Sunday, January 14, 2018

Holla Bend

Last weekend, I woke up before dawn and drove through the darkness to the Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Dardanelle. The 6,400 acre refuge along the Arkansas River is home to thousands and thousands of birds, especially during the winter. In fact it's estimated that about 100,000 ducks and geese spend their winters here.

I arrived there just around sunrise, and drove down the dusty dirt roads while on the lookout for birds. They weren't hard to find, there was one field that was home to a massive flock of snow geese. I left the warmth of the car and tried to get a few pictures.


The snow geese were all sitting in the middle of a field, and would all take off without notice with a sound like a car driving by. There was also the loud sound of lots of honking and squeaking from the thousands of birds. The sheer amount of birds filled the sky (it helped that I had a zoom lens).



I was glad to see the birds, since the last time I drove out to Holla Bend (in 2016), I went too late in the season and the birds had already migrated back north.


The Refuge was created in 1957, and is home to all sorts of birds. There are several bald eagles that live here in the winter, although I didn't see while I was there. I did instead see several other photographers out there searching for eagles (who, based on pictures I saw later, had much better luck than I did finding them). While driving around the refuge, I did stop to take a few pictures of some of the massive old trees that were also protected in the refuge.


It had been extremely cold that week, with temperatures dropping well below freezing. The refuge is surrounded by an oxbow lake that was once part of the Arkansas River, and it was covered with a thick layer of ice.


I headed back into the warmth of the car and started the drive home, but made one quick stop at this old house along the way for one last shot.


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