[TN-Bird] Sabine's & etc. : NW TN 9/10/03 (long)

  • From: <birder1@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2003 00:01:24 -0500

Lake, Dyer, Lauderdale Co.

I met Nancy Moore for what proved to be quite an interesting half-day of
birding, as I had some work in Jackson that had to get done this

Nancy and I met at the Tiptonville Bar (or where it would be if it was
out of the water), and made a run to Island 13.  Our day got off to a
good start when we saw an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER on the road into Island
13. This bull-headed beauty treated us to some stunning looks from
close-range, and let us watch it make short work of a pretty large

Island 13 was devoid of shorebirds, besides a few Killdeer there were
only 3 SANDERLINGS and a couple of Least Sandpipers. Of course I had
Sabine's Gull in the back of my mind, as usual this time of year, and
especially after that great find in E. TN last weekend. We had seen a
few Ring-billed Gulls and Least Terns, and a single Forster's Tern, all
of which were on the distant sliver of what remained of Island 13. While
scanning and watching the Forster's bathe on the north end of the point,
I had 2 very graceful gulls fly through my field of view. From a
side-view it wasn't obvious what they were, as I couldn't get a good
look at the wing pattern. But, when one of them flared-up briefly and
gave me a quick look at the upperwing pattern, I think my heart skipped
a beat. I'm not sure what exactly the 1st words out of my mouth were
(and probably couldn't repeat them here anyway), but I believe Nancy
knew we had something special going on. The 2 juvenile SABINE'S GULLS
landed immediately after that, and Nancy took a look through my scope to
get a bearing on the birds. We watched these birds slowly work their way
down the outer sandbar, flying down a little ways, strolling around
briefly, then repeating the process. They did this 3 times, the last
time landing on a tiny spit with a Ring-billed, and then continued

Out initial observation was at 08:30 and we had the birds in view for
the next 15-20 minutes. Talk about being at the right place at the right
time, but Jeff has mentioned that this is prime time for Sabine's. I
attempted to get some photos of the birds, but they were really beyond
the realistic limits of my 4X zoom Coolpix. Nancy was going to go back
and get her Sony Mavica out of her truck, but it was obvious the birds
probably wouldn't be here when she got back. I have posted one very bad
flight shot (of the underwing at that) which does show the subtle white
triangle, seen so boldly on the upperwing. These were stunning birds in
every way, and brought back fond memories of a day at Kentucky Dam,
finally getting one up there a couple of years ago after a day's search.
I finally feel vindicated with this bird in TN, as I was looking for a
Sabine's Jeff had last year at Mud Island when my car was broken into.
The pic is posted in the "Uncommon to Rare Local Birds (Vol.3) album at:

The only other bird of note on Island 13, was a distant raptor perched
on some driftwood. It turned out to be a nice female-type MERLIN
(probably a juvenile female based on size, no signs of molt on a very
close fly-by, and timing). As there were no other raptors for her to
torment out there, she held up the Merlin tradition by giving a
passing-by Crow a fit. She then flew back towards us giving a great
view, before passing by practically at eye-level headed north.

We spent the rest of the mid-day checking shorebirds spots, with nothing
out of the ordinarily to show for it. One hole that has been very
flooded of late, had over 75 Lesser Yellowlegs, 5 Stilt Sandpipers, 4
Black-necked Stilts, several Least, and the 1 Pec for the day. The flats
at White Lake (out from the observation tower) had a Semi Sand and
Western among the Least there, along with a Stilt Sandpiper and 4
Black-necked Stilts again.

Our last spot was the nice area just north of the Obion River on the
Great River Rd. We had over 150 Least, 3 Westerns, 1 Semi Sand, 3 Lesser

We parted ways at this point, both of still wearing a smile from the
magic show that is Island 13, with Nancy a lifer and me a state bird for
the better! I continued my wonderful warbler ways this fall, by not
seeing a SINGLE warbler today, but for some reason that isn't bothering
me much.

Thanks Jeff for posting the birds, and you'll probably get a much better
shot when you catch these birds coming through Memphis.

Good birding!!

Mike Todd
McKenzie, TN
Carroll Co.

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  • » [TN-Bird] Sabine's & etc. : NW TN 9/10/03 (long)