Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lake Fayetteville visit an interesting outing for birders on September 20, 2011

Nancy Harris, Lynn Armstrong, and I birded for a couple of hours  
yesterday near the Lake Fayetteville Environmental Study Center. It  
was too beautiful for good birding: clear blue, upper 50s at 7:15,  
calm. But, improbably, we did see birds. Wilson's Warbler,  
Yellow-throated Vireo, a fresh batch of House Wrens, Yellow-billed  
Cuckoos, and an empid that was maybe Least Flycatcher. Most striking,  
a Common Nighthawk perched sideways on a snaggy bare limb over the  
paved trail.
Bicycles peddle under, swish swish, and never see the bird. Joggers  
pass, none the wiser, and ditto for dog walkers. We've been looking up  
at Northern Parulas, a couple of Nashville Warblers, and a richly  
brown Blue Grosbeak. For us, moving at best an ambling pace -- an  
irritant I suppose to some busy exercisers -- the nighthawk is in  
plain sight, not that high up. The bare dead limb is covered with gray  
and dull green lichens, bits of dark thin bark, all illuminated by  
pure morning light. Huge liquid dark eyes occasionally open, the bird  
is a patchwork of gray and darker tones, light tones mixing with sky,  
and only long dark wing tips offering significant contrast, stobby  
twig simulacrum.
On the way back, we have overflight by a woodpecker with a big white  
wing patch, Red-headed or Ivory-billed.
JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

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