Bald Eagle (adult) TNBald Eagle (adult) TNBald Eagle (adult) TN Birding along the Greenway Birds at Blythe's Ferry Boat Landing Black-crowned Night- Heron (imm) Chickamauga Brainerd Levee, Greenway Cranes at Hiwassee NWR Cranes on the River Crane Watchers Ducks at Brainerd Levee Red-shouldered Hawk Red-tailed Hawk Sandhill Cranes (close) Sandhill Cranes (pair) Sandhill Cranes Sandhill Cranes Coming in to Land
  • Bald Eagle (adult) TN
  • Birding along the Greenway
  • Birds at Blythe's Ferry Boat Landing
  • Black-crowned Night- Heron (imm)
  • Chickamauga Brainerd Levee, Greenway
  • Cranes at Hiwassee NWR
  • Cranes on the River
  • Crane Watchers
  • Ducks at Brainerd Levee
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Sandhill Cranes (close)
  • Sandhill Cranes (pair)
  • Sandhill Cranes
  • Sandhill Cranes Coming in to Land

 

Trip Report


Trip Report for Winter Birding Venture

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Hiawassee, Brainerd Levee, Chickamauga Dam, and TN Aquarium

January 30 – February 1, 2015

Leader: Simon Thompson

 

 

Sandhill Cranes (pair)

    It’s always wintry when we do our winter crane trip to Tennessee and this year again it was no exception. Icy ponds and frosty fields all added to the winter crane experience. We all drove to meet in Chattanooga before heading out for lunch and the afternoon birding activity at Brainerd Levee; an easy walk along the Chickamauga Greenway. This birding spot is always good for waterfowl and we easily found Green-winged Teal and Gadwall, a pair of Hooded Mergansers and several spectacularly-plumaged Northern Shoveler. Several Wilson’s Snipe attempted to camouflage themselves in the dry grass around the water edges, but they were not too successful.Black-crowned Night-Heron (imm)

 

 

    A Red-shouldered Hawk was hunting nearby and allowed for some great photo opportunities and surprisingly, at least 10 Palm Warblers were feeding along the grassy embankments. This semi-hardy warbler usually winters farther south in the sunny climes of Florida and the Caribbean, but this small flock had obviously decided to stay north. A single Rusty Blackbird perched atop a distant tree, but alas, did not come any closer. This bird’s population has crashed by about 85% over the last 10 years and has become quite uncommon throughout much of its winter range.

 

Red-shouldered Hawk    

     The wintering flocks of Sandhill Cranes are the star attraction in the area and the following morning found us birding the picturesque Old MacDonald Farm in rural Hamilton County. It was very atmospheric with the old farm buildings and rolling fields, plus family group after family group of Sandhill Cranes flew in over us to feed in a fallow cornfield; a wonderful sight and more so when the cranes gave their bugling calls as they flew overhead.

 

 

Red-tailed Hawk

    

 

     The nearby Hiwassee National Wildlife Refuge is the birding destination in the area. Here the cranes feed in the roadside fields where the farmers leave spilled grain for the wintering birds. Thousands of these stately birds were in view from the viewing area and it was odd to see them walking uphill rather than flying. Many of the birds were in family groups of 2 adults and a single youngster, which could be identified by the ginger feathering on the head and neck. At one stage a distant agricultural cannon was fired only to have the sky filled with cranes – what a sight and sound.

 

Sandhill Cranes

    We decided to spend our last morning at the wonderful Tennessee Aquarium where we were lucky enough to get a “behind the scenes” tour to meet the penguins. Noodle was quite the star as she allowed us to enjoy her presence and take close-up photographs……very cool indeed. After lunch in Chattanooga’s very enjoyable downtown it was then our 4 hour back to Asheville in the rain, but we had a great trip with thousands of cranes, some great ducks and close encounters with penguins. Thanks to all of our friends at the Chattanooga aquarium for a wonderful visit- as always.

 

 

      

Simon Thompson

Birds seen or heard on our

Winter Birding Venture
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Hiawassee, Brainerd Levee, Chickamauga Dam, and TN Aquarium

January 30 – February 1, 2015

 

Birds seen and heard

(H) = Heard only

 

 

Canada Goose
Gadwall
Mallard
Northern Shoveler (60+)
Green-winged Teal (100+)
Canvasback (75+)
Redhead (45+)
Lesser Scaup
White-winged Scoter (2)
Bufflehead (2)
Common Goldeneye (15+)
Common Loon (8)
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe (30+)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron (1)
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle (1 adult)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (2)
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk     
American Coot

Sandhill Crane (5,000 +)

Killdeer

Wilson’s Snipe (12)

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull (2)

Bonaparte’s Gull (5)

Rock Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove (3)

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker (1)

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2)

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel (2)

Eastern Phoebe

Blue Jay

American Crow 

Carolina Chickadee       

Tufted Titmouse           

Brown-headed Nuthatch (3)

Carolina Wren (H)

Golden-crowned Kinglet (2)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1)
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush (H)
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

American Pipit (30+)
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler (12)
Eastern Towhee (H)
Field Sparrow (1)
Savannah Sparrow (2)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (H)
White-throated Sparrow (2)
White-crowned Sparrow (12)
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Brown-headed Cowbird (10+)
Rusty Blackbird (1)
House Finch

House Sparrow