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.