Arkansas River and was driving real slow looking for wildlife. Up ahead there was something up high in a tree right close to the road. It looked like something with a white head and I thought of the Bald Eagle first thing. So I get out of the vehicle and start walking very deliberately as not to scare it away. It was sorta behind some limbs and I could not get a good shot of it from far away. So I kept slipping up on it hoping all the time that it would not fly off. So I just got closer and closer and wondering why it had not flown away and finally after getting almost completely underneath it I saw what it was. It was a Bald-faced Hornet nest. They are big wasps that really can sting you. This photo is of the big nest hanging from the tree limbs. Of course it is winter hear so the insects have left. But here is a link to what they look like.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bona Dea Plants Update

Bona Dea was cloudy the last few days with about 1 and a half inches of rain. This is very welcome. The authorities have been pumping Prairie Creek for some stupid reason. This has lowered the water level and the ducks have not been as numerous. I had the opportunity in the last few days to take some photos of some fall and winter plants. The tree with the red leaves is a Red Maple-Acer rubrum L. It was ironically located right next to Maple Creek Bridge. A photo showing the leaves of this tree as a carpet underneath it. All in all the colors at the park were not too good this year. Lack of rain and real not temperatures most likely. The small green bush with red berries is a Heavenly Bamboo-Nandina domestica. It was located below the bluffs on Serendipity Trail at the West end of the park. The other 2 photos is of a Christmas Fern-Polystichum acrostichoides.This was located in the exact same spot as the Bamboo. This is an interesting note about the Christmas Fern: Why the name Christmas?-If you look closely at the leaves, you will see that they are made of many leaflets in pairs on either side of the central stalk. Each of these leaflets has a little "ear" pointing upward along the stalk. These ears make the leaflet look something like a Christmas stocking. Kinda interesting huh!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea was very cloudy today, Thursday. It had rained about an inch in the past 2 days. We needed it and a whole lot more. I had a visitor with me at the park today from out of town. He was a former co-worker and he is a friend that wanted to bring his camera and take some photos. We walked on most of Serendipity Trail and on Swinging Bridge Trail and did some exploring in the bluffs on the west side. So Paul Ray gets the credit for the photos on this post. We went to where the Alligator usually plays around. Of course it is in its winter sleep format by now. While at the bluffs and going down the steep stairs, he took this water pond photo of Black Water Swamp. It had several ducks in it. It is very run over with lily pads and other vegetation. Also a Great Blue Heron wading bird was there and we actually saw a few more all over the park. Coming into the park after parking, he took these 2 photos of the two separate park signs. The Mallard Ducks photo was taken up stream from the Big Bridge on Prairie Creek. The photo showing all the leaves shows a small White-throated Sparrow bird right in the middle of the photo. There were a lot of birds out today. Some nuthatches, Pileated Wookpeckers, Cardinals, Crows, Cormorants on their on snag on Lake Dardanelle, Carolina Chickadees. Some really small birds that looked like Acadian Flycatchers or something similar birds. Gray Squirrels were all over the place. I had hoped to see a deer but no luck on this trip. Also some very small brown Grebie Ducks out close to the Cormorants. But from both ends of Prairie Creek straight through the park, the Mallard and Blue Teal ducks were all over. Did not see any Wood Ducks. That was odd. But they won't mix with the Mallards to well if they don't have some room. The Bird and Duck populations are starting to look like they did this time last year. But the water levels are really low. Never have seen them that low and Bull Frog Pond is completely dry or was before this last rain. The authorities have completed cleaning out the pumping station debris that accumulates from the drainage from the City of Russellville and backs up at the pumping station screens. We had a good visit and will do it together again pretty soon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea was sunny and cool today, Saturday. At the South end of the Swinging Bridge Trail next to Prairie Creek, there were several Downy Woodpeckers being real noisy pecking away for food. Small gleaning birds and some Acadian Flycatchers were with the woodpeckers. Also Robin birds were flocking together all over the park. Great Blue Herons were in several spots. Fox Squirrels are beginning to show up more than usual. The Grey Squirrels far out number the Reddish Fox types. However in urban residential areas the opposite is true. At the Big Bridge over Prairie Creek looking upstream to the South, I saw Mallard Ducks and Wood Ducks mingling together and foraging in the mud areas along the creek. These 3 photos shows the grouping. The 3 wood ducks, 2 females and 1 male, can be seen at the very top of the photos. The female and male Mallards are the ones below them and closest to the camera. I noticed yesterday when I took an exercise walk, something I have never seen before at the park. I had always noticed a mound that looked like a Native American burial mound or some kind of human dirt construction but never walked over and inspected. Well I did yesterday and got quite a surprise. I saw this brick ring just laying over on its side. I could not figure out what it was. There were thorn bushes and small trees and vines all around the area. I walked behind and up on a small dirt mound and again to my surprise I saw a big hole in the ground. Then bingo, I realized that this was a Hand Dug Water Well for some residence long ago. So today I took the camera and took the photo of the brick ring that is actually the protective wall that all such wells have. But it would stand upright on top of the well hole. The other photo is looking down into the well hole. It is probably about 4 feet deep as it has been filled close to the top. It am sure it was pretty deep when in use. The hole is about 2 feet in diameter and the diameter of the outside of the brick protective wall about 4 feet. Also the well hole is lined with brick that you can make out in the hole photo. I have seen these type wells in the Ozark Mountains of this state where my Ancestors used to live. I know of 2 of them on their former properties. They are lined with natural stone and have no remaining protective walls. Also close by were some Blue Mistflower wildflowers. This is a photo of some of the blooms.I walked over the deer trail between the spillway and Serpendipity Trail and saw 2 White Tail deer walking in the Creek and then crossing it to disappear into the thick woods over by the water well site. Could not get a photo shot.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bona Dea Update

The last 2 days has produced about one half inch of much needed rain. The creeks and ponds at Bona Dea are really low. The nights have turned much cooler and the vegetation has started to lose its leaves and has stopped growing. Also the ducks and geese have began to move back in. On Prairie Creek just a few yards north of the Big Bridge on Serendipity Trail there is a flock of Mallard Ducks that just keep moving or swimming in the water chasing each other as they usually do. Only a few feet from them is a flock of Wood Ducks. They keep separated and watch each other. You cannot see these flocks unless you leave the trail and walk down thru the bottom-land and woods and sneak up on them before they fly. Today, I was walking, without camera, and close to the West entrance to the park, I saw a unusual and pretty sight. There were a couple of oak trees next to each other and in the tops were several gray squirrels cutting acorns, the hulls would fall to the ground and through the limbs and leaves making a noise and then several Acadian Flycatcher birds were darting about the lower limps trying to catch food and then on the trunks closer to the ground there were White-breasted Nuthatch birds gleaning the bark for insects. I stayed there and watched for several minutes. All kinds of wildlife in that one spot. Also flocks of Eastern Phobie birds were about. They have long slender tails and constantly flip them up and down. Flocks of American Crows were flying around and the Cormorants were back in Lake Dardanelle on the snags spreading their wings wide open. Just like last year. Also the Grebe very small brown ducks were in the water closeby. Today I also saw a Night Heron wading bird standing in Prairie Creek by the big bridge and just staring down at the water for as long as I was there trying to hypnotize a fish for supper. Have been continuing to feed the fish every few days. But the many many Turkey Vultures have not returned to the area as yet. Yesterday I saw a white tailed deer standing motionless at the edge of Prairie Creek not far from the spillway. He was waiting for me to move first. I did and then he did. A few days ago at a boat launching ramp close to the park on Lake Dardanelle I happened to notice some very pretty and to me unusual type of daisy flowers that were still blooming in this colder weather. I took these photos of a Lobed Tickseed wildflower..

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bona Dea Plants Update

Bona Dea received very little rain in the past 2 days. Most of state got more than around here. I was walking at the park on Sunday, 10-24-10, and saw some unusual wildflowers and then went to my vehicle and got the camera. The leaves on the trees around here have not really turned real pretty this year so far. But the sumac bushes never fail to provide their brilliant red shine. This bush,photo, is a Smooth or Scarlet Sumac. This one was by the Dike that separates Lake Dardanelle from Bona Dea Sanctuary. The photo showing the red spike flowers which look like firecrackers is called a Lady's Thumb. By the Pumping Station. If you enlarge the photo and look at the leaf in the middle of the photo and then look at the middle of the leaf and you w ill see a dark spot. People of long ago thought this looked like a lady's thumb and hence called it such. Kinda interesting don't you think. The photo with the small yellow bloom is a Common Purslane wildflower. By the Pumping Station. This bloom had actually closed up but when opened would have 5 petals. The plant this bloom was on is here too. The photo showing the pinkish spider shaped blooms is a Blue Mistflower wildflower. The actual color to the naked eye is a solid light blue. Other photos I have seen on the internet shows a pinkish color. But this was a small patch of flowers, photo, seen only at this spot by the Pumping Station. .

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bona Dea Update

The past few days have been sunny and unusually warm for this time of year. Also below average for rainfall. Tonight and tomorrow it is suppose to rain. Hope so. The water level is really low all over the creeks and ponds. The birds have been coming back in to the park. Woodpeckers and nuthatches and chickadees and blue jays and boat tailed grackles. Wood ducks also in the creek and water ponds. Aster wildflowers are all over the place right now. The photo showing the many lavender or blue daisy like blooms is called a Common Blue Wood Aster or Heartleaf Aster-Symphyotrichum cordifolium. Pardon the white shoe.The photo showing the green leaves is of this type of plant. The pic with the many white blooms is a bushy Mayweed. This is a variety of Aster.This clump of flowers had all varieties of flies, wasps and bees all over it. I tried to get some photos of the insects but they would not be still long enough to get a good shot except for a Southern Paper Wasp but I have that one in the insect album and most of you have seen them. See links in column to the right of this blog for Bona Dea Wildlife. I did see a really big Northern Flicka woodpecker today. Great Blue Herons are back at the park and one staying in the Waldon Pond area. Mosquitoes were really biting today. I fed the fish at the spillway. New fish pellets and they are larger and the fish don't like them as well. Will have to soak them a little bit first. Also saw some vulcher or buzzard birds flying high over the park. This is the first time in a long time. Also some Cormorants were seen in Lake Dardanelle a few days ago across from the park. The Cooler weather the past few weeks have really brought the people out to the park. Sometimes you cannot find a place to park your vehicle.The other day at the spillway, I saw a really big needle nose soft shell turtle that surfaced for only a little bit. The first one I have seen this year. They used to be seen in the spring quite often. Have had reports that people have seen a really big copperhead snake at the south part of the park on Serpendipity Trail. I have seen it in prior years but have not been able to see one to photo this year. Oh Yeh, I almost forgot. Today at the post office in town, I saw a Woodchuck across the street in a lawyers office back yard. It was just chomping away not far from the street. Strange to see in the middle of town. Stupid me, Forgot to get my camera for a photo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea has been sunny most days recently except the other day when it rained a little bit. We do need some rain around here. Flocks of various birds have been coming through this area. October seems to be the main month for migration heading south for the winter months. Still been feeding the Blue Gill Brim at the spillway but the catfish have disappeared since it has gotten cooler at night. Some Pileated and Downy woodpeckers have been active. Also the late summer and fall wildflowers are coming and going pretty fast. I suppose in anticipation of cold weather. Sorta wish it would hurry up and get here. I must have scared the Gator the last time I saw it as I have not seen it since. But the cooler weather at night may have moved it to its winter quarters away from where I mess with it. I recently saw a pretty male wood duck land right close to the spillway and then saw me and quickly started swimming towards some friends further out in the water as shown by the photo. Also saw a Great Blue Heron wading bird. This photo shows it was in a hole of water where the Alligator usually heads for at night in the summer time. It would make a pretty good supper don't you think. I took this photo of a very pretty bright red cardinal plant close to nightfall. This plant was very tall with some others like it nearby on Beaver Trail. Also on Waldon Way Trail there was a really pretty purple headed Trumpet weed or Joe-Pyed weed plant that I had to photo. Speaking of the spillway. There was a pretty small yellow single flower bloom of a Water Primrose wildflower that was actually growing in amount several tree roots in the very bottom of the dry spillway. These photos shows the bloom closeup and then the entire plant. Also on Waldon Way Trail I saw some Wild Rose Hips growing on the very sharp thorny limbs or stems of the rose plants. The red berry like hips are actually the seed pods for roses. On Swinging Bridge Trail I saw this Asiatic dayflower with the long seed pods. There were more of them in earlier stages on Waldon Way Trail by the Trumpet weed plant. They have very small and bright blue flowers that actually bloom only in the morning and are gone by the afternoon when I usually go to the park. Lazy me, I should go and take some picks of the blooms. Just google Asiatic dayflower and you can see the really pretty blooms.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bona Dea Plants Update

From bottom up: Red Buckeye Bush-Aesculus Pavia-Seed Pod-1-on deer trail across from Spillway-09-16-10. Sideoats Grama-Wild Grass seed pods-Bouteloua curtipendula-by Spillway-09-25-10. Small-flower White Aster-Symphyotrichum racemosum-bloom closeup-on Swinging Bridge Trail-09-25-10. Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly-on left. Red-spotted Purple butterfly-on right-by Big Prairie Creek Bridge-09-05-10. Wild Hydrangea-seed pods-Hydrangea arborea-by Spillway-09-25-10.