Trip Report

Rankin Bottoms, TN


September 6, 2020

Guide: Kevin Burke

This years Rankin Bottoms trip was a little different than other years. The water levels were higher due to the Labor Day holiday. There were still plenty of opportunities to see some great birds. We arrived at Rankin Bottoms around 8:30 in the morning and the birds were very active at the entrance. NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, TREE, and BARN SWALLOWS buzzed our heads. Our first of dozens of GREAT EGRETS came into view. An OSPREY flew by and caught a fish in front of us. INDIGO BUNTINGS, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, and a SUMMER TANAGER flitted about in the trees. The entrance to the bottoms is always productive as a first stop.

Moving a little further down the slough we entered the main part of Rankin Bottoms and started to see more wading birds. GREEN HERONS foraged around the banks. The DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were flying by and foraging in the slough. One cormorant looked a little different. It was young bird with a chocolaty brown breast and a nice white line under the bill. Upon further inspection it was a tad smaller than the other cormorants and had a long tail, it was a NEOTROPIC CORMORANT. A great bird! Looking further down the slough, we saw five EGYPTIAN GEESE of unknown origin. They were tame, pointing to escaped birds. We walked down the road and encountered many butterflies including: MONARCH, VICEROY, EASTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAIL, and COMMON BUCKEYE to name a few.

The day was heating up, so we decided to find some shade for lunch. Eating lunch, we were serenaded by a WHITE-EYED VIREO and a NORTHERN PARULA. We travelled a little way away after lunch to Dutch Bottoms. This is typically a good area in the winter for ducks, but this time of year if the water is down it can have great habitat for shorebirds. We had several RING-BILLED GULLS flyover. A BALD EAGLE soared by us over the open water. A chance encounter with two flyover COMMON RAVENS was an unexpected sight. They seemed a little out of range from there more normal high elevation home. We ended the day with the last new bird of the day being a SCARLET TANAGER.

This was a fun day. The weather in East Tennessee this day was perfect. The temp never got above 82 degrees. Which is almost unheard of this time of year! I am looking forward to going back again next year.

Rankin Bottoms, TN – Shorebirds
September 6, 2020

Species encountered: 54 species

Wood Duck
Ruffed Grouse (Heard)
Northern Bobwhite (Heard)
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Kingbird
Alder Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo (Heard)
Blue Jay

American Crow

    Common Raven (Heard)
    Northern Rough-winged Swallow
    Tree Swallow
    Barn Swallow
    Golden-crowned Kinglet
    Red-breasted Nuthatch
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
    Tufted Titmouse
    Brown Creeper (Heard)
    Winter Wren
    Carolina Wren
    European Starling
    Gray Catbird
    Eastern Bluebird
    Hermit Thrush
    American Robin
    Cedar Waxwing

    House Finch
    Red Crossbill (Heard)
    Pine Siskin
    American Goldfinch
    Dark-eyed Junco
    Chipping Sparrow
    Field Sparrow
    Song Sparrow
    Eastern Towhee
    Orchard Oriole
    Red-winged Blackbird
    Common Grackle
    Yellow Warbler
    Chestnut-sided Warbler
    Yellow-rumped Warbler
    Canada Warbler
    Common Yellowthroat
    Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Indigo Bunting