It was frosty in Tennessee this morning as Penny and I toured the nearly-vacant grounds of the Harrison Bay State Park. She could race off leash over massive parking lots and playing fields. It’s fun to imagine the thousands that visit it on a summer day.
Eight or ten Eastern Bluebirds greeted us, starting the day off well. Kinglets, warblers, woodpeckers, and several noisy Carolina Wrens were out and about.
We buttoned up the rig and were off to deal with the traffic of Chattanooga, then Birmingham, then Tuscaloosa, before hitting the Mississippi line and heading down to Clarko State Park. The trip was fairly easy and without incidents. I must say that Alabama drivers are a lot like Mass. drivers: to signal a lane change is a sign of weakness. And yahoos in the South who text or talk on cells drive just erratically as their northern kind.
I had time for one last birding outing with Penny this year so once I got the Airstream settled, off we went. We have been here before and found the birding good. Today was no exception – no sooner had I headed out when we flushed an owl just 50 yards from our site. It flew right in front of me and I tried to make it a Short-eared but the habitat was wrong and then it perched and it was obviously a Barred Owl – still a neat bird. The bird was obscured by branches which drove the auto-focus crazy but I got a shot for the record:
We had a nice mix of birds but the final ones were the best: very active Pileated Woodpeckers beating the heck out of pines. They are so much fun to watch and these were so busy that they seemed to ignore us. The flash of their red is spectacular. Here is a poor shot through the trees:
So we end 2013 – a year that I missed several months of birding due to injuries to my neck and my knee. It will be fun to use eBird to analyze my results for the year and set some goals for 2014. With new states of AZ, NM, and CA up ahead, it should be a good year. I hope it will be for you.