Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tipton Haynes Historical Site, April 26

There were only three of us. But the morning was bright and clear and the fields at Tipton Haynes were dew-soaked. Just right for birding.

Tipton Haynes Historical Site sits just on the southern edge of Johnson City on south Roan Street. It is not large, maybe 15 acres. There are historical buildings and a cave on the property. It is a nice place to visit and very important in the earliest history of Tennessee. In this part of the world, there are three major places to visit for local history. Jonesborough, the county seat and oldest town in Tennessee; Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton; Tipton Haynes Historical Site. From here all history in Tennessee and for a considerable portion of lower Kentucky and northern Mississippi and Alabama starts.

We didn’t seem much but we liked what we saw.  Notably: song sparrow, titmouse, goldfinch, chimney swifts, brown thrasher, barn swallow, towhee, redwing blackbird, phoebe, catbird.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lucky Day at Winged Deer

One lucky day!

Sometimes when you get outside and look at spring launching itself you get lucky. The sky is blue, the flowers are yellow and red, the trees are purple and bright green, and white. It’s a great time to enjoy the scenery.

I spied two Pileated Woodpeckers in the neighbor’s huge hickory tree. I heard them first then saw the pair as they landed and then one left almost immediately. I have to now think the second, the one that remained, was the female and she had just been mated. She preened and sat on her haunches across a limb. Any other male, of any age, I would have thought, would have perched upright along the trunk as woodpeckers do. Maybe not, of course, but I have seen Pileated woodpeckers every once in a while in the neighborhood. To see two at once was rare.

Her hickory must be 60 feet tall and spreads another 60 feet at the crown. It’s huge and one of these days it will come down with a crash. I had to take down a wild cherry tree that had grown 40-feet tall because it would have easily taken off my neighbor’s porch roof if it fell that direction. Sure did leave a big hole in the sky.

I ventured out to Winged Deer Park, on US 23 north of Johnson City where the highway meets Boone Lake. With last night’s frost I figured the Virginia bluebells were probably pretty well on their last legs (stems?). Actually, they were about finished blooming on schedule and I won’t be surprised if within a week they are gone. Took a handful of pictures. Some might eventually get posted here.

On the walk back to the playground parking lot I caught my first sighting of the year of our resident Osprey. He was patrolling the lake from the bridge down stream to the next curve in the river and back. I tried to take a picture and got one of him high in the tree top. He wheeled and looped and hovered and then would cruise, turn around and come back. Against this morning’s bright blue sky he was very pretty.

But, it got better. I had binoculars out by now looking for the Osprey but he’d disappeared. On a chance glance I saw the Bald eagle that nests across the lake from the playground hit the wing. I’d seen them before but only for a moment as they dove off the nest away from my vantage point and disappeared behind the tree line. This time he stayed up and his white head and tail stood out against his brown body and the blue sky.

I felt like I’d hit for the cycle.