see previous post) with some Sandhill cranes. I saw four Bald Eagles (two of which were immature) in the distance and two immature Red-shouldered Hawks – all were too far away to take a decent photograph of them.
I then drove around and across the Hwy 58 Bridge to the other side of the Hiwassee River where I was able to walk to the edge of a field with thousands of Sandhill Cranes. On my way back I took a photo of a Northern Harrier that flew across the road nearly at eye level no more than ten yards from my car.
When I returned to the TWRA viewing area it was late in the day. After spending a couple hours there, I decided it was time to find lodging for the night.
Early the next mourning I drove to the end of old Blythe Ferry Road on the west side of the Tennessee River. I spent a couple hours there taking photos of several hundred Sandhill Cranes that had congregated along a backwater area for the night. Later I would learn from Cyndi Routledge that a Whooping Crane was spotted during that time on Hiwassee Island from the bluff viewing area at the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park. Cyndi was able to take some magnificent shots of this highly endangered bird.
She introduced me to David Trintly and Mike Nelson (both are expert birders) from Knoxville, informing me that they too would be going on the boat tour along with Cyndi and Steve Routledge from Clarksville.
At noon we headed for the boat dock at Sale Creek (Hamilton County). We boarded the Blue Moon for our river tour. I would highly recommend taking the cruise!
During the trip we saw thousands of Sandhill Cranes (8-10 thousand), several thousand Mallards around the island, a lot of pairs of Bufflehead, a very dark Peregrine Falcon, some Herons, Cormarants and a Mute Swan.
American Black Duck
Canvasback - 39
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle - 28 imm - 7 ad
This Thursday (January the 20th) the Wildlife Committee of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission (TWRC) will vote on their recommendations concerning whether Tennessee should initiate a hunting season on Sandhill Cranes in the winter of 2011/12.
The Committee's recommendations will most likely determine the outcome of the full Commission vote on January 21st.
The Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS) believes that "the fall arrival and over-wintering of tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes in Tennessee should be celebrated as a wildlife spectacle and a Watchable Wildlife viewing opportunity.”
Please plan to attend the TWRC Wildlife Committee meeting at TWRA at 1:00pm in Nashville on Thursday at the Region II Ray Bell Office Building, 5105 Edmondson Pike 37211 on the Ellington Ag Center campus.
A large number of hunters and their supporters are expected to attend this meeting. We need a large turn out to show the Commission that there is serious opposition to making the Sandhill Crane a "game bird."
From I-65 south of downtown Nashville, take the Harding Place exit (78-A) and go east. Just past the railroad overpass, turn right (south) at the light onto Trousdale Drive. Stay on Trousdale until you come to a 4-way stop at Hogan Road. Turn left onto Hogan and continue to a "T" intersection at Marchant Drive. Instead of going through the Ellington gates here, turn right onto Marchant and follow it through the center to a 3-way stop. Turn left and the Region II Office Building will be the first building on the right, the one with the bright green roof.
If you're coming from Edmondson Pike on the east side of Ellington, after coming through the gates of Ellington and getting to the 3-way stop, go straight, and the Region II office will be the first building on the right.