Thursday, November 05, 2015

Sycamore Shoals October Walk

Bryan Stevens of the Herndon Bird Club organizes a series of Saturday bird walks at Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton, Tennessee, during October. I only made the last one (Halloween) this year. It started out a good day although I got a bit chilled for some reason when it wasn’t all that chilly. Still, it is almost November so the weather has to turn soon, which reminds me I still have to finish up one last mowing.

There were seven of us: Bryan, Tom Stettler, Jean and Brookie Potter, Jim Anderson, Roy Knispel, and myself. There is usually a good selection of field birds and water birds but not a lot of waders along the river. There was a rather strange gadwall mixed in with the mallards and we found several wood ducks in color. I don’t recall hearing this fall a white-throated sparrow until now. I should check my feeders for them. A rarity I thought was a lone red-winged black bird this time of year. Of course, spring is only five months off. Christmas is two months away.

It was a good morning’s walk.

Last of the October Tuesday Outings

The seasons have certainly changed since we started in January. But, any given day, the weather turns relatively nice and in company of some nice folks, is a good day to go bird watching. We visited the eastern half of Sullivan county to places like Osceola Island and the Weir Dam, Paddle Creek Pond, Musick’s Campground and Beaver Pond. Some places were better than others, of course, and we had a few surprises!

On this particular crews consisted of Roy Knispel, Reece Jamerson, Gil Derouen, and myself.

We are probably nearing the point where, like during the summer, the migrations are about over and the winter visitors are here for the duration. Partly because of the variety of habitat we also get a good variety of birds. At Paddle Creek we had harrier, waxwing, shoveler, widgeon, and gadwall. At Musick’s Campground on South Holston Lake we had coot, loon, and gulls. These eight make a pretty nice list of birds for one day.

I thought we had a semi-palmated plover. From the back it looks very killdeer-ish and its head was turned as if looking to the side. I could see a stubby bill instead of long bill, although the angle may have foreshortened the bill, and I thought I noticed a lighter-colored, almost pinkish bill instead of a black one. We consulted Rick Knight’s authoritative guide, with its seasonal sightings, only to discover the last, latest sighting on record was ten days ago. Maybe it was just a killdeer after all.

Oh, well, tis the fun and fate of bird watching. We had fun.