Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring-ier by the day

I was fortunate enough to make two short birding trips this last weekend. On Saturday evening one of my friends and I drove up to Wilbur Lake (search for Wilbur Lake Tennessee in google maps) which is between Elizabethton, Tenn., and Watauga Lake. It's a smallish lake, very narrow, waist-deep on the half nearest the road but very, very deep on the far side so it attracts both dabbler and diver ducks. Year-around Wilbur gets Canada geese, Mallard and Wood duck. 

But, Wilbur is a good place to bird watch for winter birds and Bald eagle. Good fishing, apparently, too. You are off the beaten track and up a little higher than Johnson City so if you lucky you can get Raven, too, and if you're really on the good list, like I say, Bald eagle. The eagle roost, I'm guessing, at the end of Watauga Lake and cruise down Watauga, down Wilbur, down the river near to Elizabethton and back.

We had Redheads and I thought a Canvasback which is a hard call for me because in the dim light the white of the Canvasback is not all that distinguishable from the light backs of the Redheads.

Sunday, I and another friend, visited Osceola Island, just down stream from South Holston Dam. (Search in google maps for "South Holston Dam Tennessee.") But, we arrived just after lunch and the birding was pretty much dead. Kingfisher, a few Bufflehead, one lone Mallard! It was a pretty day, though for a walk around the island. There are trails and picnic areas. Just at the downstream end of the island is fly-fisherman heaven. 

While you're there, go across the road from the parking lot towards the wetland area (marked by a sign) and check out the ponds for frogs. Then keep walking maybe 25 yards into a patch of (either) bamboo or river cane, so large, you can't hike through it. I always wonder what it must have been like for the GIs in Viet Nam to fight through this stuff.

Spring is about upon us. Equinox approaches and we can expect more flowers and more birds (first Common Grackle of the season just today) and a reported butterfly already. We had rain and thunder which seems to signal the end of the winter season.

But, don't count the snows done yet.