March 10th, 2018,
Early March isn't generally considered the best time for a Big Day, but
Victor and I had been wishing to do one for a while already, and today
appeared to be good weather. (We had tried a day earlier in the week and
made a strong start but discontinued when we got to the lake and were
discouraged by the atmospheric distortion.)
This morning Alan Troyer joined us for a run between our home territory
in Perry County and ending at Paris Landing State Park in Henry County.
My black oil sunflower feeder produced Fox Sparrow, PURPLE FINCH, and
Pine Siskin at dawn, of course, as expected, and Wild Turkeys were gobbling
and Barred Owls hooting in the area. I think Purple Finch and Purple Martin
were the only two species from there that we didn't have again on the day.
We added a Pine Warbler at Alan's house, but had many at various
locations throughout the day.
Victor Spotted a MERLIN from the road as we drove through Depriest Bend
in Lobelville, TN.
At Lobelville Bottoms we had White-crowned Sparrows, Wilson's Snipe,
Eurasian Collared-dove, and an FOS LESSER YELLOWLEGS in an area that was
flooded by beavers. Also in the same general area, a GREAT HORNED OWL nest
had no adults in attendance, but two fairly large owlets were visible.
A known silo in Cherry Bottoms had a female BARN OWL incubating eggs on
the silo floor, but the male was not present.
The Duck River Unit TNWR is nearly all inundated with water and closed
right now, so we had to work harder, but we managed to scrape together
nearly all the expected dabblers and a few divers in the adjacent fields in
the upper Duck River Bottoms and at Honey Point Ferry Rd. Including
Shovelers, Pintails, Am. Wigeon, Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Canvasback,
Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead and a flyby Red-breasted Merganser.
Ospreys and Bald Eagles were everywhere, and a single LEAST SANDPIPER was
seen flying in a flock of Killdeers over the flooded Bottoms.
At the Pump Station we added Ruddy Ducks, Greater Scaup and 3 continuing
WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS that Alan spotted pretty far out and nearly around the
bend towards the New Johnsonville Bridge. The Scoters soon floated around
the bend towards the North. Our first two non-Canada Geese of the day were
out on the water with the diving ducks, a single SNOW GOOSE and GREATER
WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, together on the water. We were lucky to see any Geese
at all with the refuge closed.
Swallows were in short supply all day, but there were a handful of Tree
Swallows feeding over pool 1. Much lower numbers, though.
We made a quick, unsuccessful stop in New Johnsonville at the
Black-crowned Night-heron Roost area, but decided the daytime roost
probably isn't in use this close to the nesting season. There were none in
sight today anyways.
At Britton Ford we again found most of the regular diving ducks and
dabblers, but the only waterfowl addition was a ROSS'S GOOSE seen on the
water with the Mallards. Good numbers of FORSTER'S TERNS were around, and a
lot of Gulls, including 2 adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS loafing on the
grassy banks with the Ring-billed and Herring Gulls.
Two GREATER YELLOWLEGS (FOS) and a Lesser Yellowlegs made a total of 5
shorebirds on the day, and Alan finally found two hard-earned BROWN
CREEPERS along the partly flooded Swamp Creek Rd. As we watched the
creepers Victor and Alan saw a rufous morph EASTERN SCREECH-OWL fly through
in broad daylight! I didn't see the Owl, but it was the fourth Owl species
of the day with no nocturnal birding. We ended up staying at Britton Ford
for several hours with all the birds around, and found a calling FISH CROW
and two surprise LECONTE'S SPARROWS that Victor rustled up at a different,
upland location. (All the usual locations were totally flooded).
We made it to Port Road/Trailer Road area around 3:30 p.m., but all the
open areas of the lake from there up to Paris Landing had less birds on it
than I've seen here all winter. Only a handful of Scaup and Goldeneye came
in even at roost time, and only a few scattered loons around the lake. I
finally found an adult RED-THROATED LOON from the Gray's Landing side just
North of the bridge around 5 p.m. but that was the only addition for much
of the afternoon.
Alan missed seeing the Purple Finch and Purple Martin because he didn't
come over to our house in the morning. Victor missed the Barn Owl because
he stayed in the car. I missed the Screech-owl and the White-winged Scoters
because the other guys didn't bother to tell me in time. Overall, we had a
pretty good day and all saw nearly all the birds.
We had a total of 115 species for the day. The highest previous Tennessee
big day for March that we could find was one of 111 species by Sloan and
Degrosellier on March 31, 2011, I think. Here is our complete species list;
Greater White-fronted Goose
American Black Duck
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Besides Black-crowned Night-heron we missed Barn Swallow, Cedar Waxwing
and Vesper Sparrow, all species that would normally not be too difficult to
Ruben Stoll, Centerville TN