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.