[TN-Bird] Percy Priest Lake: Eared Grebe, Surf Scoters, Merlin, etc.

  • From: "Scott Somershoe" <Scott.Somershoe@xxxxxx>
  • To: <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 19:55:34 -0600

I met Ed Schneider this afternoon at the Anderson Rd Rec Area on Percy Priest 
Lake to look for the Eared Grebe that Terry Witt found yesterday.  We found the 
eared grebe easily and it was seen all afternoon and until dusk.  The bird was 
seen from the first access area by the small parking lot and in the small 
inlets up to the tip where the merlins roost.

After seeing the grebe and not much else, we went to Hamilton Creek to see if 
there was anything different over there.  After about 4 min of scanning the 
lake I noticed to large, black ducks that were being attacked by Ring-billed 
Gulls.  I got a great look at a male Surf Scoter in company of a female.  They 
were harassed for 10 min and during that time got further and further away.  
Even digiscoping was nearly pointless.  I think we got identifiable pictures of 
them, but we found them at 4:15 under cloudy skies and had little light to work 
with.  The birds eventually flew off from an area that should have been pretty 
close to the merlin roost at Anderson Rd area.  Wish we'd stayed at Anderson Rd!

We then went back hoping that the scoters were visible from Anderson Rd (and 
hoping to see merlin).  We found 2 merlin at the roost site about 5:00 pm.  The 
scoters were not relocated after intensive searching until it was too dark to 

The three great birds (Eared Grebe, Surf Scoter, and Merlin) were topped off by 
the largest concentration of gulls I've seen on Percy Priest Lake.  At one 
point I was able to count by 1000's when a large group was in the air and 
counted about 16,000, with another unknown large number on the water.  I have 
no doubt an estimate of 20-25,000 total gulls is conservative.  I had ~1200 
Bonapartes Gulls in one group, which is pretty impressive for my experience 
with Percy Priest this year (and my high count by a lot).  The majority 
Ring-billed Gulls were roosting close to the Cook Rec Area and were way too far 
off to see well.  

Great birding!!
Scott Somershoe

State Ornithologist
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204
615-781-6653 (o)
601-868-0101 (cell)
615-781-6654 (fax)

"Keeping the rubber side down." -SGS
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  • » [TN-Bird] Percy Priest Lake: Eared Grebe, Surf Scoters, Merlin, etc. - Scott Somershoe