Date: 11/6/20 3:00 pm From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...> Subject: W. GREBE, SURF SCOTER (BEAVER LAKE)
Flip Putthoff is Outdoors editor for Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. This morning we were “all aboard” his fishing boat for a tour of the big open waters area on Beaver Lake. We launched at Rocky Branch and made a leisurely 10-mile loop across the lake to Lost Bridge, including both down and uplake. Warm and calm, with flat water conditions just perfect for birding.
I met Flip for the boat trip at 8 AM, but spent the hour before on shore with spotting scope. No boats on the lake and the water was like glass. Not far out: a long string of Common Loons, with yodels. Behind them, a mixed-species flock of ducks, that included a migrant we see infrequently: Surf Scoter. Then up came first boat of the morning. We never saw any of these birds again.
We made one stop in deep water over the old White River channel, with tall bluffs rising, and crowned by flaming Sugar Maples. Calm lake water on fire with colors.
Across the lake, just out from Slate Gap Road, we encountered a strung-out flock of Horned Grebes, foraging in the shallows. I kept trying to count and finally got to 325, then found more further on. Among them, another grebe, twice their size: Western Grebe. It was calm enough that I collected some decent imagines, even from a boat.
I was surprised later at home to see the dark cap did not cover the red eye. It aroused potential for Clark’s Grebe. One of the great things about our birding community is willingness to weigh in on something like this. I emailed photos to Vivek Govind Kumar, David Oakley, Charles Mills, and Kenny Nichols. Consensus is that this type winter plumage is not disagnostic for Clark’s, but a yellow bill, as on my bird, means likely Western. Thanks to all of you for taking time from busy schedules to sort one yet another Arkansas bird.
My eBird submission includes photos of the Western Grebe: https://ebird.org/checklist/S75912165<https://nam11.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Febird.org%2Fchecklist%2FS75912165&data=04%7C01%7C%7C64c9a4113f7f4b7830fd08d882a7bf17%7C79c742c4e61c4fa5be89a3cb566a80d1%7C0%7C0%7C637403004263794144%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=xkd7dXljYGfYxFhGoauBchEaCm1CTWtEvzxMCv%2BuoyA%3D&reserved=0>.