MIKE MLODINOW AND I ARRIVED AT ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH’S CRAIG STATE FISH HATCHERY
IN CENTERTON this morning just as a strong N front was coming in with falling
temperatures and rising wind. Not much shorebird habitat today, because most ponds
are still full of water (and fish). But one small drained pond produced satisfying
views. For the hatchery as a whole: Killdeer (8), Greater Yellowlegs (7), Lesser
Yellowlegs (20), Solitary Sandpiper (1), UPLAND SANDPIPER (1, early-ish; in a
pasture just E of hatchery), Least Sandpiper (1), Baird’s Sandpiper (1), Pectoral
Sandpiper (40), Wilson’s Snipe (24; most in grassy edge of upper reservoir pond). We
had Blue-winged Teal (56) on three small farm ponds south of the hatchery, plus
another 27 at the hatchery. Despite little suitable shorebird habitat except when
ponds are being drained and fish caught for stocking, the hatchery is indispensible.
We can view and study birds closely, often using the car as blind. By comparison,
there were many, many more shorebirds at Frog Bayou WMA during the NWAAS field trip
there March 28, but they were much, much harder to see — all on foot and extremely
difficult to get close enough for satisfying study. Today as always, we could study
that Baird’s Sandpiper as long and as closely as we wished, north wind blocked. In
job performance reviews, I give Craig hatchery and its personnel ***** (5 stars).
Where else are there such opportunities, available to all, including those with
walking impairments or on a day like this, with a strong front blowing?