Monday, August 10, 2009

Brown, Oakley and Neal enjoy August 9, 2009, in the Arkansas River valley

Joe Neal reports:
Jacque Brown, David Oakley, and I spent Sunday morning, August 9, in the Arkansas River valley, in the vicinity of the U of A vegetable experiment farm & a private sod farm southeast of Kibler in Crawford County. We saw a Black-bellied Plover still in immaculate nesting plumage, plus a good sprinkling of other migrating shorebirds: Greater Yellowlegs (2), Solitary Sandpiper (6), Spotted (1), Upland (8, including 1 flock of 6), Semipalmated (1+; many peeps), Least (2+), Pectoral Sandpiper (24+); 8-10 Horned Larks and a similar number of Lark Sparrows, both either at the turf farm or alongside sandy roads through bean fields (including yoy [young of the year]), Grasshopper Sparrow (1 adult singing, 2 yoy near, at turf), Painted Bunting (1; yoy), and BIG flocks of Dickcissels in the bean and sorghum fields.

At one point a couple of guys in a flatbed work truck hailed us to a stop. They explained there are vandalism problems in the area, including stealing watermelons. Our bins and floppy hats marked us as potentially weird but probably harmless. It was Sunday morning, after all, and real bad guys would be shacked-up somewhere. They had 5 big melons on the flatbed just picked. After a friendly talk, they gave us directions we needed. In 5 minutes we spotted a watermelon that had rolled off the truck and split open blocking the roadway; there was no putting that one back together again.

We left by noon, because of heat, and because I wanted to get back to Fayetteville and still have a little August energy to see some public art: the Quaker-sponsored exhibit “Eyes wide open” displayed at the Fulbright Peace Fountain on the U of A campus PLUS to make a program marking the anniversary of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at one of the chapels adjacent campus. My dad was on a Navy ship in the Pacific ready for the invasion of Japan when the bombs were dropped. He always credited the bombs with saving his life and, by the way, getting him home soon, resulting in me. “Eyes wide open” features combat boots arranged in symmetric rows for US servicemen from Arkansas killed in more recent wars & civilian shoes in another area honoring dead non-combatants. It was honorable & sobering, even to a devout bird-watcher. My own eyes and head were still wide open to Black-bellied Plovers & sudden materializations of Upland Sandpipers & generally to the timeless wonde
r of massive continental-wide bird movements. Thinking of my dad, birds, all of these war dead, seemed a confluence of modernity, even on campus, as we honored the disparate victims of various species of spectacular orgasmic violence.
Joe Neal,
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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