Sunday, May 16, 2010
Holla Bend NWR (Mosquitoes & Mississippi Kites)
Today the central Illinois birder is still in Arkansas, so Greenturtle and I went to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge outside of Dardanelle. I had run across it described as a birding hot spot on the Internet, and although its chief claim to fame seems to be wintering waterfowl, since I'm in the area anyway, why not check it out?
The refuge is quite large -- a ten mile drive around, with an observation tower and several short hiking trails along the way. I had imagined it would be a very watery place, what with all the waterfowl that winter there, and there is water, especially with all the rain that's been happening, although I wouldn't really describe it as swampy. Mosquitoes love it there. Our trail-walking was cut short by the blood-sucking hordes, which Greenturtle thought was as bad as those in Monticello, IL (see previous post), although I reassured him that our sufferings were nothing compared to those of Sunwiggy and myself at the Aransas NWR in Texas.
Despite the mosquitoes, Holla Bend lived up to its birdy reputation. Due to laziness, we weren't there early in the morning -- it was more like mid-morning when we arrived -- and there was still a lot going on. I saw trumpeter swans, more scissor-tailed flycatchers, a northern bobwhite (also heard the call), three great-crested flycatchers, white-eyed vireos (quite proud of Self, confirmed sighting of confusing vireos flitting around the trees by remembering song long enough to look it up on All About Birds when I got back), and lots of dickcissels in the fields. Best sighting of all: A PAIR OF MISSISSIPPI KITES, such lovely birds swooping and soaring over the fields.
Greenturtle, by the way, is turning into something of a birder himself, although he acted offended by the very suggestion. It's not only that he's starting to identify birds himself, and recognize their songs (almost keeled over when he said he just heard a meadowlark), but it's like he's starting to actually WANT to see the birds. Although, when Mississippi kites are in the vicinity, who wouldn't want to see them?