Friday, December 29, 2006


I did the Buffalo River Christmas Bird Count (Lawrenceburg) yesterday, with Damien Simbeck in a nice territory around Laurel Hill Lake, Laurel Hill WMA, and some open farm lands. Nothing especially rare, probably the best find was a lingering House Wren. We had a total of 63 species, with I think 75 for the count as a whole. Respectable totals for a small count (6 parties) far inland with very little water.

At one point while we were sorting through sparrows and looking for the source of the Eurasian Collared Dove calls we were hearing, we glanced back over at the cows behind us and noticed a wet, wobbly calf. On closer inspection, we discovered that he still had pink, dripping umbilical cord dangling from his belly, and momma was in the midst of passing the afterbirth. Apparently we had been so wrapped up in the birds we failed to notice a cow giving birth right behind us! I had vaguely noticed a pickup leaving that farm a short while before. This left us wondering why the farmer had been leaving his laboring cow, rather than tending to her. I got even more perplexed when I noticed a hugely pregnant cow right next to the calf and new momma who was down in the ground. I'm not a cattleman, but I do seem to remember that a full-term pregnant cow on the ground is bad, and that during calving season the cows aren't generally left unattended for very long. Maybe the farmer had been heading out to get some help for his down cow? We'll never know.

Earlier in the day we saw one of the more inexplicable sights I can recall from my years in the woods. Damien spotted it first: an antlerless deer in the woods wearing a custom-fitted blaze orange vest, and about a dozen yards away, a man in full camo with a rifle who was not wearing orange! The deer was walking around, it was not one of those fancy computerized animatronic decoys used to catch poachers. What on earth was that about? Was it a pet deer? Was it a doe in rut being used to bait bucks? And if he was worried about his deer getting shot, why wasn't he worried about getting shot himself?? And why was all this happening within plain sight of a public road? More things we will probably never know.

Damien hinted that I'll likely inherit this CBC area as my own next year, and he will move to another territory than needs more coverage. So, now that I have BBS routes and a CBC territory of my own, have attended a TOS meeting, and have started actually paying attention to my Tennessee list, I guess my transplantation is complete and I am now an official Tennessee Birder, not just an unrooted immigrant.


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