Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vegetable gardens don't need pesticides when birds are plentiful

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of bird watching for prey in Don Hoodenpyle's garden northeast of World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Louisiana Tech professor to discuss the struggle for the solar future Saturday afternoon at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of poster.

Solar Power Struggle
Professor Richard Hutchinson of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston will speak on "The Struggle for the Solar Future" at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
An inquiry into environmental change and the obstacles and opportunities in the path of the renewable energy transition.
Sponsored by OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Quieter Saturday at Lake Fayetteville likely May 2 as bird-watchers gather at 7 a.m.

David Chapman, who will lead this field trip, below provides
additional information about plans for the day. Please note that there
are several ways to shorten the day if you choose, plus we will
shuttle folks back on the one long segment:

DIRECTIONS: For those not familiar with Lake Fayetteville, the park
lies on the east side of Hwy 71B between Fayetteville and Springdale.
The dam is clearly visible from 71B. From Fayetteville turn right
past Locomotion, from Springdale turn left a few hundred yards past
Outback restaurant. We will meet at 7 am in the parking lot on the
north end of the dam, just outside the marina gate (ball fields, dam,
and marina all in this immediate area).

ROUTE: We will first walk the dam birding the spillway area and
Veterans Park. We will return the same way (about 45-60 minutes) and
join any latecomers by the entrance to the boat dock, where cars are
parked. After briefly investigating the pines at the marina
(Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler etc) we will bird the northern
shore in an easterly direction (about 1 mile) to the environmental
study center. Brush up on Empidonax! Yellow-bellied and Alder
Flycatcher have been regularly recorded here (plus numerous warblers,
etc). If anyone has to leave at this point I will take them back to
the car park. For those who wish to continue we will follow the trail
through the woods and bottomland and then do the northern loop through
old field/former prairie habitat (1 mile). The latter is very scenic;
Chat, Painted Bunting, etc. are good possibilities. On return to the
environmental study center I can drive folks back to cars near the
marina lot.

CONDITIONS: Fairly flat, part hard top trail, part track than can get
muddy after overnight rain. Part of this is accessible for those with
walking impairments.

TALLY: a days birding in early May usually results in 80-90 species.

Posted for David Chapman by JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blue-gray Gnat-catchers active at WPWP on April 23, 2009

Please click on images to ENLARGE and please hit comment button below and identify the Polioptila caerulea on World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 23, 2009. Several were spotted flitting about. Thanks to Joe Neal for identifying the bird.

South Dakota Birds and Birding
Devoted to birds, birding, and photography

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Polioptila caerulea
Length: 4.5 inches Wingspan: 6 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Blue-gray upperparts, white underparts, bold white eyering, white outer tail feathers
While still an uncommon sight in most of South Dakota, the range of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher has been steadily expanding throughout the 20th century. Very small birds normally found in woodlands, they can sometimes be difficult to observe as they flit about the tree tops.
Habitat: Varies by region, preferring deciduous forests in the East, pine forests with a deciduous understory in the South, and shrubby habitat in the West.
Diet: Feeds almost exclusively on insects and spiders.
Behavior: Extremely active, foraging actively among trees and shrubs in search of insects. Will take prey while perched, hovering, or by flycatching and catching insects in mid-air.
Nesting: May and June
Breeding Map: Breeding Bird Survey map
Song: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Song
Migration: Summers throughout much of the United States except for the Pacific Northwest and the northern tier of states. Winters in the extreme southern United States and southward.
Similar Species: Similar to the other Gnatcatchers, but these other species (Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, California Gnatcatcher, Black-capped Gnatcatcher) all have normal ranges well to the south of South Dakota and have never been seen in this state.
Status: They have expanded in numbers and in range in the 20th century, an expansion that probably is still continuing.
South Dakota "Hotspot": Most common in the extreme southeastern part of the state, I've had very good luck finding them at both Newton Hills State Park, and the Big Sioux Recreation Area.
Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Blue-gray Gnatcatcher"
3) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Photo Information: July 1st, 2006 - Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Blue-gray Gnatcatcher photos.

South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer breeder in the extreme southeastern part of the state. Casual breeder and visitor in the Black Hills.

Additional Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Photos

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 6 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 7 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8

ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHTED. Click below if you have interest in any of these photos for:
Commercial Use Fine Art Print Personal Usage


Please mail all comments/suggestions/gripes/complaints to: Terry L. Sohl
Click here for other references used to compile this page

Birder's Weekend May 3 at Devil's Den State Park

As part of its annual Birder's Weekend festivities, Devil's Den State
Park hosts guided bird walks during the peak-of-the-peak of spring
migration through the Boston Mountains section of the Ozarks in north
western Arkansas. I'm helping on Sunday morning May 3. There's no
cost. Meet us at the bridge over Lee Creek in the park (plenty of
parking here), at the leisurely hour of 9 AM. There are always lots of
migrants & a fall-out event can be crazy exciting. The walk only lasts
a few hours, but you also have at your disposal the rest of the park &
surrounding Ozark National Forest. The walk will be on both paved
surfaces and trails, so at least part is reasonably accessible to
those with walking impairments. None of it will involve strenuous or
extensive hiking.

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Monday, April 20, 2009

May 2 and May 10 birding outings announced by Joe Neal

Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society will host a field trip to Lake
Fayetteville on Saturday May 2. Meet in the parking lot on the north
end of the dam (the marina is near) at 7 AM. Leaders, David Chapman
and Joe Neal. The focus is on Neotropical migratory songbirds. Because
of many & varied habitats, Lake Fayetteville has proven a wonderful
spot for migrants. Chapman has been conducting bird surveys there for
several years, so participants will be able to tap into his wide
knowledge. Part of the trip will utilize the Two Turtles Trail, which
is accessible for those with walking impairment. We will try to
accomodate those with special needs.

More details will follow soon on the Sunday May 10 NWAAS trip to
Ninestone Land Trust in Carroll County (a good time & place to
celebrate Mother's Day!).

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Joe Neal recommends The Poets Guide to Birds

Here's a "birding" opportunity for folks in the northwest Arkansas
area when you can't be out birding, but are sort of
birding-in-the-mind and want company. The reading & reception are at
Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, at 205 Dickson Street (corner of
Church & Dickson -- old Smokehouse Bldg).

Van Brock and Geoff Brock - The Poets Guide to Birds
Reading, Reception, & Booksigning
Saturday April 25th 6 pm

Van and Geoff Brock will be reading their contributions in The Poets
Guide to the Birds, published by Anhinga Press and edited by Judith
Kitchen and Ted Kooser. After the reading, a reception catered by
Brick House Kitchen will follow.

The painter, Walter Inglis Anderson, once said that birds are the
holes in heaven through which man may pass. Many of us look upon birds
with the kind of awe and wonder Anderson's statement suggests. Here
are poems that might otherwise go unnoticed amidst the dense foliage
of contemporary poetry. --(slightly rephrased from Ted Kooser, U.S.
Poet Laureate 2004-2006)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Brown thrashers may be spotted at World Peace Wetland Prairie during Sunday's Earth Day celebration

Please click on image to Enlarge view of one of the many species of birds feeding and picking nesting sites on World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 17, 2009. The elusive brown thrasher is often able to slip into the thickets before a camera can capture its image. But the attraction of scattered brush piles and the excitement of mating season can make them a bit careless.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Buzzards rest on broken tree on World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 16, 2009

Please click on images to enlarge view of buzzards on World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 16, 2009.
When I spotted these two alighting only 30 feet off the ground, I had to check my own pulse to make sure I wasn't their intended lunch for the day.

Large wading bird eludes camera but mourning dove sits for portrait on April 15, 2009

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of mourning dove on the southeast corner of the Hill Place student-apartment complex being constructed on fill dirt in the former overflow area of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River about 250 feet from the Heritage Trail in south Fayetteville, Arkansas.

I had walked down to the northeast corner of the Hoodenpyle property after getting a call that a large heron or crane had sailed into the Town Branch. The big bird had drifted downstream from where it had alighted and, when I approached, flew out behind the riparian trees without allowing me an open view for a photograph. But the dove sat calmly for a portrait. The still-unidentified elusive large wading bird or a similar one had also been seen by several men standing at the Hill Place entry from Eleventh Street and South Duncan a couple of hours earlier as it flew from the Town Branch westward over the World Peace Wetland Prairie. South Hill Avenue, Eleventh Street and South Duncan Avenue in that area all are a part of the Heritage Trail.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sparrow 40 feet from World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 15, 2009

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of sparrow on April 15, 2009.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Joe Neal's woo woo moment with a Sora rail

woo woo moments with a very cool Sora‏
From: joeneal (
Sent: Tue 4/14/09 9:15 PM
To: ARBIRD discussion list (
Cc: aubrey shepherd (; Bruce Shackleford (; Burnetta Hintertheur (; Doug James (; Jacqueline Froelich (; Joe Woolbright (; Joyce & (jhshed@CENTURYTEL.NET); Margaret Britain (; Mary Bess Mulhollan (; Michelle Viney (; Paige Mulhollan (; Ruth Ann Wisener (; Steve Erwin (; Terry Stanfill (; Christie, Lynn (
I spent part of today birding with Lynn Christie from Little Rock. We
started out in the Vaughn area of Benton County. When we got up there
it looked like most of the 200+ American Golden-Plovers had continued
on their epochal 10,000 mile journey. We did find 6 of the original 9
in a flock of Upland Sandpipers. Just as I began making solemn
pronouncements about gone plovers & their amazing odyssey, and lots of
other miscellaneous stuff I've heard on PBS, here they came, in tight
flocks, making a fine display. Not yet gone, a few thousand miles
still left. I also pronounced 2 B-w Teal on a far pond, that Lynn
noticed were shovelers...

After Vaughn, we headed for Woolsey Wet Prairie at Fayetteville. I was
telling how Joyce Shedell just saw a Sora at the Centerton hatchery
(posted on ARBIRD), so I thought...well maybe we can see one today at
Woolsey. After the yellowlegs, after Wilson's Snipe, after the teal
(both), after avoiding a threatening Canada Goose, after a dramatic
Cooper's stoop on shorebirds, etc etc... a Sora--casually it
seemed--walked out of wet grass, right in front of us. It was so
dramatic I could barely breathe.

OK, Sora is not a rare transient in Arkansas, BUT this Sora appeared &
stopped. Didn't dodge back into cover. Didn't fly up and drop out of
sight. Didn't leave me wondering if it was a Virginia Rail. Remained
in plain sight & in perfect light, and stayed there for eternity. It
knew we wanted it (my friend Joy Fox would call this a woo-woo
moment): red eye, yellow beak, white under cocked tail, dove gray on
sides, rich whites/blacks/browns of wings & back. It turned this way,
then that. We got the whole thing. There's no way to have seen more.
Finally it sauntered into cover. That red eye among leaves of grass.

Now at home, thinking about it, I like Peterson's Sora best, of the
various bird book illustrators, but even with its high artistry,
Peterson looks pretty static compared to the gaudy remarkable beauty
that showed today. These are moments that made me a birder & keep me.
I don't need it every time. Once in a while will keep me under the
spell of a creature among us still.

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Honeybees and all pollinators threatened by pesticides

Please click on images to ENLARGE view in top photo of honeybee on redbud and bumblebee in second photo on redbud in a chemical-free area around World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 8, 2009.

Honeybees in Danger
Sunday 12 April 2009
by: Evaggelos Vallianatos, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
When I was teaching at Humboldt State University in northern California 20 years ago, I invited a beekeeper to talk to my students. He said that each time he took his bees to southern California to pollinate other farmers' crops, he would lose a third of his bees to sprays. In 2009, the loss ranges all the way to 60 percent.
Honeybees have been in terrible straits.
A little history explains this tragedy.
For millennia, honeybees lived in symbiotic relationship with societies all over the world.
The Greeks loved them. In the eighth century BCE, the epic poet Hesiod considered them gifts of the gods to just farmers. And in the fourth century of our era, the Greek mathematician Pappos admired their hexagonal cells, crediting them with "geometrical forethought."\
However, industrialized agriculture is not friendly to honeybees.
In 1974, the US Environmental Protection Agency licensed the nerve gas parathion trapped into nylon bubbles the size of pollen particles.
What makes this microencapsulated formulation more dangerous to bees than the technical material is the very technology of the "time release" microcapsule.\
This acutely toxic insecticide, born of chemical warfare, would be on the surface of the flower for several days. The foraging bee, if alive after its visit to the beautiful white flowers of almonds, for example, laden with invisible spheres of asphyxiating gas, would be bringing back to its home pollen and nectar mixed with parathion.
It is possible that the nectar, which the bee makes into honey, and the pollen, might end up in some food store to be bought and eaten by human beings.
Beekeepers are well aware of what is happening to their bees, including the potential that their honey may not be fit for humans.
Moreover, many beekeepers do not throw away the honey, pollen and wax of colonies destroyed by encapsulated parathion or other poisons. They melt the wax for new combs: And they sell both honey and pollen to the public.
Government "regulators" know about this danger.
An academic expert, Carl Johansen, professor of entomology at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, called the microencapsulated methyl parathion "the most destructive bee poisoning insecticide ever developed."
In 1976, the US Department of Agriculture published a report by one of its former employees, S. E. McGregor, a honeybee expert who documented that about a third of what we eat benefits from honeybee pollination. This includes vegetables, oilseeds and domesticated animals eating bee-pollinated hay.
In 2007, the value of food dependent on honeybees was $15 billion in the United States.
McGregor also pointed out that insect-pollinated legumes collect nitrogen from the air, storing it in their roots and enriching the soil. In addition, insect pollination makes the crops more wholesome and abundant. He advised the farmer he should never forget that "no cultural practice will cause fruit or seed to set if its pollination is neglected."\
In addition, McGregor blamed the chemical industry for seducing the farmers to its potent toxins. He said:
"[P]esticides are like dope drugs. The more they are used the more powerful the next one must be to give satisfaction" and therein develops the spiraling effect, the pesticide treadmill. The chemical salesman, in pressuring the grower to use his product, practically assumes the role of the "dope pusher." Once the victim, the grower, is "hooked," he becomes a steady and an ever-increasing user.
No government agency listened to McGregor.
The result of America's pesticide treadmill is that now, in 2009, honeybees and other pollinators are moving towards extinction.
In October 2006, the US National Research Council warned of the" "demonstrably downward" trends in the populations of pollinators. For the first time since 1922, American farmers are renting imported bees for their crops. They are even buying bees from Australia.
Honeybees, the National Academies report said, pollinate more than 90 crops in America, but have declined by 30 percent in the last 20 years alone. The scientists who wrote the report expressed alarm at the precipitous decline of the pollinators. Unfortunately, this made no difference to EPA, which failed to ban the microencapsulated parathion that is so deadly to honeybees.
Bee experts know that insecticides cause brain damage to the bees, disorienting them, making it often impossible for them to find their way home.
This is a consequence of decades of agribusiness warfare against nature and, in time, honeybees. In addition, beekeepers truck billions of bees all over the country for pollination, depriving them of good food, stressing them enormously, and, very possibly, injuring their health.


Evaggelos Vallianatos, former EPA analyst, is the author of "This Land Is Their Land" and "The Passion of the Greeks.

Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association's green-infrastructure project report online

Green-infrastructure report from Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association project

Friday, April 10, 2009

Earth Day celebration on April 19, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie

Please click on image to ENLARGE to read details of the poster.

Bird-watchers welcome every day from dawn to dusk!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reagan family farm north of Arkansas 16 exemplifies the kind of land that must be protected in the cities of Northwest Arkansas to save Beaver Lake

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of Bill Reagan pointing to the line of trees along the fence on the south edge of his family farm along the north edge of East Fifteenth Street.

The Reagan family has owned the land for many years and Bill said that he has bought it from his mother and will keep it in the family. The farm is prairie that has been used for cattle grazing and other agriculture over the decades. It is an example of a heritage farm of the sort identified in the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association's Green Infrastructure plan. Its rich soil captures water where falls and does not cause flooding downstream with its limited stormwater runoff entering the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River without causing siltation or pollution. See Google map with view of Fifteenth Street area in a preceding post on this subject.
Democrat-Gazette on widening of Arkansas 16

View Larger Map
Please use controls and cursor to move the image, zoom in or out and trace the whole route discussed at the meeting yesterday. The Reagan property is near the middle left part of the image above.
If you use your cursor to travel north of the open Reagan property between Washington Avenue and Wood Avenue from 11th Street up to near 9th Street you can see the 7 wooded wetland acres that the Partners for Better housing board is trying to buy to dredge and fill for a low-income housing development. Water drains from north of Jefferson School, all the way from north of MLK Boulevard (former 6th St.) down to 15th St. and into the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River and is slowed and purified by the moist-soil area where the tiny branch overflows.
This portion of the Beaver Lake watershed is under extreme threat. Thanks to the Reagan family and others for keeping a bit of green infrastructure intact and allowing a small part of the rainwater to stay it falls.