From time to time my wife claims that I can be obsessive, but I don’t know what she’s talking about. On a completely unrelated subject, I’ve been to the Chattanooga Riverwalk at least 5 times in the past couple of weeks. On Mondays I have the privilege of spending the afternoon with two of my home-school grandsons, Chase and Jeff, so this week we walked a couple of miles of the Chattanooga Riverwalk, and then on Tuesday Cindy and I visited the pond next to the Curtain Pole Road parking area of the Riverwalk. They were a good two days for our birding – we were able to photograph three lifers we’ve seen during these couple of weeks of walking the Riverwalk. Here are some photos; the Gadwalls and Mergansers are from the pond next to Curtain Pole Road, and the Green-winged Teal was on the pond at Amnicola Marsh.
A doctor’s appointment took me out to the foot of Missionary Ridge on Thursday morning, and since I was out in the vicinity I decided to make another visit to the Amnicola Marsh along the Chattanooga Riverwalk. I was hoping to get a closer look at the Hooded Mergansers we’d spotted a week earlier. And while those ducks were there, I once again proved that not only am I a rookie as a birder, I’m still a rookie as a bird photographer. I can get frame-filling photos of birds that act like wildflowers – allowing me to approach closely and spend some time taking several photos, as did the Canada Goose and the Mockingbird shown below.
Cindy and I decided to take advantage of the first sunshine in 9 days by driving up to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN on Friday (Jan 18.) Over the past decade this area has become a main overwintering stop for Sandhill Crane. We had gone up there in mid-November to check them out (and the excellent nearby Cherokee Removal Memorial Park,) and we did get to see a number of the cranes, but none closer than probably 1/4 mile. We were really hoping to get a closer look, and we did, but not quite what we wanted. We saw a couple dozen of these large birds, but none closer that probably 150 yards. After we watched these birds for a while with the couple of dozen other birders there, we went down to Harrison Bay State Park, and photographed some ducks and coots. Here are some photos.
Chattanooga has done a great job of developing its riverfront and greenways over the past 20 years. The Riverwalk that runs for 10 miles along or near the Tennessee River from the Tennessee Aquarium on the riverfront in downtown Chattanooga all the way up to Chickamauga Dam is a jewel of that development. It’s one that I’ve so far neglected to explore except for a couple of small pieces. My wife, Cindy, and I will start trying to correct that neglect. On Friday and Saturday we walked and photographed a section of the Riverwalk near the Amnicola Marsh, visited the bridge over Chickamauga Creek, and also enjoyed a Great Blue Heron rookery on the Chattanooga State Community College campus. Here are a few photographs from this past week.
Around 20 years ago when I planted a row of Bradford pear trees in front of my house, I thought I liked them. Now I’m thinking of replacing them, even though I still like them – occasionally. Those occasions are the 2 days in the spring while they bloom (OK, maybe it’s 3 days,) the week or so in the fall while they turn a beautiful red/purple/orange before dropping their leaves, and finally whenever the Cedar Waxwings show up to eat the berries. I still want to replace the trees, but it will have to be with something (native) that will continue to feed the Cedar Waxwings (wonder about Serviceberry.) This fall the arrival of these lovely birds coincided with the fall color of the leaves – reducing my time of appreciation for my Bradford pear trees. (Click on the photos for a larger view.)
Cindy and I decided to head up to Ft. Desoto County Park for the afternoon of our anniversary. The drive up was part of the fun.
The Chukar (Alectoris chukar) is a bird that was imported from Pakistan many years ago as a game bird. It has naturalized in dry mountainous parts of the United States. My wife photographed this one along the long driveway to the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho on June 14. This was our first time to see this bird.
My wife and I spent a couple of days at The Ridges Resort in Hiawassee, Georgia this week. Tuesday morning a green heron (Butorides virescens) on the hunt for breakfast joined me as I was having devotions by the lake. I took a break for a couple of photos when the heron showed up on the hunt. Read on to see if he was successful.
We’re heading back to Idaho in early June to meet a new grandson, who should arrive a couple of before weeks we get there (if he’s not, Lynn will probably have some harsh words for him.) In anticipation of the upcoming trip, I thought of the many Western Tanagers we saw while out there last year about the same time. Apparently the tanagers hanging around last year was due to the unusually late spring; too cold to move on to their normal summer territory. I don’t expect the same good fortune this year, and am grateful for last year’s opportunity. Here are a few photos.
The company I work for has recently built a large parking garage in downtown Chattanooga. I’ve been collecting photographs of the birds that are using the new shelter, or in at least one case, used a nearby streetlamp to take a rest. I watched this fellow for about 15 minutes as he watched the pedestrians walk by beneath him (or her.) Anyone want to help me with an ID? (Read on for a few more parking garage birds.)
I was raised on a dairy farm, and the American Crow was the enemy of our corn crop. One of my jobs – or maybe pastimes, because I enjoyed it – was hunting the crows to try to reduce the crop damage. Fortunately most of the crows survived - I was never a very good hunter, and the crows were smart. One of the things they did was to post a sentinel in a tree. This sentinel would raise a ruckus when it spotted me, and the flock would fly noisily away from the corn field, usually in the same number as they arrived.
This may be the city version of my sentinel crow, watching out for marauders. There are a couple more photos down the page…
The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is perhaps the best-known bird in the United States. Although it is migratory (take a look at that species epithet) and the winter range maps I’ve seen show it as not being a normal resident of North Georgia during the winter, we’ve had robins in our yard all winter this year in spite of it being a rather cold, snowy winter. I photographed robins in our yard in December 2010, and January and February of this year.
These pictures were taken last spring, however, not this winter. Every time I see this first photo, I’m struck at the eye crescents. I’m not really a very observant person unless at a particular circumstance I make a conscious choice, and honestly I’d never really noticed them before. More photos are included…
It’s interesting that while north Georgia is at the northern end of the range of this small bird, I only recall seeing it visit us during the winter. Either it’s attracted to our feeders during the winter due to reduced forage in the winter, or I’m just missing it. I’ve really enjoyed the visits.