[TN-Bird] Weekend Rambles

  • From: <birder1@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2003 10:42:29 -0500

Field trip with Warioto Audubon Society
Cross Creeks, Britton Ford, Big Sandy-Pace Point
Stewart, Henry, Benton Co.

Cultra Turf Specialists Sod Farm
Gibson Co.

After several conversations regarding timing, it was agreed and planned
that I would meet several members of the Warioto Audubon Society of
Clarksville for a supposed shorebird field trip on the 6th. Things were
shaping up nicely, KY Lake was finally dropping, and shorebirds were
responding. The deluge we had earlier in the week pretty much laid waste
to any shorebird plans, but we had a great day in the field nonetheless.

Don Manning and myself met everyone at the visitor center at Cross
Creeks NWR at 8:30 that morning. Immediately after getting out of the
car I noticed a lot of activity around some cherry and pine trees near
the headquarters. We were soon in the midst of a nice mixed-species
flock, and finally some fall warblers (after seeing everyone's posting
lately, I was beginning to take my lack of warblers rather personally!).
The 1st birds I saw from the parking lot were a Maggie and Prairie
Warbler. After the group gathered around and started calling birds, the
majority of the warblers present were Pines, at least a dozen in all
shades of plumage, from very drab young birds to bright adult males. A
rather early Palm Warbler also treated us to a tail-bobbing session.
Best bird of this flock, (and of the day) was an exquisite
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER that I was unfortunately only able to get a
few people onto as the bird passed quickly through the area. This bird
was bright enough that it was probably a juvenile bird, as the olive and
yellow tones were not too subtle at all. The bird left our area, but
stayed in the general vicinity as I heard its Pewee-like "pr-eee" call
once a little later. This would prove to be our only good concentration
like this of the day though.

After enjoying the passerines for a while, we decided to see just how
full the refuge pools were, and full they were. At one pool we stopped
to look over a dashing young Snowy Egret, and got our only shorebirds of
the day other than Killdeer. Three Spotties were unusually traveling
together, as we saw them looking for a place that suited them. Shortly
after a large group of Killdeer came into the area, with some peeps in
tow. They hit a distant plowed field, and the peeps couldn't be
relocated. Shortly later a second small group of peeps came over head
which were calling, and they were Semi Sands, which is what the one bird
I got on that went into the field with the Killdeer appeared to be.
Shorebirds were coming through, too bad their habitat was underwater.
Killdeer were everywhere, with 75-100 seen in the air at one time.

Cross Creeks was good for raptors, with great looks at an almost
orange-breasted juvenile Harrier that worked over a field just in front
of us. We had a great side-by-side comparison with a pair of
Red-shouldered's, emphasizing the size difference in the large female
and small male. Conditions were good for raptors, as vultures, mostly
Blacks, were up in numbers everywhere. It took some looking, but we
finally got some Broad-winged's up, all at high altitude though. The 1st
Broadie I saw  was a juvenile in a high-altitude jousting match with a
same-age Red-shouldered. There was a striking difference in the size of
these birds as well, evidently a small male Broad-winged, and big female
Red-shouldered. While we were watching these birds, among a group of
vultures overhead we briefly saw a couple of other Broad-wings at high
altitude, one of these being a nice banded-tail adult. Not much else at
Cross Creeks other than a couple of Pintail sharing a slough with Wood

We left Cross Creeks on our way to Britton Ford and the Big Sandy area.
We didn't stop and look, but on the way over that morning Don and I
looked at the island out from Paris Landing that is JUST out of the
water, with several Ring-billed and Caspian present. The group made a
quick stop at Paris Landing for a sandwich, then loaded back up. Britton
Ford was slow as expected, but everyone has an idea where some of the
good areas are.

On the way over to Big Sandy/Pace Point, we stopped briefly at one of my
favorite spots, the inundated Lick Creek flats. Nothing here but
Killdeer and a Snowy Egret, but that will change as the water drops. As
it was mid-day when we were going into Pace Point, the road was pretty
quiet. Pace Point itself had a little bit of grassy flats exposed, which
looked good for Buffies or Baird's, but Killdeer were all we could find.
The Point was covered up in Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian's, and while
we were there a lone basic adult Forster's Tern dropped in for a little

As it was getting late in the day, and I had to work all-night, we bode
the group farewell after a wonderful day to be out. It's always nice to
meet new people that share your love for birds and the outdoors!

So, after birding all day and working all night, what do you do the next
day when you get off? Naturally, you go check out the sod farm that Mark
Greene mentioned having Buffies at Friday. I made a small detour on the
way home Sunday morning, and wound-up in Humboldt at the Cultra Turf
Specialists Sod Farm, my 1st time there. The number of Killdeer was
astronomical (a quick count was 350+), and one of the 1st birds I came
across was a very ratty, molting adult AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER. It didn't
take much longer to start picking up BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS in the
distance, with their distinctive tip-toeing foraging action and golden
color. I finally tallied seven Buffies, with a group of five hanging
together, and two more doing their thing on their own. I didn't see any
likely Pectoral or Baird's candidates, but with that many birds spread
over that much area, they could have easily been there. A single
Solitary (fitting I guess) at a small mud puddle along the edge rounded
out the shorebirds.  Thanks Mark for posting this location. None of the
Buffies ever came in very close, but I did get a decent shot of one
which I'm posting to my website, under the "Uncommon to rare local birds
(vol.3)" album. The following link should put you straigth to the

Those Buffies looked pretty good out there, but I'm not sure if my bed
didn't look a little better when I finally got home!

Good birding!!

Mike Todd
McKenzie, TN
Carroll Co.

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