More Birds from Rankin Bottoms

sm4him

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I discovered this place in mid-March; it is supposed to be one of the premier bird-watching spots in East Tennessee and it has definitely lived up to that so far! The downsides to this place? It's a little far--about an hour's drive--so I can't just pop over there for a few hours after work. The much BIGGER downside is the one I discovered last Thursday--I may not even be able to access my favorite part of it pretty soon!

The wildlife management area is located on the edge of Douglas Lake, along the French Broad River and near Douglas Dam. As TVA begins to bring the water level of the lake up, as they have now started to do, much of the area where I've been bird-watching will be completely submerged. I've been told that from May through July, there are many times when even the main road through the area is completely submerged! So, I'm going to have to go on some scouting trips to see if I can find anywhere nearby that is even remotely as good as this spot. Otherwise, I'll probably not make the drive once it really floods over, until next August.

So, I'm trying to get there every chance I get right now...which isn't going to be a lot in the next few weeks. When I went last Thursday, the water was just beginning to rise a little. When I returned on Saturday, it was up significantly from where it had been, and the fish that had been swept in from the lake were *literally* jumping out of the water! It sounded like a babbling brook, but it was actually the sound of BIG fish jumping around everywhere. Like these:



And the dumb fishermen were WAY up further on the shore, about 1/2 mile from where I was. :D

Anyway--had a good day, but mostly dreamed about the time when I'll have a longer lens. :D Here's some of my favorites from the day. As always, C&C, general banter and witty comments are greatly appreciated!

1. Near miss. Saw two Osprey dive for fish right in front of me, but BOTH were just too far away for the 70-300 to handle. This is about the best I got out of it, but it was still fun to watch:

April13_5875editweb by sm4him, on Flickr

2. This little guy flew past me and into a tree and if I hadn't paid attention, I would have thought it was just a songbird, or a dove. It was about the size of an American Robin, but it looked more like a sparrow from a distance. It was a Merlin, which I've never actually seen before:
It let me get pretty close before it took off.

April13_6130editweb by sm4him, on Flickr

3. There were juvenile bald eagles EVERYwhere. I lost count at about 9--saw seven perched in trees all in the same area. Then I came on THIS guy, who let me get REALLY close and didn't seem to care a whit about my presence. When he DID finally take off, I think it was more because he went after something than because of me.


4. Anyone know what THIS is about? He would keep doing this, spreading his wings and then just sitting there with them out, for several minutes at a time. Then he'd fold them back in and sit a while longer, and then do it again. I wondered if it was trying to attract a mate, but haven't seen anything online about them doing this.

April13_6045editweb by sm4him, on Flickr

5. Take off--I like the one little feather falling from him as he leaves, but is it just distracting?

April13_6047editweb by sm4him, on Flickr

6. This was a different juvenile eagle who came in to perch and then realized I was there:

April13_6203editweb by sm4him, on Flickr

That's enough for one thread. I'll post another thread later with some of the non-raptors.
 

jwbryson1

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#3 is $$$$. Great shot Sharon. I love this image and his intense gaze. Tres kewl.
 

mishele

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It looks like you're having a ton of fun out there! I agree #3 is money. Keep em coming!!
 

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