[TN-Bird] Shady Valley rails etc. REFORMAT

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2006 19:19:40 -0400

8 June 2006
Johnson County, TN

Shady Valley

Tennessee's highest mountain valley

2,800 feet elevation


The coming, going and commotion at Quarry Bog in Shady Valley is intense.  


Two of Tennessee's rarest breeding-season marsh birds have captured the
imagination of Northeast Tennessee birders.  


Oh!  Almost forgot to tell you - SOAR and the AMERICAN BITTERN.  Yep.  Put
that in your record books and go figure.  Make that two to four Soras and
what is probably a lonely, lingering, American Bittern.  The Soras have
attract a lot of attention during the last 10 days.  The bittern is the new
bird on the block.


Tom Laughlin, Rick Knight and Wallace Coffey observed the American Bittern
flying across the upper end of The Tennessee Nature Conservancy's bog this
morning while hunting for breeding evidence of the Sora.  It evidently
returned to a spot northeast of Brickyard Branch where it was flushed in
late morning by Laughlin and Knight. It could not be flushed again in early


This species of bittern is very rare in Tennessee during June. It is the
first known June record for Northeast Tennessee. There are no June records
for nearby Southwest Virginia.  Old summer records exist from Montgomery and
Roanoke counties but no suspected breeding in the Mountain and Valley Region
of Virginia since the mid-1900s.


The bittern is a summer jewel and a keeper for our records.  David Patterson
and others had an American Bittern 7-8 June 2003 at Standifer Gap Marsh,
Chattanooga, down in Hamilton County.


Tom McNeil and J.T. McNeil started the Sora hunt when they found "3-4 SORAS"
at Quarry Bog in Shady 26 May 2006 along with a couple of Virginia Rails
which are known to breed in the 60-acre preserve.  Give them all the credit
for what is happening there now.


Beavers moved in a few years ago and built a dam on Brickyard Branch.  Now,
with a big lodge well in place, they have turned up their dam construction
and water management.  With no less than 20 acres flooded and the explosion
of emergent aquatic plants, Quarry Bog has turned into a haven for water
birds and marsh fowl.  What we once knew as the Quarry Bog wetlands has
become a sight to behold.  


"Could or would Soras nest in Shady Valley?  Quarry Bog has definitely

changed.  I almost feel like I'm somewhere along the coast, especially when

I look out over the left side area." - Tom McNeil, 26 May 2006


McNeil has been all over the Soras like a wet blanket :-)  Knight found two
there Monday.  McNeil found two there early Wednesday morning.  Coffey found
two calling just before noon on Wednesday.  


McNeil, who lives only 15 minutes away in Carter County, went back late
Wednesday and took the quiet approach, sitting at the end of the mowed path.


"During a period of about 90 minutes, a single Sora (I assume it was the
same bird) made six passes back and forth across the waterway," he wrote in
an e-mail to Coffey, 7 June. 


Knight, Laughlin and Coffey spent nearly six hours searching for evidence of
the Sora breeding there. It is possible several birds are present.  We heard
a Sora give its whinny, descending call maybe 10 times today.  Despite
several attempts to lure it with a tape call, none responded.


The only state breeding record for the Sora was in the spring of 1990 when
Martha Waldron and others had two black chicks with an adult at the T.E.
Maxson Treatment Plant at the EARTH Complex in southwest Shelby County, TN -
17 April to 8 June (The Migrant, 61(2):55,1990).


The region has one other record for this month.  It is a bird 21 June 1956
in a Roaring Fork hayfield in Greene County and reported by Ruth Reed Nevius
(The Migrant 27 (3):52, 1956).


Let's go birding...


Wallace Coffey

Bristol, TN









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  • » [TN-Bird] Shady Valley rails etc. REFORMAT