[TN-Bird] NW TN 09/15/03

  • From: <birder1@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2003 20:38:11 -0500

NW TN (Mississippi River area)
Lake, Dyer, and Lauderdale Co.

I made a last minute decision to go back to the Reelfoot area, as I
couldn't make my mind up to go there or down to Memphis (which probably
should have been the choice).

I started the morning off on Key Corner Rd., just west of Halls in
Lauderdale Co. This is the road that the bulk of the warblers came off
of one memorable May day last year when Jeff, Mark, and I had 32 species
of warblers. As expected, today was nothing like that. I had only 5
species of warblers on the day, but a gorgeous adult male Redstart made
up for some of the lack of quantity. A "whitting" LEAST FLYCATCHER kept
me company for a while as well. Vireos in this area still seem to think
it's breeding season, as White-eyes were singing several places, with
the occasional Red-eyed as well. This is an excellent area, but I didn't
spend much time here today.

I had high hopes for Island 13 and the River in general, now that it is
down quite a bit. Glenn Criswell had just gone out on 13 when I got
there, we walked from one end of the island to the other, by much
seemingly excellent looking habitat, and had one distant peep to show
for it. Not even a Killdeer! Evidently the river has dropped so fast
that the newly restored habitat isn't very productive yet. All that was
on Island 13 were Caspian Terns (1 when we got there but was up to 6
when we left), 6 Pintails, and Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets.
Tiptonville Bar was much the same, except there were literally NO birds
to be seen.  One small bar I did come across had 3 Caspian, 12
Forster's, and my 1st COMMON TERN of the season.

Shorebirds were seen in good numbers in the few places with suitable
habitat. It is a very strange season, several places that have been
productive are about dry, and several others have so much water they are
only holding waterfowl. Duck numbers are up, with Pintail 3 locations,
and my 1st Gadwall of the season as well. Regarding shorebirds, there
were a few surprises. Peep numbers, especially Least, are still good,
but I only had 2 Pectorals all day. The 1st of these caused a little
quickening of my pulse, as the breast was noticeably buffy and the
streaking so fine that it was almost nonexistent. Unfortunately the bird
had none of the head pattern of the hoped-for Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.
Black-necked Stilts were seen a couple of spots last week, but I didn't
run across any today, including one spot they've been very regular. The
only somewhat unusual shorebird I ran across today was a molting
juvenile WILSON'S PHALAROPE. This bird was feeding in a flooded field
with a large group of long-legged waders, namely over 100 Lesser
Yellowlegs and several Stilt Sandpipers. It was neat to watch the
Phalarope swim by a wading Yellowlegs or Stilt. The bird was largely in
basic plumage, but still had the brightly-edged juvenile tertials and a
few dark juvenile coverts and scaps mixed in with the nice gray
feathers. I always get a kick out of watching these little beauties
feed, they make a Yellowlegs look lazy! If anyone's interested I've
posted a pic of the Phalarope at my website, under the Uncommon to rare
local birds (vol.3) album.

Good birding!!

Mike Todd
McKenzie, TN
Carroll Co.

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