Thursday, May 24, 2012


click photos to enlarge
I occasionally communicate with the TWRA Ornithologist via email.  Usually it is because I have a question about a certain species of bird I've found.  He mentioned that he was categorizing the locations of Tennessee's wading birds that reside around the lakes.  I've kept my eyes open for rookeries ever since.  I have turned up two rookeries on Douglas Lake that he wasn't aware of.  When I find rookeries, I document the GPS coordinates and mail him a photograph of my GPS screen.  This pin points the rookery location with precision. 
 Great Blue Herons nest in tall trees on these lakes in East Tennessee.  They do however, select nesting sites close to the grounds hidden in reed beds and thick brush near the waters edge.  I have never seen these ground nesting places used in Tennessee but, the colonies located high in the tallest trees are impressive.  The rookery I discovered today is a large one with nests not only located in obvious areas on trees but also on well camouflaged limbs close to the trunk of the trees.  

Shade and I made our way down the lake to our assigned work area all the while scanning the tops of trees on the shoreline for heron nests.

I have to admit that Douglas Lake has taken on the appearance of a normal East Tennessee lake where the water kisses the forest's edge and the mud shoreline is where its supposed to be - under water.  I was enjoying the ride for a change because "everything was beautiful."

I usually don't take Shade on hot days due to the fact that her coal black hair absorbs the sun's heat.  This boat has a roof to shade the deck area and there is a good breeze that blows across her as we speed down the water.  I brought plenty of ice water for her also.  She is a calm, relaxed dog when the boat is moving across the water.  She rides in the boat well.
When standing on the fore-deck her nose constantly twitches as she tests the air for smells.

We passed rock walls that used to blend into the mud shorelines.  Now, they contrast sharply with the water and forests and are beautiful to look upon.

He appeared out of nowhere.  Herons are secretive creatures.  It is possible to be looking directly at one and still not see it.  They display the ultimate patience when hunting by remaining immobile for long periods of time while waiting for a passing fish or a hopping frog. Small birds are fair game also.  Then a heron appeared high up on an old dead snag of a tree.  He appeared to be a sentinel.  Indeed, he was a sentinel for the rookery.

Behind him were trees filled with heron nests.  The trees were full of nests and many herons lounged upon the adjacent limbs.  Some were even in the nests.  This is a very large rookery that extends along the shoreline at least three hundred yards.

So, now you know what a heron rookery looks like.  Bet you're enlightened.  I usually find something of interest with every outing on the boat.  As I said before;  I have the best job in the world.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  Thanks for looking in.  See you next time.