[Bristol-Birds] Epic account of rare White Ibis at Bristol TN

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 17 Jul 2009 00:09:07 -0400

 A fabulous success story for the Bristol Bird Club !

 An immature White Ibis has been reported from Sutter Pond
 on Millwood Rd. in eastern Bristol Tennessee, Sullivan Co.

 This photo was taken 29 June 2009 by Ann Oakley, who said
 today that the bird had been there a few days before she made
 the picture and was there until about last weekend.  She 
 has been away for a few days and will try to get us a better end
 date.  She does not know if the bird is still in the area.  She 
 believes it was moving between Sutter Pond and the little spring
 house in her family's yard along Millwood Road -- a distance of
 a few hundred feet. 

 We've had only about a dozen records for the species in the
 five-county Northeast Tennessee birding area.  A similar 
 date range was from 21 June to 3 July 2000 when Frank Ward
 and Howard Langridge, along with many other birders, had 
 nine of the species at Siam Valley in Carter Co., TN

 The Bristol report comes to us as the result of a most amazing 
 set of  birding circumstances -- proof of what bird study, record 
 keeping and community outreach has produced due to the 
 unexpected  good effort and success of the Bristol Bird Club.

 It also underscores the impact of children programming 
 at the  Bristol Public Library.

 David Oakley, a retired chemist who lives in northwest Arkansas,
 e-mailed two images of this ibis to Wallace Coffey on Thursday
 evening.  He suggested that this would be a Bristol area record
 that we would want to know about.  David Oakley, brother to Sid
 Oakley who owns Oakley-Cook Funeral Home in Bristol, began 
 to attract birds to his Arkansas home.  That led to developing an
 interest and considerable skill with bird photography and then to
 birding as a serious hobby.  David eventually found his
 way back to childhood friend and high school classmate 
 Wallace Coffey, who David knew was a birder even back then,
 more than a half century ago.  Wallace and Dave have, for
 several years, exchanged photos and worked on identification

 At the April meeting of the BBC, Michelle Page, Children's 
 Librarian at the Bristol Public Library,  was on hand and the 
 BBC agreed to provide children's birding walks as part of the 
 library's 8-12 year old program.  Club member Michele Sparks 
 volunteered to facilitate the bird walks for BBC and the first 
 was scheduled for Monday, June 11, from 5 pm to 6 pm.

One of the very talented and brilliant children who came to 
Michele's event that evening was 8-year-old Elizabeth Oakley
who lives on Millwood Road.  Elizabeth's grandfather David
Oakley had, from time to time, sent Elizabeth photos he had
taken and encouraged her interest in birds by asking her to
ID the birds in his e-mails.

Michele, a fifth grade teacher in the Sullivan County School
System at Indian Springs Elementary, was the BBC's region
"Birder of the Year" for 2008.  She knew how to relate to the 
children and how to achieve the educational and entertainment 
goals for such an event.

Michele gave each child a small notebook and explained the
importance of keeping good records and writing down what
birds look like and such.  She also had on hand a copy of 
Rick Knight's The Birds of Northeast Tennessee -- Second
Edition published by BBC in 2008.  Ann Oakley purchased
a family copy from BBC.

The Bristol Bird Club / Bristol Public Library sponsored event
for children excited Elizabeth.  She began wanting to observe
all of the birds she could and began to write notes.

Would you believe, that along that tiny stream which runs in
the Oakley front yard, Elizabeth and her mother, on a family
yard bird walk, discovered one of the region's truly rare birds
-- an immature White Ibis ?

Two photos were e-mailed to David Oakley on the morning of
16 July 2009 and then forwarded to Wallace by David.  Within
moments, Wallace found a phone number for the Bristol Oakley
family and left a message.  Ann returned the called within an 
hour to Wallace's cell.  When this story was relayed to Michele
Sparks, she was ecstatic !  The fruits of labor for a teacher and
a birder had paid off big time for the Oakley family, young
Elizabeth, grandfather David, Wallace, the Bristol Bird Club,
librarian Michelle Page and the Bristol Public Library.

Elizabeth is the daughter of Ann and Greg Oakley of Bristol
and the great granddaughter of Dot Oakley Bibee.

Let's go birding . . . .

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN

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