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First Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch for Arkansas!

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Old Tuesday 8th May 2012, 17:55   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
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First Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch for Arkansas!

Sunday afternoon I read on the local listserv that a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch had been found at the visitor's center at Mt. Magazine State Park, the first record of this species in Arkansas. It's not often that a potential lifer shows up in my home state, and this one only a 2-hour drive away. I didn't have time to go on Sunday or yesterday, but since it was still being seen yesterday I figured it was worth a shot.

I left early this morning and arrived at Mt. Magazine around 7:30 am, with a thunderstorm looming ominously but so far only thundering and sprinkling. I found the bird within 10 minutes, foraging in the short grass beside the parking lot. Wow, that easy! I sat down on the pavement to watch and photograph the bird. It was busily chomping away at some small yellow asteraceous flowers, eating petals, sepals and all. As I sat quietly it made its way to within 1-2 meters of me... no binoculars needed for this bird!

The rain that soon followed sent me home earlier than I had planned, but the small bit of additional birding was fairly productive- Swainson's Thrushes were singing, a few small flocks of lingering Pine Siskins flew over, many warblers were active and vocal including Blackburnian, Tennessee, Hooded, Blackpoll, and Ovenbird. A stunning male Scarlet Tanager sang from an exposed perch, and the Rufous-crowned Sparrows were conspicuous and singing in their usual haunt- Arkansas' only reliable location for this species, considerably east of its main range.
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