Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Sinks

And I don't mean the kind you wash your hands in...

The Sinks is private land with sinkholes that fill with water (all depending on the amount of rainfall), and attracts a wide variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders. I decided to check it out, because Little Blue Herons had been frequently/regularly spotted there, and I still needed them for my life list. (Of course the report of a Roseate Spoonbill definitely didn't hurt matters!) So at 4:45 this morning, I headed out to see what I could find once I got there.

I went straight out I-565, which turns into AL-20. Followed 20 for awhile, until I turned onto Old 20, and then again onto Fennel Road. You follow Fennel Road until it deadends into Sixth, and that's where The Sinks are. (Otherwise known as the Leighton Ponds.)

Just a fair warning, I have no idea if it's fertilizer or what, but the drive out AL-20 smelled something awful. A mix of manure and rotting flesh/dead animal. Do not drive with the windows down, whatever you do!

With that being said...

Holy herons and egrets, Batman!

(If you can guess all of the birds in this photo, I'll bake you some cookies)

Everywhere you looked, Snowy and Great Egrets were taking flight. I'm not exaggerating when I say everywhere. This was nothing like I'd ever seen back in Ohio. And to think, I got excited when I saw around two dozen Great Egrets congregating at Charles Mill Lake!

Of course (as evident in the photo above), there were plenty of Little Blue Herons. I counted 8 adults and two juveniles, but the fog made it difficult to get exact numbers on the birds I saw.

I also got a quick, but not very clear photo of a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron, who I flushed as my van approached.

(Can't say I didn't warn you)

I was simply floored. I just stood there, snapping off photos left and right. Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, a Least Bittern, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Belted Kingfisher, Little Blue Herons, and Killdeer. (Not the entire list, but most of what I shot)

Like this young Snowy Egret in flight:

I almost didn't want to leave, just in case the Spoonbill wanted to make an appearance. However, the fog got even thicker, to the point that anything more than 50 yards out was barely visible. This was around 7:30 in the morning, so I decided to move onto Wheeler Dam.

Damn, Wheeler Dam! And I thought The Sinks was hosting a lot of wading birds! Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, a couple Green Herons, and lots of Black-crowned Night-Herons.

Instead of gulls, Wheeler Dam has herons and egrets! Oh, and Black Vultures by the dozens. Though, you should park there at your own risk. You might come back to this:

(Disclaimer-Not my vehicle)

These Black Vultures weren't afraid of anything... well, except my minivan getting closer than ten feet to them. But it made for awesome shots such as these:

By this point (9:30 A.M.), the humidity and heat were quickly picking up so I decided to call it a day and head home. But not before I spotted this Ouachita Map Turtle taking advantage of the beautiful, warm sunshine:

What a fantastic birding morning! Two lifers: Little Blue Heron and Least Bittern. And enough birds to last a birding lifetime! Can't wait to go back!

Until next time...
Happy birding to all of you!

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