Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Audubon Arkansas open house coming up December 10, 2010

Audubon Arkansas - Long White
Wishing You Happy Holidays!!!

Please Join Us

Friday, December 10, 2010
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at
34 East Center Street
Fayetteville, Arkansas
For the
Audubon Arkansas
Holiday Open House
The staff and board of Audubon Arkansas invite you to join us for food, refreshments, conversation and conservation. Spouses, children, and friends welcome.
Please RSVP to 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Joe Neal and the loons of Lake Tenkiller

  • fun with loons‏
  • Opening Day for Loon Season in Arkansas caught me unprepared. Loon Opening, often early-to-mid-October, found me with a dusty spotting scope buried deep in the closet. Loons are scope work, but with one quick shirttail wipe and my trusty black Sharpie to X out all previously agreed-to appointments written on my calendar, I was ready to go forth and screw my good right eye to the 30 power eyepiece. For sure I was late for season opening, but fear not! 

Now it’s ALL about cold wind, big water, objects seen and unseen and imagined, near and far, about the possibility that the Far North –or maybe it was early Santa and his reindeer -- has delivered unto us some very cool freight in the form of rare birds.

2 November at Slate Gap on north side of Beaver Lake: 2 Common Loons
11 November at Lost Bridge North and South on Beaver Lake: 5 Common Loons
18 November at Indian Creek on Beaver Lake: 17 Common Loons
20 November at Lake Fayetteville on NWA Audubon Society field trip: 1 Common Loon
22 November at Bob Kidd Lake: 1 Common Loon

For looners, or maybe I should say loonies, in northwestern Arkansas, Tenkiller Lake is a necessary evil of driving and carbon emission. Tenkiller, after all, is one stop shopping for four loon species. Jacque Brown and I made a Saturday pilgrimage, the Day After Black Friday. We got two loon species: at least 65 Common Loons and 3 Pacific Loons. Off and on during the day I was sure we had ‘em all.

For me it’s just axiomatic that with eyeball screwed to eyepiece and brain in loon over-drive, what comes upon me is a vision of almost religious certainty that the pale loon with the big upturned bill is a Yellow-billed. That is, the further away loons are – and they can get VERY far on a big lake-- the more likely I am to turn what’s common into minor miracle. Funny how the closer we get, the more we find the wide range of Common Loon ages and plumages, which is just what you’d expect if the brain’s rational side was engaged. But if it was engaged, why would you even be looking to begin with? Etc.

After all the driving and all the scope work, I’m just plain nutty. Isn’t all this pretty extreme? Edgy? Here it’s Black Friday Weekend, just a day or two before Cyber Monday, and what am I doing? Why, I’m out having fun with loons! They’ve flown a long ways to get here, out of the ice and snow, and I’ve driven long to get away, far away, reasonably and even unreasonably, from Black Friday Weekend, not to mention to upcoming Cyber Monday. 

‘Tis the season, after all, to buy-buy-buy. But all the holiday hubbub ‘mongst the superior species is not evident in a big loon raft. I don’t hear a single Christmas jingle, but loons are yodeling and barking in warm afternoon sun. Myself, I’m thinking new scope, if only in my dreams. I’m wondering if ole Saint Nick has heard about the new enviro-smily HD glass? And way, way out there, near the far shore, isn’t that a Red-throated?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lake Fayetteville site of November 20, 2010, Audubon outing, reports Joe Neal: Outing list for 2011 available on Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society's Web site at link below.

Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society will host a field trip to Lake Fayetteville tomorrow (Saturday) starting 9 AM, with a meet-up in the parking lot on the north end of the dam. Hopefully, the cold front added waterfowl and nice weather will make it comfortable to see them.
> NWAAS has a field trip schedule for 2011. Our webmaster, Richard Stauffacher now has it available on the NWAAS web page. Once you get there look for the 2011 trips toward the bottom of this page: http://www.nwarkaudubon.org/id4.html



All NWAAS field trips are free and open to the public. Membership in NWAAS is not a requirement. We try to make our field trips accessible to everyone, all ages & all abilities. Additional details & updates about trips are sent via email a few weeks before the announced date. We try to have field trips on Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate different schedules. For maps and more information about these places, check the Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society web site

http://www.nwarkaudubon.org/index.html and the section “Places to bird in northwest Arkansas.”

January 22, 2010 (Saturday). Rocky Branch on Beaver Lake and Hobbes State Park-Conservation Area. Meet at 9 AM at Hobbes SP for a caravan down to Rocky Branch (5 miles). We will be looking for all kinds of water birds. We will return to the park by noon (bring your lunch if you are staying). We will bird in the upland shortleaf pines in the area near the park visitor’s center. http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/1439095.pdf

February 19, 2011 (Saturday evening). American Woodcock field trip to Wedington Wildlife Management Area (Ozark NF west of Fayetteville). Field trip led by woodcock expert David Krementz. Meeting time: 5:30 PM at Wedington WMA. http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/977213.pdf

March 26, 2011 (Saturday). Trip to mature shortleaf pine habitat in the Shores Lake area of Ozark National Forest. Leader is Bill Beall, veteran birder from Ft Smith (and now the NWAAS Treasurer). We will be seeking Brown-headed Nuthatches and other birds typical of pine forests. Meet at 9 AM at the Shores Lake picnic area entrance on the west side of the lake. You can show up earlier if you wish! http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/1439038.pdf

April 17, 2011 (Sunday). Woolsey Wet Prairie and Wilson Springs. Meet at 8 AM in the parking area near the front gates of the wastewater treatment plant. http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/1320803.pdf

May 6 & 7, 2011 (Friday and Saturday). Birder’s Weekend at Devil’s Den State Park. The field trip will be on Saturday May 6; meet at Lee Creek bridge parking area in the park at 9 AM. http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/950081.pdf

May 13 & 14, 2011 (Saturday and Sunday). International Migratory Bird Day in Benton and Washington counties, with additional counts in at least Carroll County. Coordinated by Mike Mlodinow for Washington and Benton counties.

June 5, 2011 (Sunday). Cave Mountain and the upper Buffalo River in Newton County. Meet at the Boxley Bridge at 8 AM.

July 10, 2011 (Sunday). Chesney Prairie Natural Area. Meet at Chesney at 8 AM.  http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/957092.pdf

August 13, 2011 (Saturday). Craig State Fish Hatchery at Centerton. Meet in the parking lot at the hatchery at 8 AM. http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/950078.pdf

September 11, 2011 (Sunday). Lake Atalanta in Rogers. Meet at 9 AM in the parking area near the bathrooms. http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/950077.pdf

October 1, 2011 (Saturday). Ninestone Land Trust in Carroll County. Meet at 9 AM at Ninestone. http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/1287399.pdf

November 20, 2011 (Sunday). Lake Fayetteville. Meet at 9 AM in parking lot on the north end of the dam (near ball fields and entrance to the boat dock). http://media.tripod.lycos.com/2020453/957091.pdf

December 2011. Fayetteville Christmas Bird Count. (Date to be announced.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Robinville, by Joe Neal, November 17, 2010


9:00 PM
Reply ▼
joe neal
To ARBIRD list discussion:
Today and for the past few weeks, robins have been our stars for sure. They have so completely occupied Fayetteville that we must change the signs: “Fayetteville, pop. 68,000” to “Robinville, pop. 6 million.” Counting robins in cedar thickets, amur honeysuckle fields, all across the trees and bushes of neighborhoods and parks – I guess it would be like counting stars in the universe. There’s a roost north of Fayetteville; maybe somebody will count them. It could be a career.

Today busy flocks I’ve been seeing and hearing at Lake Fayetteville and along the Scull Creek bike trail had full run of my yard. Robins were vigorously billing aside fall leaves for tasty bits below even in a cool light rain. Robins with swooping flights and sudden twists and turns among limbs and between bushes. Robins in twos in hard tight chases like spring. Flocks overhead in 12s and 20s. Robins in trees, colorful and animated on limbs now bare of leaves.

I’m no musician but that didn’t keep me from trying to compose what I was hearing: bek bek bek bek, gee g g g g geek! Cheery-up cheery-up, wah wah wah, ber ber, che-chet! Robinville is a mobile, seemingly limitless communal soundscape. A fine male perches up close. His is a big dark eye framed by two clean white crescents, set into a black head and an artistic throat of wavy dark and light streaks, like life itself. The “red” breast is fall orange, a harvest orange. I can see his bill opening and closing, so I assume he is singing or I suppose he could be lip synching… Cheery! Cheery! Bick bick bick…

The singing and calling happily obscures College Avenue rush hour in pre-Robinville Fayetteville. But suddenly, silence falls upon the living earth of birds and deadly rush hour resumes it dominance. Why the silence? I’m thinking it’s the little Big Bang. I can see these robins exploding out from a distant spot; maybe not 14 billion light years back as with the big Big Bang, but at least in my neighbor’s yard and out of my sight. Robinville’s Silencer must lurk in the far distant vast thicket, probably Cooper’s Hawk.

But Robinville returns to business-as-usual in 5. Singing and calling, chasing, gobbling down bright red amur honeysuckle berries – that’s the main business today in Robinville.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Cox Cable pulls surprise on city of Fayetteville, Arkansas, with plan to move public-access, government channel and educational channel to EXPENSIVE digital tier of channels: So much for open government when thousands of people will not be able to afford access to the public channels

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of Cox Cable advertisement in recent issue of The Northwest Arkansas Times.
For several years I have been able to turn away phone and online salesmen wanting me to take the satellite systems and later the Uverse TV system of AT&T. But now Cox has set up a situation that will require me to drop their service and take the Uverse, which will automatically cut my cost because I have AT&T phone service already. Cox has one thing the others don't have: The local public stations at minimal cost. This is the time for the city administration to begin negotiating with COX. This is a draconian measure that will hurt COX in the long run.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Joe Neal's November 7, 2010, report from dawn birding to Lake Fayetteville

It’s on the frosty side this morning at Lake Fayetteville. I see coots and a few grebes, and Canada Geese I can’t see. Wind-wise it’s calm, and for Fayetteville-Springdale, quiet. I hear YA HONK YA HONK, punctuated by a deep, booming, resonating base: basso profondo. That voice resonates the whole world, at least the part I can see & hear. I forget how cold my hands are. Basso is the first chair bass goose in a great choir.

Just behind me and all around the Environmental Study Center are robins: 10 acres (maybe more) of caroling, chuckling, and some singing. They’re in honey suckle bushes plucking red berries, chugging down hackberries from up in trees. In bunches of 5-6 and 10, they perch and vocalize away, maybe like me, waiting for sun-up. There is welcome light above the trees by 8:00, and more robins flying in from the blue north in dozens, all silver underneath, reflecting new sun.

Usually I don’t have trouble feeling glad to be alive, but I have my times and don’t we all? This morning there is basso profondo and Turdus migratorius as reminders, if nothing else. But I’m not done.

I heard soft WHO WHOs of a female Great Horned Owl when I first arrived. Now I hear raucous CAWs of 5 excited American Crows, coming from the same area. All the cawing tells me they found ‘em an owl. Little better defines our crows than owl parties. The resulting uproars add charm to the landscape. Mall and freeway may not be far away, but it remains a wild place with an owl and a pack of hyper excited crows.

Beyond geese, robins, and an owl-crow event lay brushy old fields. In the bright fall sunlight, Fox Sparrows sing the morning: sure cheer CHEER WEE WEE cheerEE. Then, from thickets, when I try to move in for a close look, CHOCK CHOCK.

This afternoon there is a memorial for my old friend, Eleanor Johnson, who passed at 99. I knew her for 40 years. Among many good causes she supported was Arkansas Audubon Society. Her motto was, “One person’s problem is every person’s problem.” She walked the walk. I think the singing this morning is for her, and her kind, who notice the world is a complex place, and leave it a little better than they found it.