While my wife and I were in Venice, Florida for a family visit, we took the opportunity for a couple of trips down the road to the Venice Rookery. There we got to watch cormorants feasting on catfish in the pond. Here are a few photos and a video.
The weathermen missed the January event – it snowed and iced a lot further north than they expected. They hedged their bets on this one – the governor of Georgia even declared an emergency before the first snowflake fell. But one thing is assured – when it snows, the birds will make a visit to our yard because my wife keeps the feeder full. Here are a few images from some of the birds that were about while I made my foray into the snow.
We had an unexpected snow event – we were expecting some flurries, but the northern edge of the line of precipitation was further north than expected. The snow and cold has the birds busy gathering calories, and with a full feeder in our yard it was a popular place. Here are a few photos.
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus – several of these are regular visitors to our feeders most of the year.
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.
The Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is pretty shy. This is typical of how it positioned itself.
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.
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus – along the Riverwalk near Amnicola Marsh
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.)
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.