Date: 2/2/18 6:17 am From: Joseph C. Neal <joeneal...> Subject: PRAIRIE MERLIN IN THE VALLEY
An adult male prairie Merlin was working fields near Frog Bayou Wildlife Management Area yesterday. These fields are in vicinity of new acquisitions for Frog WMA along Blackland Road, just east of the intersection with River Road. First thing I saw was a big flock of White-crowned Sparrows, including at least three Harris’s.
The Merlin perched very low, perhaps actually on the ground, in the open fields on south side of Blackland (so not easy to see). I couldn’t tell what the Merlin was chasing. At one point, I heard Lapland Longspurs, but couldn’t see them. At another point a flock of maybe 100 small birds flushed from the field – from the flight, either longspurs or more likely, American Pipits.
Bill and Toka Beall saw a bunch of Northern Harriers along Sharp Chapel Road on January 31, then Short-eared Owls at dusk. Sharp Chapel is just 3-miles southeast of where I saw yesterday’s Merlin. The fields along Blackland Road are also loaded with harriers, so my guess is Blackland may have owls, too.
Blackland Road is notoriously a suck hole after rain, but I was able to drive most of it yesterday without any problem. River Road is still under construction, so best way is to turn on S Main in Dyer and follow it south to intersection with River Road, then onto Blackland.
Finally, I saw Rusty Blackbirds in several places yesterday. A flock of ten or so were working pasture across from Alma Wastewater Treatment Facility. Out in same fields: Canada Geese with a few Cackling Geese. Also saw six Rusties in the forested wetlands along Denman Road, near the work center at Frog.