Weekend Birding 2/6/2010 and 2/7/2010

I was thinking about where to go birding, Pine Bluff for Eared Grebes or Lake Dardanelle for a trifecta of uncommon birds when I heard about a Western Tanager reported in Little Rock off Mississippi Road.

Sam and I joined some birders Saturday morning to walked the residential area but had no luck. Later however, I got a call that it had been seen at the Holy Trinity Church and we took off again. This time we found the very accommodating bird as it was being watched by a dozen birders.  State bird for me, life bird for Sam.

Sunday morning we went to Lake Dardanelle for that trifecta of Glaucous Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Surf Scoter.  Within 5 minutes we had the Glaucous Gull but another 70 minutes of scanning the lake failed to turn up the other two birds. At least the one gull was a life bird for Sam.

Finally it was Sunday afternoon and I wanted one more outing before starting a work week so I headed out to Lake Maumelle.  Nada at Loon Point but at the Hundley Bridge Causeway I could see some gulls including one pale bird about midway across the lake.  I knew this bird was unusual, it was as large as a nearby Common Loon but paler. The bill was light colored and there was a noticeable white patch around the eye.  He looked like a winter plumage Yellow-billed Loon but I knew that that had been seen in Arkansas only once before in 1991.  I knew I didn’t have enough data to claim it was one of those.  I took some poor pictures.  Once I posted my pictures and description to ARBird, I got responses from three respected birder speculating that it was a YBLO. That night 8 inches of snow hit and it was Tuesday before I could get back out.  No luck on Tuesday but on Wednesday, Kenny Nichols got out there and confirmed that he was a YBLO.  Sam and I got back out there that afternoon and was able to pick the bird back up so. This time he was even further away and so I didn’t even get poor pictures.  I hope to spend more time this weekend to get better pictures.
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