[TN-Bird] Yellow-billed and Red-throated Loon ++ Long

  • From: OLCOOT1@xxxxxxx
  • To: tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2005 08:23:58 EST

DEC. 3-4, 2005
Lauderdale Waterfowl Refuge
Lauderdale Co.
Reelfoot Lake Area
Lake-Obion Co.
Tennessee. NWR - Henry and Benton Co.
Hatchie NWR
Haywood Co. TN
The Morning of odd plumaged birds!
There were plenty of ducks to peruse at Lauderdale with a few eastern and  
western type Red-tailed Hawks thrown in for good perusing. The partial albino  
Green-winged Teal was the first odd ball find just after day break. Against the 
 shimmering, silvery water the bird was actually well camouflaged. It had a 
solid  white head and sides with some dark feathering on the back and near its 
tail.  Then I found a cross dressing Pintail with female body plumage and the 
head  and neck feathering of a male bird!! The field Sparrow at the nearby  
Arnold airfield also sported a white head with symmetrical white stripping  on 
the wings and tail. A lone Cackling Goose in with the 300+ Greater  
White-fronted Geese and a few Snow Geese was the last find before we  left. 
A quick run to the north and while checking a drying slough where we have  
seen Least Sandpipers for the last few weeks, what do I see but a large 
 snowflake walking around in the mud. I scare Mike Todd to death as we are  
talking and I suddenly jump out of the truck yelling get a photo, get a  photo. 
I've seen one other leucistic Least Sandpiper before this beauty,  that bird 
was found at the Phillippy Pits years ago and I only got poor photos  of it. 
The Phillippy bird was not quite as light but more dusky than  this bird. Mike 
got some good photos and I got some that are mediocre  of a wonderful find on 
a cool, dreary,  windy morning.
At Reelfoot Lake, I immediately came across a swallow swooping over the  
water out from the state boat dock, which turned out to be surprisingly, a 
Barn Swallow. We searched from various viewing areas from Champey Pocket to  
Samburg and Mike finally located the adult Little Gull in the same area we have 
 picked the bird up before and later the immature makes a brief appearance 
just  before we leave. Kevin Calhoun saw the immature again on Sunday out from 
the  state park boardwalk. We did not find the Red-necked Grebe but it may be 
in  hiding and we hope the Little Gulls stay around to be tallied on the CBC. 
In  keeping with the white theme for the day, I found a late Great Egret 
forlornly  perched in a cypress tree.
I headed for the TN River and started the day with THREE Great Egrets  
kettling with a bunch of Ring-billed Gulls high above Eagle Creek. There were 
plus Common Loons in Eagle Creek trying to stay out of the cold, cutting wind 
 at least the choppy waves making sightings difficult. I tried Paris Landing 
and  came up with more distant views and then Port and Trailer Road, At Port 
there  were only 20 or so loons but they were moving north toward Eagle Creek 
and  at Trailer Road there were gulls working over some loons but they were  
over on the other side near Budwieser Beach. 
I returned to the Eagle Creek boat ramp and watched as a group of loons  
passed out of view going south. One of these loons peaked my interest and I 
around Lakeview Drive to look around the island at the mouth of Eagle Creek. I 
 walked out for a better look between the island and there in full hulking 
bulk  was the Yellow-billed Loon, the best look I've had yet and this time in  
light good enough to see the pale yellow outer half of the upturned bill. The  
bird passed to the south, I waited a couple of hours at Port Road but they 
never  made it back.  
At Britton Ford, there was a ton of ducks but lighting and distance were  
making things tough. I decided to walk for a LeConte's in one of their old  
haunts just north of where they tore up their regular wintering grounds. I  
one bright bird that sat in the tree line, it was the only glorious hint  of 
warmth all day. Cedar Waxwings were everywhere and I found Pine Siskins also  
in the mixed flocks feeding high in the sweetgum trees.
Lick Creek held a few gulls, with 5 Forster's Terns in the mix and 4 White  
Pelicans in the distance. Granny's had a huge flock of coots in the bay with an 
 attending adult Bald Eagle on the south shore tree line. A few loons were 
seen  in the channel. 
Pace and Rocky Point were just too plain cold to find much but Golden-eye  
were looked through for a long over due species. Red-breasted Mergansers were  
steaming about in long lines while Ruddy ducks all stayed tucked. Finally, at  
Budwieser Beach, I got close to the feeding gulls and loons and could get out 
of  the wind hiding up close to the bank. About 30 Common Loons were fishing 
and  even more gulls were trying to pilfer their catch. Inside the small bay to 
the  south up popped the Red-throated Loon. This bird likes to stay in the 
area from  Port Road to Trailer Road where it has been seen on every trip for 
the past few  weeks. It gives you a couple of quick looks and is gone.
I decided to leave early enough to check the Hatchie NWR on the way  home. I 
was hoping the Vermilion Flycatcher might make it back for its third  year but 
I could not come up with anything but a couple of cool Eastern Phoebes.  
There were 6 Redhead Ducks in keeping with their increased numbers everywhere 
far this season, along with Gadwall, Mallards and Ring-necked Ducks. Among the 
 resident Canada Geese were a couple of bright spots, an adult Ross's and an  
immature Snow Goose.  A great comparison of size shape and bills. There was  
also a crazy mongrel Canada that had domestic goose in its genes. I'll try to  
post a photo of the geese. In the edge of the Panicum grass along one levee, 
I  flushed 2 LeConte's Sparrows, again this is the best habitat for these 
birds  that I have seen this year.
Good Birding  !!!
Jeff R. Wilson / TLBA
6298 Memphis-Arlington Road
Bartlett, TN  38135

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  • » [TN-Bird] Yellow-billed and Red-throated Loon ++ Long