Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall Count, September 2015

Another fall count in the record books. The forty-sixth consecutive fall count in the upper five counties of east Tennessee.

It was a crummy day. We had rain and coolish weather and still do as I write this as Hurricane Joaquin is entrenched off the east coast.

Reece Jamerson and I tried our best to cover Boone Lake area. I griped all day long and Reece did his best to remind me this was not a contest. It was supposed to be fun and it was in many respects. We had one of two merlin on the count (Old Muddy Creek Road) and two kestrel. I hadn’t seen kestrel since early summer.

But the waterfowl results for us were atrocious. Most people do not know that TVA Boone Lake has been lowered to its lowest levels ever since completion. There is a leak in the earthen part of Boone Dam. We have very little lake and more river than before. The shorelines are now stretched out in many places and of course access to the lake is always limited. The shore brush has grown up over the summer but our access to the lakeside has not moved closer to the shore. It just gets harder to find places where the shore and the road get together enough to have some good birding. We found a couple of spots that we hadn’t tried before and got a bit lucky. We thought getting a couple of cormorant, the merlin, and the kestrel were pretty nice. Not one mallard and few Canada geese. It will interesting to see if the gulls come in this year. They like some of the sand bars out in the middle of the lake near the TVA overlook so they ought to be happy with the lake all that much lowered.

One of the best places for birding as always been then the Boone Lake overlook at the swimming area near the dam. That is closed off as construction work is done on the earthen side which is what you would drive over to get to the overlook.

The waterfowl are still abundant on South Holston and Osceola Island and at Musick’s Campground on the upper end of South Holston Lake.

There were 37 observers in 9 parties and 129 species. The thirty-year average is 129 species. Rick Knight noted the all-time high was in 1993 with 137 species.  I borrowed Rick’s list with the intent to highlight some of the count’s findings, including as he notes, 21 species of warblers:

Canada Goose 1182, Ruffed Grouse 1, Black-cr. Night-Heron 4, Osprey 19, N. Harrier 1, Bald Eagle 8, Sora 4, Spotted Sandpiper 3, Solitary Sandpiper 5, Willet 1, Sanderling 2, Least Sandpiper 1, Am. Woodcock 1, Ring-billed Gull 4, Forster’s Tern 1, Black-billed Cuckoo 1, Pileated Woodpecker 28, Am. Kestrel 24, Merlin 2, Peregrine Falcon 1, N. Rough-wing. Swallow 1, Tree Swallow 231, Cliff Swallow 2, House sparrow 56, Towhee 59, and WARBLERS (21 species):

Ovenbird 2, Worm-eating 1, N. Waterthrush 1, Black-and-white 6, Tennessee 12, Nashville 1, Com.,, Yellowthroat 25, Hooded 4, Am. Redstart 51, Cape May 8, N. Parula 2, Magnolia 24, Bay-br. 8, Blackburnian 7. Chestnut-sd. 7, Black-thr. Blue 2., Palm 54, Pine 2, Yellow-thr. 1, Black-thr. Green 4, Yellow-br. Chat 1


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