The Great Possum Rescue 4/22/2009

Angie and I have been studying Tim Ernst’s Nature Lover’s Guidebook and had decided to visit Goose Lake, south of Brinkley, for the Cypress knees. There’s also a birding trail so we were both happy. We took off after Sam got on the school bus which meant that we did not get to the lake early.

When we did get there, we found it to be under water and then remembered Tim’s warning to call first to check on conditions. We had seen a sign for the Louisiana Purchase State Park on the way and I remembered that Mel White had included it in his Birder’s Guide to Arkansas saying the boardwalk into the swamp was the highlight. So we headed back via that route with the idea (mainly mine) of perhaps also stopping at Dagmar WMA on the way back.

As we passed through the town of Marvell, we saw a single Eurasian Collared-Dove, the first I had seen since the CBC so it was my first FOS of the day.

We arrived at LPSP at about 11. There is not much there besides the boardwalk. As we got out, Angie saw an Opossum in the grass. Her first thought was “dead” but then it moved. Then we realized it was the babies that were moving. Six still suckling, still with their eyes shut, baby marsupials. About 4 inches long, not counting tail, black hair and big ears. Now I know that nature is red in tooth and claw but we knew these guys would be dead by the end of the day and neither of us were happy with the idea of leaving them to their fate. We didn’t want to raise 6 opossums who would think they lived in our house either. So I called Pinnacle Mountain State Park, where I know some people. After hearing the tale, James replied honestly that finding a home for opossums might not be easy but that they would take with my understanding that they might turn out as snake food. Honestly, they have a chance with the people at PMSP and none at LPSP so we gathered them up, put them in the car and then walked the boardwalk.

This boardwalk was a special place and I bet would be great early in the morning although it wouldn’t take long to exhaust it. The boardwalk it reportedly about a thousand feet and I can believe that. We found another FOS, Prothonotary Warbler, plus a bunch of woodpeckers.

Anyway, after the boardwalk we went home, skipping Dagmar. We transferred the opossums to a box and went to PMSP where James did accept them. Thank you, PMSP!

Species seen or heard at Louisiana Purchase State Park:

  • Prothonotary Warbler *
  • Acadian Flycatcher
  • American Coot
  • American Crow
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Common Grackle
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Fish Crow
  • Great Egret
  • Mourning Dove
  • Northern Flicker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-eyed Vireo

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