Date: 7/9/18 6:46 am From: Joseph C. Neal <joeneal...> Subject: SWAINSONâ€™S HAWK FOR CHESNEY FIELD TRIP
We had a list of hopefuls for this morning’s Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society field trip to Chesney Prairie Natural Area. Example: Alyssa DeRubeis reported Swainson’s Hawk at Chesney for June 28. The one we saw this morning was in about the same spot: east side of the property, over adjacent fields. Several of us got distant views as the bird soared low, hovered, and perched on some posts near where hay was being mowed.
Other birds on the list for this morning included Dickcissel, Blue Grosbeak, Northern Bobwhite (calling from 3 or 4 locations, but not seen), Loggerhead Shrike, Painted Bunting, and Orchard Oriole. We got all of these, but did not see any Red-headed Woodpeckers.
You really have to want to go on a field trip to walk through an open field in early July. Two of the targets for that walk were outstanding residents of Tallgrass Prairies: Blazing Stars and Rattlesnake Master. We got them both, plus quite a few other flowers. Butterflies, bees, wasps, beetles, etc were abundant around the Blazing Stars. To gauge the ecological cost of so much prairie lost, a person really needs to see the interaction of the native flowers and native pollinators.
The four Great-tailed Grackles that flew over were unexpected bonus birds.
At the end of the field trip, several drove around by the mowed field and saw the Swainson’s Hawk on the ground, in the fresh cut hay. I posted a really poor flight picture on facebook.
Eagle Watch Nature Trail is just 10 minutes away. We may have seen the Neotropic Cormorant perched with Double-crested Cormorants, but it was a long ways off. We had better looks at Great Egrets, Green Herons, and some Wood Ducks – an adult female with 4-5 young. The ducks were paddling under overhanging Buttonbushes and actively catching something associated with the lower leaves.
Our next NWAAS field trip is to Eagle Watch, on Saturday August 4, starting 9 am. If the Wood Ducks are still around, maybe we can figure that out.