We like to go to winter birding festivals - usually in warm Southern climes. January has been just awful in Kentucky - temps in the single digits with ice and snow. But we saw a notice for a new birding festival in Western Tennessee, at the lower end of Kentucky Lake. It's only about a 4 hour drive, assuming the weather cooperates, and the two speakers are some of our favorite people. Brian "Fox" Ellis does historical re-enactments of John James Audubon, Charles Darwin and others. This weekend he would attend as Audubon. Julie Zickefoose is an Ohio birding expert, bird rehabber, artist, author and singer! With stars like this we couldn't resist signing up for Wings in Winter at Paris Landing State Park.
Of course, the Bald Eagle numbers have rebounded in the last 25 years or so, and many of them either reside or come to winter on Kentucky Lake. We saw them perching in the trees, or sliding across the ice, hoping to nab a wounded duck.
When the geese started casually walking towards the corn stubble, it was easy to tell what made all those tracks! Once in a while, the Canada Geese would be joined by a Snow or Ross goose or some White-fronted Geese, so we had lots of variety.
We saw things I did not expect too, such as thousands of Red-winged Blackbirds in the fields along with the Grackles. I thought they all went much farther south in the winter.
Raptor numbers were good and we saw Harriers, Red Tails, Red Shoulders and Kestrels along with the Eagles.
We did NOT expect to find an armadillo, however. In Tennessee!? It ran across the road in the snow, leaving a trail of four footprints around a dragging tail mark.