|Me at Wheeler Dam. Photo by Vickie Henderson.|
The rain wasn't nearly bad as predicted, which I was grateful for. The weather was unseasonably warm, setting record highs. The trouble with unseasonable weather is that the birds behave unpredictably. In this case, many of the ordinary waterfowl just weren't there, or weren't present in the numbers we had been promised. I had expected to see thousands of ducks in one place. Still, I can't complain too much-- I saw 86 species total and got 5 lifebirds: Greater White-fronted Goose, Lesser Scaup, American White Pelican, Lapland Longspur, and Rusty Blackbird.
One of my favorite sightings was at the lower level of Wheeler Dam, when two Great Scaup and one Lesser Scaup came in close enough for us to study the distinctions between these two very similar species. The lesser has a narrower bill with a smaller nail, and its head comes to more of a point. I improved my duck identification skills in general, especially since most of the birds were at a distance. I saw American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Redhead, about a thousand Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflead, Common Goldeneye, and Ruddy Duck, among others.
I only had my iPhone with me, so I didn't get any good pictures of the birds. I did get a shot of a gravel path we traveled between two lanes of I-65:
|Under I-65, north of TN River|