Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Shorebirds and butterflies...

...have lousy taste in habitat.

Many butterflies, as anyone who indulges in the time-honored country pleasure of "watering the trees" in his own yard is aware, are especially drawn to urine and other "waste products." And shorebirds, well, we all know the sorts of places THEY like to hang out when migrating through the landlocked regions (nose plugs, anyone?).

I finally found a local shorebird hotspot today. I've been questing for one since July. First I checked out the Busseltown unit of the Tennessee NWR for the second time -- nary a one, not even a Killdeer. Last time there was at least one single Least Sandpiper. Later today on the way to shopping in Columbia I checked out the phosphate tailings areas northwest of that town. The facility is now owned, posted, and fenced off by "Solutia." Once they had a wildlife viewing area, but we are in a brave new world of strip mining now, environmental consciousness be damned. There were still two roadside pullouts where ponds could be glimpsed -- some Great Egrets, cormorants, a Great Blue, no shorebirds. Then, wandering the backroads looking for anything promising, I came suddenly across a horribly muddy hog-filled farm pond; an oversize hog wallow, really. With a ton of Canada Geese on it. And a shoreline bedecked with Killdeer after Killdeer. And, sure enough, in the smelliest, yuchiest spot in Maury County other than the MacDonalds in the Super Mall-Wart... Pectoral, Western, Solitary Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs... all lined up for easy viewing.

At least it is in a pretty hollow along a scenic backroad, since I'll be visiting it now every time I go to Columbia!


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