Fine feather cruise

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Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebe (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebe (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebe (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebe (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebe (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

Bird counting

Among the birds Joe Neal noted on his list were Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes (one), Mallards, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles (two adults, one sub-adult) and a hawk with sharp hairs.

Source: staff report

When the weather cools, bird watchers bundle up in coats, gloves and life jackets for a feather show that takes place each fall at Beaver Lake.

Fall migration sees all kinds of birds on the wing and on the water in the 31,000 acre reservoir from late August through December. Early migrants, like the blue-winged teal, strafe the surface of the lake, flying fast and low. Mallards, American ducks and other ducks follow, said Joe Neal of Fayetteville, who has written several books and hundreds of articles on birds. He guides field trips for the Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society.

“Then when that first big cold front comes in October, when you close the windows and turn on the heat, that’s when we see the first loons and the large flocks of geese flying overhead. heads, ”Neal added. “Since it’s colder, you get more birds from the north.”

Neal and Vivek Govind Kumar have compiled a long list of bird species seen on a boat trip Nov. 5 in the Rocky Branch area of ​​Beaver Lake. Not a single ripple disturbed the still, soft water on the soft, sunny autumn morning. The cliffs by the lake were ablaze with fall colors.

A bluff half a mile east of Rocky Branch Park is a fall favorite for Neal. Dozens of maples spread along the limestone cliff to make it one of the most beautiful in the lake.

With such spectacular views, Neal almost forgot that birds were at the center of this expedition.

The two, along with their boat driver, made a slow two-hour circle north of the park and about 100 acres of Shaddox Island. The region is the widest part of Beaver Lake. The South Rim of Rocky Branch Park is 3 km to the North Rim.

The reflections of the birds on the reflecting pool were dazzling. Large and small flocks of grebes – little duck-like birds – were scattered here and there.

Most were Horned Grebes. Neal noted that Beaver Lake could be called the Horned Grebe Capital of Arkansas. Bird counts revealed more Horned Grebes on Beaver Lake, mainly on this widest part of the reservoir, than on any lake in Arkansas.

Govind Kumar counted 314 Horned Grebes in a herd northwest of Rocky Branch Park. “We counted to 500 in the spring, but 314 is a high number for this time of year,” Neal said.

Why so many horned grebes there?

The water is shallow to moderately deep, Neal explained. There is obviously a good population of their favorite foods such as crayfish, insects, spiders, and fish.

Both bird watchers had high hopes of sighting loons, but Beaver has maintained its reputation as No Loons Lake, as Neal calls it. Loons are seen on Beaver Lake, but not in large numbers. Tenkiller Lake in northeast Oklahoma may be the loons capital of the region. Neal sees a lot when he goes bird watching there.

Fall migration takes place as the birds meet their needs. This is why some species migrate early, others late.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » 

Horned Grebes swim on November 5, 2021 near Rocky Branch Park on Beaver Lake. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / Flip Putthoff)

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