[tn-bird] Early Shorebird Dates-West TN

  • From: OLCOOT1@xxxxxxx
  • To: tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 07:57:26 EDT

July 6-7, 2002
Island 13
Lake Co. TN

Magic "13" worked again; Saturday afternoon in oven bake heat, I found a few 
Killdeer and 3 Least Sandpipers shimmering (or that could be simmering) on 
Island 13. The pools look good but I'm afraid they are still elevated and 
will probably dry too fast to be real good if the river gets low.

I saw a head drifting along behind a rise in one pool and when investigated 
it turned out to be a Willet. This is about 10 days early by my personal 
records but they have shown up as early as July 3rd elsewhere in the state. 
As I watched it work, probing along the waters edge another large bird caught 
my eye much farther off strolling away from me across the sand. I assumed it 
was another Willet and it quickly disappeared in the rolling terrain. There 
are usually hidden pools that you can't see so I didn't think much about this 
second bird and I was not going to push my luck with the heat which now had 
every stitch of clothing on me wringing wet.

After about 45 minutes the bird appeared again but hundreds of yards away 
from the first sighting. This time it was quartering and I could make out 
that the bird was much too dark for a normal western Willet. Trying to keep 
up with this power walker was hard as it would disappear and reappear after 
long minutes. The afternoon sun is always in your face but my mind kept 
thinking about how Whimbrel are always walking and disappearing like this 
bird. Soon the bird had walked far enough north that I had better lighting 
and finally it turned so I could see the bill. Whimbrel for sure and this 
bird was 2 weeks earlier than my previous early record of two birds at Ensley 
Bottoms years before.

I left the island and when I got a good signal called Nancy Moore. She and 
Ken Leggett were able to find both birds in the late afternoon and I returned 
Sunday morning and after much searching found only the Whimbrel on the very 
north end of Island 13 using the north entrance to access that area. The only 
other bird of interest seen at this location was a single Ring-billed Gull 
flying the river.

Over the weekend I found 3 Lesser Yellowlegs at Ensley Bottoms in Memphis, 
one each along the Great River Road in Dyer Co.and on the north side of 
Phillippy in Lake Co. Least Sandpipers were seen in Shelby, Dyer and Lake 
Counties with the high number at one location only 5 birds.  

Good Birding!!!

Jeff R. Wilson
Bartlett Tenn.

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