Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eagles on South Holston Lake, October 24.

There are times when we are out birding that we get to see some activity of nature that probably most of the rest of the world will only see on television or YouTube. We’ve been lucky enough to see prey birds attack, fishing birds dive, huge flocks on migrants, the occasional very rare loners. For example, there are lingering reports of a Brown pelican still at Fort Patrick Henry Lake, in Kingsport.

We were up in the watery part of Sullivan County, Tenn., up against the Virginia state line and Holston Lake, searching for early-arriving winter ducks. They had been sighted (bufflehead, widgeon come to mind) but our usual luck held and we missed them. We covered from the TVA swimming area on Mingus Road to Davis Dock and the Weir Dam and Musick’s Campground with limited success. (I’ve appended Roy Knispel’s report of the day below.)

What we saw, though, not in numbers but in activity and rarity, were eight Bald eagles at play, diving, swooping, carousing, out over South Holston Lake. None of us had seen such a thing around here. Eight eagles in one sighting is probably more eagle than I see in a year. Sadly, they dispersed but regrouped in smaller groups way too far out to catch with a camera. I think we were too stunned to remember to take a picture.

On top of that, it helped that the weather was clear and calm, slightly on the warm side. That meant we could stay and watch a second time. We have been blown off the overlook at Holston Dam and at Musick’s Campground before. This display was a “Nature” or “Wild Kingdom” moment. I suppose a person could return to the dam once a week for the rest of their lives and not be so lucky again.

(Gil Derouen, Jim Anderson, Debi Campbell, Charles Moore, and I birded some water areas in Sullivan Cty yesterday (10-24). We observed a great display by 8 Bald Eagles (2 adults and 6 younger birds) flying around and interacting where we viewed them from near the crane at the S. Holston Lake Dam overlook.  We also saw one Bald Eagle at the Hwy 421 bridge boat launch and one Bald Eagle coming down the river at the Weir Dam.

Additional sightings for the day include:
Wild Turkeys---8 on Sugar Hollow Rd. and 4 in the Davis Dock area
also at Davis Dock
D. C. Cormorant                  9
Osprey                                1
Coot                                   1
Boone Lake Overlook:
Pied-billed Grebe                1
Musick's Campground                 
Common Loon                    1
Rooty Branch beaver pond
Wood Duck                         10
Weir Dam:
Am. Wigeon                       10
Blue-winged Teal                 8
Paddle Creek:
Am Kestrel                         1
Coot                                   1
Middlebrook Lake:
Wood Duck                         3
Coot                                   2
We also had Red-tailed Hawks at Musick's, Big Springs Rd., and Paddle Creek and 14 Great Blue Herons--at least one at almost every place we checked.)


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