Thursday, April 28, 2016

Around the Armory

Birding in Johnson City and Washington county

April 26 we birded a place in Johnson City that I would never have thought to visit. And it is just down the street from where I live. On west Market Street (aka “new” Jonesborough highway) is the empty lot where the Tennessee National Guard Armory stood for years. It has been 10 years since the property was sold off (or traded, we couldn’t remember which) and the building demolished. Now it is a huge empty lot that beckons trash and homeless. The property is surrounded by developed property and the C&O tracks and is up for sale. It is hard to imagine such a large lot still available within city limits.

But, also, at the back of the property is a cemetery dated 1792.

There was plenty of great bird habitat throughout. I didn’t keep really exact records but some of what we saw: robin, flicker, cardinal, starling, dove, red-tailed hawk, bluejay, indigo bunting, field sparrow, towhee, kingbird. We caught glimpses here and there of more and heard a lot bits and pieces but much of the birdlife kept well undercover.

That isn’t much of a record and we did hope to find much more as the habitat of mowed grass, cedar, pine, and scrubby underbrush ought to have yielded more. This might be a place worth visiting more often. Until it gets sold.

We then drove out to Bush Hog on the far side of Jonesborough, Bowmantown Marsh, and West View Ponds near Limestone. Between these two we got shore birds, both oriole, green-winged teal, green heron, the last remaining white-breasted nuthatch, a few swallows, both tanager, red-wing black birds in their glorious spring plumage, and a warbler’s nest but never could get a good look at the parent.

On this particular trip were Roy Knispel, Jim Anderson, Gil Derouen, and myself. 

Do birds sing all night?
I have heard mockingbird singing as late as one o’clock in the morning. I have heard stories of birds (usually mockingbirds) singing well into the dark but not usually long before sunrise. The early bird still seems to be the robin. Last night (or was it this morning?) I stirred and could hear a clear two-noter more like a bluejay calling endlessly, monotonously, forever! It is one of the curses of having the windows open. I couldn’t be so lucky to catch a screech owl. I did hear the raccoons raiding the garbage can next door. I did hear the coyotes yipping around. And, of course, the Clinchfield & Ohio rumbled through the night a couple of times.

But, I kind of like the sound of a bird calling in the night. Nothing terribly romantic or anything like that. it is just a gentle reminder about nature and what nature does.


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