Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"The Gulf Coast of Tennessee"

...As I'm told the late Don Manning dubbed it.

I finally made it to a Tennessee Ornithological Society meeting last weekend, in Clarksville, and had a great time putting faces and personalities to many names. And on Sunday we made an expedition to the Paris Landing - Big Sandy - Pace Point area, on Kentucky Lake just south of the Kentucky line. Pace Point is the location named in that Don Manning quote. We drove over 50 miles, but all the locations we visited were within about 4 miles of each other, often within line of sight. I tell ya, the place lived up to its nickname. For the day we had SIX (!) species of gulls, and large rafts of coots ducks, grebes, and loons. Plus some terns, a White-winged Scoter and three Am. White Pelicans for the closing act. For those who might have limited knowledge of U.S. Geography, Tennessee is landlocked and about 400 miles from the real Gulf coast. It's also 400+ miles from the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Coast, or any other major body of water. So congregations of waterbirds like this are a real treat here! For the record, the gulls were: Laughing, Franklin's, Bonaparte's Ring-billed, Herring, and Lesser Black-backed.

A note I made for the future: Even in interior North America, keep a good European field guide handy. Just try to find decent illustrations of all the various immature plumages of something like a Lesser Back-backed Gull in the American guides! Actually, it's not a bad idea to always have good worldwide guides for seabirds, gulls, and shorebirds available just in case. Even with our native North American species, these references usually have much more extensive detail on plumages, behavior, vocalizations, and potential confusions than you'll find in the American books.


At 9:25 AM, Blogger GB Hoyt said...

Wow, I'm impressed with the LBGU (did I get that right?), didn't think THAT would be there. All we've had at Hollingsworth (that I've seen) has been Ringers.


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