Date: 6/9/19 7:36 pm
From: Daniel Mason <millipede1977...>
Subject: Birding derby? and kestrels
I meant to report on some kestrels the other week. I'll start with that
as it's likely the most exciting part of this at the moment.

I was at the fish hatchery in Centerton and I heard some commotion that
I thought were kestrels... multiple, and the sounds sure sounded like
young. In case anyone that visits there hasn't searched and noticed, my
suspicions were spot on. Right by the entrance to the property(the drive
in side) there's a tree and in the tree were at least 4 kestrels. I had
a hard time telling who was who up there but I could tell some were
younger than others. It was pretty cool, to me, to see 4 of them all in
one tree. At one point I saw three on one branch together. I assume
they're all still together so you might scan that tree if you're there
any time soon. (another actual bird update at the end of this)

A derby? This is just a vague idea in my head at the moment. I was
birding city lake in Siloam Springs and I was noticing how many people
were fishing. That lake has become more and more popular lately.
Sometimes when I'm  birding(and other times I'm sure) I have imaginary
conversations in my head, thinking about what other people might be
thinking. All these people fishing and doing other things, maybe
wondering what on earth the guy with the binoculars is doing... what's
so interesting about it?
I like to think of birding as being more interesting, exciting, and even
peaceful than fishing. how many fish did you see? How many species of
fish did you catch? How rare were any of them?
So as I was having another one of these conversations with myself(in my
head, not out loud HA) I was thinking about fishing derbies and how
popular such events seem to be. So, I started thinking about the idea of
a birding derby. I think I may talk this over with my daughter some and
brainstorm some ideas. But I wanted to throw out my random thoughts. IF
I ever organize something, I think I'll wait til fall migration rather
than try something in the middle of the summer. I don't think I'll plan
for a completely individual event as there are some people that would
just wipe the floor with everyone else. But a group event at one
location. Several small teams perhaps. Different things to judge on such
as total numbers, species, rarities, and maybe even photography or
something. I can't decide if it's something that would have actual
awards. I'm a poor man(literally) but I'd like to come up with some sort
of event that might actually draw in some people, including people not
so familiar with birding.
Random thoughts so far but I hope to make something out of the idea.
If anyone ever wants to brainstorm some random ideas like this, or
simply bird the Siloam area, AND if I'm free, I'd love the opportunity.

Speaking of city lake(where I'd likely try to hold such an event)
I was there the other day and found around 45 species before some heavy
rain chased me out. I think I spent under a minute getting down to the
boardwalk to scan before heading back to my van. Was watching the radar
on my phone...   It was a good day but my highlight came near the
birding blind. They have mowed a large part of the field but the path
leading up to the blind is growing in a bit. You can't walk up the ramp
into the blind without brushing up against a lot of grass. But, that
grass provided good shelter for a very inexperienced flyer. Landing
about 4 feet from me(literally) in some TALL grass was a common
yellowthroat fledgling. Those yellowthroats are pretty awesome as it is
and I heard, if I remember correctly, at least 3 singing and then a
fledgling or two. I was pretty fascinated with this little creature. It
weakly(or strongly for its age) flew towards the fence and dropped back
down again. It was doing what fledglings do. Anyway, it was exciting for
me.
Another sort of highlight was the number of narrow-mouthed toads that
were singing. It was loud, there were definitely a lot of them. My wife
isn't so fond of the sound but I enjoy amphibians... unless they're a
few feet away and deafening.

I'm not getting out quite as often as I'd like but I'm still watching
from the window when I can't. I've enjoyed watching some woodpeckers
collect a mouth FULL of suet to fly off with. The other day as I
watched, it was only a male downy and male red-bellied that carried the
suet off. The females I saw that day did not. Not sure if that's typical
or not but was an interesting observation.


Daniel Mason


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