WARNING, LONG RAMBLING POST!
July 30th, 2016
Victor Stoll, Alan Troyer, Evan Beachy and I did a big day yesterday that
started at midnight, and lasted a full 24 hour period until midnight, and
covered 432 road miles.
We started the day in our neighborhood near Lobelville, TN at midnight,
heading North along the Tennessee River to Paris, then East to Clarksville
in Montgomery County, where we began the daylight portion of the trip.
We then turned around and headed back the way we came, hitting all the
same hotspots in the daylight.
Much of the afternoon was spent filling in warblers around home in Perry
County, which turned out to be extremely difficult and time-consuming.
At dusk we hit the road again, this time headed for the pits in Memphis,
TN where we spent the last hour before midnight picking up a few West TN
Our first bird of the day was an Eastern Screech-owl, a cooperative bird
at 12:15 a.m., that came in very close in response to my whistle while we
waited on Alan to get out of bed. It would be the only one of the day.
We then drove a local backcountry road that normally has large numbers of
Whips, but didn't get a single bird of any kind.
Our second and third bird of the day were Great-blue and Yellow-crowned
Night-heron, both flushed up from around Rochelle Ponds in Southern
Our only Great-horned Owls came from Britton Ford, where two were hooting
far in the distance.
Just before dawn we arrived at Lylewood Road in Clarksville, where Joe
Hall met us and guided us through some of his best hotspots for nocturnal
Still no night jars, but in addition to Barred Owl, Blue-winged Teal and
Red-headed woodpecker and many common birds, we picked up a totally
unexpected Barn Owl, that wasn't seen, but clearly heard screaming several
On our way to the Fort Campbell area we had House Sparrow, Collared-dove,
and some other suburban specialties.
We were hoping to clean up all the woodland species and warblers at Fort
Campbell, but birding was very slow, without a single warbler flock found,
and none singing properly. The grand total of Warblers heard singing all
day was 3. (Pine, Prothonotary, Parula)
We did however, have the good fortune of finding a very early female
Blackburnian warbler, as well as clean up some other hard to find birds,
including Bobwhite, Turkey, Cooper's Hawk, Hairy Woodpecker, Willow
Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo, Gray Catbird, and Henslow's and Grasshopper
At 8:30 we took off for Cross Creeks, where Joe Hall and Sharon Arnold
had gone ahead and staked out good numbers of shorebirds and waders, and
were holding them for us.
Here we got all the common shorebirds(except LEYE) and waders, with the
better ones being Snowy Egret, Little-blue Heron, Black-crowned
Night-heron, our only Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, Stilt
Bank Swallows were here, and Pied-billed Grebe, and Alan also had the
only Warbling Vireo of the day.
We also learned of a White Ibis report from the previous day across the
river at Barkley WMA, so we decided to do a quick sidetrip and try to get
it for Alan's year list, but all the waders in the area were very distant
and behind closed gates, so we had to settle for a Flicker that was sitting
in a dead treetop.
We reached Paris Landing State Park by 10:30 with over 100 species and
good hopes of beating the old July record of 116 species set by Jeff Wilson
and Mark Greene in West Tennessee.
Here we found Caspian and Forster's Terns, a second cycle Herring with
the Ring-billed Gulls, and out on the lake, a strange, very dark gull that
I was hoping would turn out to be a Laughing Gull.
A few minutes later it got up and tore out after a terrified Ring-billed
Gull that dropped everything and fled for it's life.
A Jaeger!!!!! is the only bird that would do something like that, and
after observing for a few minutes, we decided that the heavy chest, deep
wings, Ring-billed size and twisted, rounded central tail-feathers made it
a Pomerine Jaeger!
We needed to leave, so we instructed Sharon Arnold (who had arrived on
the scene and got good photos) to post photos on Facebook, and Mike Todd
would give the final word on the I.D.
(Final word, Pomerine Jaeger, I haven't heard whether it's a sure enough
adult, or just close to adult.)
From there we headed West to flat Country (Jones Mill Rd) with a quick
at the Knights Inn in Paris for a stakeout House Wren, and then on for
Mississippi Kite, Lark Sparrow and Horned Lark.
Much to our disappointment, all the good fields were grown up in crops
(of course, how could we not know that) and we dipped on all the targets.
We picked up only Cedar Waxwing, which flew over with a flock of
We need not have worried about a Kite, after getting to Benton County we
had one circling every 100 ft. or so, all the way through Humphreys County.
We also saw many Cooper's Hawks, but still no Broad-winged.
Crossing over the New Johnsonville Bridge Victor looked down the river
and noticed a large mass of Gulls and Terns on a pond about half a mile
away and behind closed gates. By going back and pulling over in the middle
of the bridge we were able to set up scopes and pull out a young Laughing
Gull from among the Ringers.
Pool 1, Duck River Unit was flooded, with few birds, but we picked up
Pelicans, and Alan and Evan found 2 Baltimore Orioles and a Crested
Pool 6 had the best shorebird habitat since Cross Creeks with many of the
common shorebirds, but the American Golden and Dowitchers were nowhere to
be found, and all we added was a Lesser Yellowlegs.
At 3 p.m. we were still lacking basically all the more difficult
warblers, so we headed for Perry County (where else can you get warblers
in the middle of the afternoon?) and on the way, finally got a Broad-winged
At Evan's House, we hiked the ridge where Ceruleans are known to nest,
but all we got for an hours work was ticks and spider webs. And two or
three distant chips from a Kentucky Warbler.
Stoll Farm always has a warbler flock, so we headed there, but it took
over 2 hours to find silent Blue-winged Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and
a real Kentucky Warbler.
At 7 p.m. Alan finally found a female Cerulean Warbler hiding high in the
treetops along Cane Creek.
Just before dark Evan teased out a scolding Hooded Warbler behind his
house (our second time to try there) that was seen by all except me.
At dark we gave up on a Worm-eating Warbler and American Redstart that we
knew were there, and dead tired with 128 species under our belts we headed
for the Memphis pits. ( Evan was required to drop out at this point)
We arrived in Memphis at 11:15 p.m. and went straight to TVA Lake.
It was the right thing to do. Our headlights revealed all the
Black-necked Stilts in Tennessee roosting with most of the Black-bellied
Whistling Ducks, among other kinds of waterfowl, and a single Least Tern
at the water's edge.
Careful glassing revealed one last chance at an American Golden Plover
just before midnight, for species number 132.
I hope it's at least a month before I need to do another Big Day!
Here is the species list.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
American Golden Plover
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Birds I consider missed are:
None of them were really bad misses, however, and we considered it a
Thanks to Joe Hall and Sharon Arnold for the assistance, and to Brainerd
Palmer-Ball for suggesting that if we would be very smart we would atleast
try a Tennessee Big Day.
Ruben Stoll, Centerville TN