Sunday, March 31, 2013


all shots taken with 150 -500 mm Sigma Tele

I have been attempting to learn to identify the various small birds I see daily.  I've got the wading birds and ducks down pretty well, but the tiny warblers, sparrows and finches are difficult.  To be more precise - sparrows are driving me totally nuts.  Most sparrows are so similar that identification is more difficult.  I have procured the most prestigious bird field guides and I am still having difficulty.  I attempted to photograph some sparrows today for later ID purposes.  I've been able to identify only one.  The other two are so similar to other illustrations in the guides that I am at a loss.  I will post all of them here on this entry and promise to identify them in the near future.  If any readers know the Id's - please leave a message in the comments section at the end of this blog.  I'm not giving up on sparrow identification.  I know what a swamp sparrow, white throated sparrow and white crowned sparrow looks like and that's the extent of my sparrow knowledge.  I'm not even sure what a common house sparrow is anymore.  I have posted extensively sparrow shots below in my further attempts to totally bore you to death.  First it was bald eagles and then turkeys.  Canada Geese are coming on strong as a third over posted bird.  Now, the diminutive, little sparrow.  In error already.  I thought the little bird below was a sparrow.  It's a carolina wren.  Man!
This is a terrorist carolina wren known for flying directly into camera lenses and taking out the sensitive light sensor of the camera rendering the camera useless.  Also known as the kamikaze carolina wren.

All the shots above are of the carolina wren.   It has a buff colored breast and the white stripe behind its eye that continues to the back of the head.  Most sparrows have a marking behind, above or below the eye in various shades of gray, brown or buff.  I mistook the Carolina wren for a sparrow.   Like I said - identification is tough.   

The bird above and below is a white throated sparrow.  His markings are unique to him.  He's a really pretty bird when compared to most sparrows.  Note the white plumage on his throat in the shot directly below:

The next sparrow has me baffled also.  I looked at the chipping sparrow and its a close matchup, but I doubt that is the proper Id.  

He doesn't' have any white circle around the eyes, nor does he have the stripe down the center of his crown.  There is no patch of white on his breast but, he has the barred striping that starts fading on his breast and sweeps back to his sides.  So do other sparrow species.  ARRGGG!  Also - just had this little guy identified.  He is a song sparrow.  I knew that.  Really I did.  I was testing everyone.

The two birds below need no introduction:

And, last but not least is our old favorite - the turkey.

I've probably succeeded in totally boring you once again.  I hope not.  This is sort of like a radio.  Radios have an off button.  Computers can scroll through the boring stuff.  Birds are very interesting to me and I can get carried away sometimes.  I promise to get the sparrows identified very soon.  I've sent off an express email to the best birder in Tennessee and I know she will nail it down.  
I'll be back on the Holston River in the morning and I hope to see some beaver or otter.  I promise not to photograph too many Canada Geese until they have their chicks.  Soon we'll be looking at the geese, merganser, wood duck, green and blue wing teal ducks and their babies.  You'll love that I'm sure. Otter and beaver babies should be prone to be photographed also.   Something tells me there will be a smattering of wild turkey babies in there too.  Thanks for keeping tabs on me.  I appreciate you.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


The river was in rare form this morning.  The various ducks normally seen were off somewhere else.  The prominent bird was the Canada Goose.  I didn't scrutinize the shorelines as usual because I was busy with the job.  Fishermen were out today.  A warm springtime day does that.  The pictures collected today are nothing more than a reminder of a nice morning spent on the river with most  photos being geese, and there is a new squirrel on the block.  I'll keep the comments at a minimum because the photos speak for themselves.


The South end of a great blue heron

Silhouette of a young, bald eagle (shot at great distance)

She is sitting tight - close to the ground as she lays her eggs.  Take note to the tufts of plumage she has plucked from her underside to line the shallow nest that she will deposit her eggs in.

She watches me intently as I drift past in the boat.  She flattens herself close to the ground to appear as part of her surroundings in her attempt to go unnoticed.
 There will be baby geese all over this river soon.

Nothing need be said.  He's a scamp, as all squirrels are.

The following pictures are of a goose that was ducking completely under water as if he was bathing.  He would stand tall and flap his wings very hard to rid them of water and immediately plunge his entire head and neck under water repetitively.  He was a hoot to watch!

Who says animals don't take fun breaks from the survival game?
Big beaver!  Mighty big beaver!

And last but not least is the only eagle nest on this end of the river.  The mom is in the nest.  You can see her head if you look closely.  The dad appeared just after I took a couple pictures of the nest.  This nest is entirely too far away to get good pictures.  I just wanted to verify an adult on the nest.
This nest will be totally hidden by foliage in a couple more weeks.  That's a good thing but, I'm sorry I won't be able to photograph the babies.
The male appears at the nest in the next shots.  You can see his wings as he approaches the nest.

Heavy rain is moving in tonight and is to last a couple days.  Rain puts the stops to the photography for the most part.  I hope you enjoyed some of these shots and I'll see you soon.  Thanks for being there.