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Posts Tagged ‘nw arkansas’

There are many quail in the valley this year ! This is a huge comeback from last spring/summer – when I rarely saw one and heard only a few all summer. This year, they started calling around April 20th; seems all day every day. So happy to hear them and I see them almost daily too. I do see several every week.

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On my Bluebird Trail, I have 6 house; 3 occupied, five hatchlings each. I believe they are about 4-5 days from fledging. The male and female are making hourly flights at 4-5 minute intervals; then a pause for 20-30 minutes; then feed again for an hour. also, it is early enough in the spring for a 2nd brood; they will likely change houses. Carolina Chickadees used 2 of the 6 houses too.

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Possibly 0.10 to 0.25 ice accumulation, depends on the 32 degree line. The ground is very cold after a week of lows -1 to 12 and highs in the 30’s:

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My guess is they have not gone any further south yet, this year. We have many days of very cold weather coming later this week (low 5-10F and highs 25F), so they may need to move on. They are shaped much like Bluebirds (also Thrushes). The bluebirds spend every winter here in the Boston Mountains. Included is a Bluebird picture from yesterday near a canebrake.

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IMG_4180 for comparison:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I took these photos about 20 minutes ago. An Eastern Bluebird and a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, and finally, a first summer Bluebird, as portraits using a Canon 7D and a Canon EF300L IS 2.8:

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After a disastrous 2013, where I spotted maybe 3-4 Monarchs, 2014 is looking up, During the past week, I have seen about 50-75 each morning cruising Southwestward towards Mexico. Yesterday morning I saw over 100; simply cruising in that same direction. Today there are 7 on one butterfly bush (non-native) on a stop over. With several more days of nice weather forecast here; these appears to be a GOOD year for them. I’ll never forget 2012, when I had about 1,000 on a snakeroot patch behind my home. I took a short video of one that was on the bush with 6 others at 4:05 PM this afternoon taken with a handheld Canon G15:

 

 

 

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I had been watching the storms in Missouri on radar all day. Starting at 2 PM they made a right turn into NW Arkansas; by 3:15 we had a Severe Thunderstorm Warning here in Newton County Arkansas. The skies darkened quickly and by 3:40 it was like night time here. I grabbed my Canon G15 point and shoot camera. Much of the leading dark clouds had already passed. I took photos to the west and southwest from my front yard. At 3:50 we had 2 Tornado warnings in Newton County; one just NE and one just due E of me. Fortunately, we did not get the worst weather. I don’t think the skies were quite as dark and the photos reveal but very close. I believe the light sky in the SW closed the aperture of the G15 down a bit:

 

Looking West

Looking West

Looking Southwest

Looking Southwest

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A week ago I drove out Parker’s Ridge, south of Deer, Arkansas. After 15 miles of rugged gravel road with tight turns in large Shortleaf Pine forests; I reached the end of Parker’s Ridge and began a 3 miles, 1,600 foot (elevation fall) downhill ride in low gear to the river. The switchbacks began on this rugged road; 27 in all – with a 300 to 600 drop to my right (west). Bluffs bean to appear on my left side (East) and the road narrowed for the last 1.5 miles and became very steep and wet in places, and dangerous. But I m,are it to the bottom and was rewarded with a bridge crossing the beautiful Piney River. I did not see another vehicle or person; only about 20 deer. I fully expected to see a bear or two, but did not.

 

Downhill to the Piney River

Downhill to the Piney River

 

 

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I took these on Friday, one week ago, along Murray Road with a Canon 7D and a Canon EF400L Lens. The Male looks a little beaten up and the fmale is beautiful.I only get to see these wonderful birds in the very early spring while they migrate north to their breeding grounds:

Male (first), then Female (second) Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

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From Cornell Labs:

On a walk through the forest you might spot rows of shallow holes in tree bark. In the East, this is the work of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, an enterprising woodpecker that laps up the leaking sap and any trapped insects with its specialized, brush-tipped tongue. Attired sharply in barred black-and-white, with a red cap and (in males) throat, they sit still on tree trunks for long intervals while feeding. To find one, listen for their loud mewing calls or stuttered drumming.

Cool Facts

  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes two kinds of holes in trees to harvest sap. Round holes extend deep in the tree and are not enlarged. The sapsucker inserts its bill into the hole to probe for sap. Rectangular holes are shallower, and must be maintained continually for the sap to flow. The sapsucker licks the sap from these holes, and eats the cambium of the tree too. New holes usually are made in a line with old holes, or in a new line above the old.
  • The sapwells made by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers attract hummingbirds, which also feed off the sap flowing from the tree. In some parts of Canada, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds rely so much on sapwells that they time their spring migration with the arrival of sapsuckers. Other birds as well as bats and porcupines also visit sapsucker sapwells.
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been found drilling sapwells in more than 1,000 species of trees and woody plants, though they have a strong preference for birches and maples.
  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker frequently uses human-produced materials to help in its territorial drumming. Street signs and metal chimney flashing amplify the irregular tapping of a territorial sapsucker. The sapsucker seems to suffer no ill effects of whacking its bill on metal, and a bird will return to a favorite sign day after day to pound out its Morse code-like message.
  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker in eastern North America that is completely migratory. Although a few individuals remain throughout much of the winter in the southern part of the breeding range, most head farther south, going as far south as Panama. Females tend to migrate farther south than do males.
  • The oldest known Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was 7 years, 9 months old. It was banded in New Jersey and found 6 years later in South Carolina.

In spring and summer, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers favor young forests and edge habitat, especially areas regenerating from timber harvesting. There they find lots of fast-growing trees ripe for sapwells (and since they can spend half their time or more tending to or feeding from their sapwells, sapsuckers needs lots of trees for tapping). So unlike most woodpecker species, sapsuckers don’t rely on dead trees for feeding, although they do search for trees with decayed heartwood or dead limbs for their cavity nests. On their wintering grounds, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers aren’t as selective in habitat, as they’re found from bottomland hardwood forests to as high as 10,000 feet, though never in pure conifer stands. In winter, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers can be found in forests of hickory or pines and oaks.

 

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Other then a brief thundershower on the 15th (got 0.09 inches) its been quiet here in the mountains; the in night the insects have really started screaming afterr dark. I hope we get some forcasted rain this Sunday because we are starting into another drought here in NW Arkansas. There has been a burn ban on for 3 weeks now. The thistle is just about done blooming but I did get a phopto of two Fritillaries on the last thistle heads:

 

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