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Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas

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2014 Arkansas Wildlife Fall Events Calendar - 10/03/14



Wildflowers

There are a few wildflowers hanging around until the first frost. Morning glories, asters, phlox and morning glories are here and there.

Elk Rut is in full gear 

Elk viewing is just great. The rut is in the sweet spot now. New bulls are arriving all the time, and there are many reports of bull fights. After the rut most cow elk and bull elk segregate into all-male and all-female herds. That said, there are often big bulls that continue with herds of cow elk nearly until the new year.

The antler drop is not until about April 1. Until then, bull elk fans will enjoy viewing herds composed entirely of bulls. These are trophy pictures if you can get them. Basically the only opportunity is between the end of the rut, and around April 1. These can be amazing photos. 

Check out what I call the "Bucket List". These are sample pictures of elk in circumstances you might see. They include some pretty rare pictures of elk, all of them taken from the road in Boxley Valley. They cover all the seasons.

For reliable viewing, daybreak to 9AM is the best, the earlier the better, on cold days elk hang around all day but I would not depend on it. Late fall and winter are the seasons of all day viewing, but the all bull herds generally disappear when the sunlight becomes intense. Perhaps it is because they have much bigger bodies, but honestly this is only a speculation. On rainy days they could stay out longer. Elk don't like sunlight.

4 years ago I started a map with dates where elk herds were located. This is served on this site as well as my blogger blog. For those of you with mobile phones this means that you can view the map on your phones. Blogger will automatically serve the content in mobile form. There are limitations in Blogger that I cannot overcome easily. I am working on a mobile site that I am building from the ground up.

Whitetail Deer
I am seeing many large whitetail bucks now.  It is not uncommon to see whitetails along the river and crossing the river. It is probably true that we now have a few too many deer now, especially where I live in Erbie.

Trumpeter Swans
The mill pond is down to 1 trumpeter swan. I think some were lost due to predation and perhaps one or two migrated. This is still a
pretty good picture if you can catch the bird taking off or landing.

Tip: If you see the trumpeters start bobbing their heads and honking occasionally, they are getting ready to fly. Focus and wait and you will see a takeoff, and wait longer and they will return after a loop in the valley. These are great pictures and challenging to take.

Bald Eagles and Other Birds
Each November bald eagles migrate from the north to our area. There are concentrations of them around the chicken houses in adjacent counties. Bald eagles hunt over a large area, 50 miles or more so Boxley Valley gets its share of visits. From November to early February expect to see more bald eagles around Boxley Valley. The best bet for watchers and photographers is the Boxley Mill Pond. Often they can be seen in the trees and snags around the pond.

I have had some success photographing small bird species at and around the Boxley Valley Mill pond. The mill pond offers an exceptional range of habitat compressed in a small area. It is home to many species of birds. I like to get pictures of birds in flight. I it is cool to catch them reflected in the water while in flight. Some of these qualify as trophy shots, quite difficult to get. The key is patience and gumption -- you will miss a lot of pictures. The banks of river and the tributary creeks are also hot spots. Hiking these areas in low water will really pay off with some great shots.

River Otter
2014 has been the year of river otter at the Ponca Low Water bridge. There are 2 families of 4 often frequenting the pools just downstream and to the left of the low water bridge. They are fun to see and photograph. They are not afraid of humans and often will pause to look at you. Around 10AM is the most reliable time to see them.  Watch for ripples and weed movements to ID them.

Ticks, Chiggers, and Snakes

Even now make sure you check for ticks after a hike, especially if you are bushwhacking. There are always warm spots where ticks might make it through the winter, especially the mild winter we had this year.

If you hike the rivers and creeks watch your feet. There are sunning snakes as warmer weather emerges. Remember that the best antidote for a snake bite is your car. If bit, go to the nearest hospital. Around here that will likely be Harrison. The hospital is just north of the downtown square on the main drag.

Tick borne disease transmits after about 48 hours if a tick is not removed. Take this seriously.
To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause within our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace.

Terry Tempest Williams
Solitary Sandpiper, on the Buffalo National River
Wading bird, Buffalo National River
Bull Elk "Bubba Stud" Herds Harem in Crossing
Bubba Stud and Harem Crossing Buffalo
Trumpeter Swan Landing in Boxley Mill Pond
Trumpter Touchdown
River Otter at Buffalo National River
River Otter at Ponca Low Water Bridge