Kinglets are among the most active of woodland birds, which translates into being difficult to photograph! I have been trying to capture one of the Golden-crowned Kinglets at Radnor Lake for quite some time. Last week, a cold, drizzly day found me out on the trail with minimal company. The first kinglet was a tease, but finally, a mile or so later, I got my shot from a more amenable bird!
It’s been a balmy, damp Fall here in Tennessee. And even if the wildlife isn’t forthcoming during a hike, there is always something beautiful to revel in, like these mushrooms that almost seem to glow in the dimmed light.
But there is usually a Barred Owl to make the day even more special. Happy Solstice!
The summer brings an oppressive, torrid hush over the wooded areas of Tennessee. Almost jungle-like, the only creatures present seem to be the incessantly droning cicadas and languidly flapping butterflies. Gone are the dueling, bright warblers and exciting glimpses of migratory species.
But the species that call Tennessee home all year can be found by someone determined (and daft) enough to brave the heat, humidity, and myriad biting insects.
The Ghost of the Woods: The Barred Owl, unlike most of the members of its order, can often be seen during the day.
A young Pileated Woodpecker learns to fend for itself in the forest canopy.
And a mother Wood Duck keeps her ducklings close.
Despite the frustration of the onset of Spring migration and the confusion of trying to identify warbler songs not heard in a year – and the self-inflicted malady of “warbler neck”… there is still peace in the woods.
A Barred Owl diligently peruses the creek, and scoops up a crayfish lunch.
A female Northern Cardinal believes herself unseen in her not-so-hidden nest.
A Great Blue Heron balances on one leg, perhaps resting after a successful morning hunt.
And, even if the warblers don’t cooperate for pictures, the wildflowers are there, ever lovely.
As a lifelong birder and raptor fan, it seemed I was always frustrated in my quest to see a Barred Owl. When I lived in South Florida, I frequented the Everglades, where I saw many incredible birds. But despite hearing the haunting “Who-cooks-for-you?” call drift across the swamps, I never had a sighting.
That bad luck seemed to follow me to Tennessee, where multiple unseen owls screamed daily across the tree-filled Hollow where I lived. I even made a couple of trips to Radnor Lake, a place where, aside from its many other charms, Barred Owls are almost guaranteed.
Well, the third time was truly a charm! Since my first magical sighting of an apparently unconcerned owl sitting next to the path, I have been blessed with an owl almost every visit. This past weekend, another wish was fulfilled – to see one hunting! I watched this owl stalking the streams, coming up with a staple of the Barred Owl diet – crayfish! It may not be as spectacular as watching a Peregrine Falcon’s plunge or a Golden Eagle’s swoop, but I enjoyed every minute.
Insectivorous species that would normally not come to seed feeders will approach suet, and if times are lean, fights will ensue! This leads to some awesome sightings, as well as fascinating interactions. Species seen at suet include the ubiquitous woodpeckers, wrens, mockingbirds, and the occasional warbler.
It surprised me, when I moved to Tennessee, how cold it can get here. Originally from Pennsylvania, it seems that driving 12 hours south would put you in a warmer climate. But the growing zone is the same here as for my native Philadelphia.
One thing we usually don’t get here is snow, but the last 2 weeks saw more than our share. My life-long hobby of feeding the birds amped up considerably due to the frozen, covered ground. When I walked outside recently to chase a passing grackle hoard off the feeders, the resident songbirds, more used to my presence, provided me with some great photo opportunities.