[Bristol-Birds] Black-crowned Night-Heron at Middlebrook (scratch your head) ?

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2009 22:03:32 -0400

Middlebrook Lake
Bristol, TN
Sullivan County
26 June 2009

Is an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron, I found today
at Middlebrook Lake, the beginning of fall migration
or something otherwise overlooked ?

On 2 June of this year, I watched a Great Blue Heron
feeding in Smith Creek just past Caney Valley and a
little east of Craig's Mill (1.5 mi. SE of the North Fork
Holston River) in Washington Co., VA.  I wondered
then whether this is an unmated bird simply hanging
out there or one from a nearby nest or even an early
migrant headed "north."

Since then, it has been observed that Great Blue Herons
are fairly evenly distributed throughout the region.  Had
two at Middlebrook Lake yesterday and three at 
South Holston Dam.  Saw one, 21 June, at Seven Mile
Ford along the Middle Fork Holston River in Smyth Co.

Night-herons nest a bit later than Great Blues but the
bigger heron is probably well on its way wandering north
in vagrant migration throughout our region.

I particularly enjoyed Michael Sledjeski's and Leslie Gibbens'
report of 14 June for Bird Island on Cherokee Lake in
Hamblen County.  They gave a "Partial list of individuals 
and occupied nests:"

Double-crested cormorant (500+, 100+ nests)
Great blue heron (160, 50  nests)
Great egret (12 adults, 10 nestlings, 5 nests)
Black-crowned night-heron (65, 12 nests)

Barn Swallows arrive back here to NET in the spring earlier
than the Cliff Swallows and probably get their nesting
underway somewhat earlier.  Throughout the area, fence
lines and power lines are beginning to be covered with
many young Barn Swallow fledglings.  There were so 
many along the fences at Paddle Creek pond a couple of
days ago, I could park beside them and study those
young 'uns from above within three feet of my car 
window.  They know no fear.

Few colonies of the Cliff Swallows under bridges seem
to have much action left now and sometimes it is hard to see
many in the area.  However,  a number of nests remain
active with young being fed in the nest on the emergency
spillway crane at South Holston Dam.  I estimated a
dozen adults flying to and from nests under the crane
floor yesterday (25 June) and again today.

Ask yourself what an adult Bald Eagle is doing flying
around Steele Creek Park last Saturday (other than 
showing due respect to the BBC)?  ;)  There is an 
example of an adult wandering north for the fall season.
Heaven help us if it is from a nest on Beaver Creek
down at Boone Lake or even on a ridge face over
the lake in Steele Creek Park. Mercy !!

All of this addresses the overlapping of the breeding
season for some species and early indications of 
fall migration for others.  This is not new rocket science
or anything like that.  Jeff Wilson, in West Tennessee
at Memphis, has already begun to witness fall shorebird
migration passing south at Memphis.  He has written, 
over the years, that some early migrant species of 
shorebirds have been north to their breeding grounds,
bred, raised young and are flying back past Memphis 
going south along the Mississippi River while late 
migrant shorebirds are passing them and 
heading north to nest on their breeding grounds.

Sharing here a little for those who may not follow it that
closely or have never picked up on some of this.

Let's go birding . . . .

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN

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  • » [Bristol-Birds] Black-crowned Night-Heron at Middlebrook (scratch your head) ? - Wallace Coffey