Thursday, October 6, 2011

Joe Neal on the paradox of disturbed and permanently flooded land providing bird-watching opportunity

Beaver Lake is one of the more beautiful settings in northwest
Arkansas. Extensive open water is one of the best places to find
winter waterfowl like loons, goldeneyes, and Bonaparte's Gulls. But I
feel paradox when I come here. Beaver was formed by drowning the
stunning, high bluff-lined valley of the upper White River. I was
thinking about all of this yesterday, at Prairie Creek, on Beaver east
of Rogers, when Joan Reynolds and I spotted a mature Bald Eagle near
the marina, plus a Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, and
several Yellow-rumped Warblers in the picnic area. An immaculate
Osprey perched in a snag near the highway 12 boat launch.

Further east, towards Hobbes State Park-Conservation Area, we turned
down Key Road for good looks at Pine Warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo,
and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. At the end of Key Road is Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission's Beaver Lake Nursery Pond, constructed in a
picturesque bend overlooking the lake. Near the gate we saw Nashville
Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, and a Yellow-throated Vireo that was
tearing apart a huge green caterpillar, juice flying. The pond has a
dramatic view of open water, bluffs, and sky. About 20 bird boxes line
a circular drive. Several years ago Joan was down here and noticed
that Tree Swallows were nesting in the boxes. Biologist Ron Moore from
Arkansas Game and Fish and his tech Jacob drove up. He said he would
welcome an established, appropriate group that wanted to monitor and
maintain the boxes. As far as I know, this potentially makes the
nursery pond our best place for nesting Tree Swallows.

At Rocky Branch, an adult Bald Eagle was perched in a snag way, way
across one of the widest part of Beaver, white head distinct against a
greenish blue background. Five birds flew across and far away. They
were unidentified duck species until two Wood Ducks flew much closer,
jogging my memory. For me it is an eco-sin to drown a river, and
probably to drive 60 miles to see an eagle, but today there is much
public land here because of the lake, whereas there would have been
very little without the lake. As a birding exploration unfolds, I save
my paradox sorting for a different day.

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

No comments:

Post a Comment