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Tennessee & Virginia

13th October 1987 - 23rd October 1987. 

13th October.

The previous evening Dave Tombs and I had arrived in Townsend, Tennessee, at the start of a sound recording trip for the first programme in a new BBC series called 'Land of the Eagle'. Timed for the hight of the fall/autumn colours in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we were here to record species and atmospheres, which we soon found challenging due to the popularity of the park. New species for me will be in bold.

Tennessee 07a, Great Smoky Mts,

Today we drove around the National Park to find good places to record. Near the motel in Townsend there were a couple of interesting spots where we saw 4 Song Sparrows, 6 Mallard, a Belted Kingfisher, a Cooper's Hawk and 4 American Goldfinches.

Our first stop was the Park Headquarters to let them know we had arrived, what we hoped to do and any info on the quieter parts of the park. Here we saw 2 Pine Warblers, 5 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Turkey Vulture, a Northern Cardinal, a Tufted Titmouse, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, an American Robin and several American Crows.

Then we drove through the forest to Greenbrier Cove, they use the term cove to describe an open grassy area, of which there are several of differing sizes in the park. Here we saw a Turkey Vulture, a Brown Creeper, 2 Carolina Chickadees, an Eastern Phoebe, an Acadian Flycatchers, a Downy Woodpecker, a Solitary now called Blue-headed Vireo, a Bay-breasted Warbler, 2 Blackburnian Warblers, 2 Cooper's Hawks and an Eastern Grey Squirrel.

We continued towards Gatlinburg, stopping to watch 2 Black Bear cubs at the side of the road from the car. There were several other cars, but nobody got out as the mother must have been close-by although we didn't see her.

Then to Cades Cove, the largest and most popular of the coves, where we saw several White-tailed Deer, 4 Woodchucks, a Yellow Warbler, a Myrtle Warbler, 6 Chipping Sparrows and a Pine Warbler.

Views in the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park.

Top right: view of Cades Cove.

Tennessee 11a, Great Smoky Mts,
Tennessee 13a, Great Smoky Mts,

14th October.

We started today at Cades Cove seeing a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Blue Jays, White-tailed Deer, 4 Pileated Woodpeckers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, 4 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, a Magnolia Warbler, a Bay-breasted Warbler, an Eastern Wood Pewee, 10+ Tufted Titmice, a Brown Creeper, a White-breasted Nuthatch, several Carolina Chickadees and an Eastern Fence Lizard.

We found a place away from the Cove and while Dave was recording atmospheres, I had a walk along a nearby track, as I rounded a bend there was a Black Bear walking up the track towards me, I returned to the car - hastily.

Later, we drove along the Foothills Parkway, where the best views across the park are obtained, a little early for the best woodland colours, but a lot of trees had changed. Here we saw 2 Song Sparrows, 2 Turkey Vultures and a Willow Flycatcher.

We returned to Townsend where locally we saw 2 Tennessee Warblers, a Song Sparrow, a Common Yellowthroat, 6 American Goldfinches, a Nashville Warbler and 2 Myrtle Warblers.

Then a late afternoon return to the Foothills Parkway seeing 4 Carolina Chickadees, a Red-cockaded Woodpecker and a Carolina Wren.

Dave 04a, Great Smoky Mts, Tennessee, 10
Tennessee 17a, Great Smoky Mts,
Tennessee 20a, Great Smoky Mts,
Tennessee 19a, Great Smoky Mts,

Dave Tombs recording near Cades Cove, the other photos taken from the Foothills Parkway.

15th October.

In Townsend there was a Belted Kingfisher, then we drove along the Foothills Parkway seeing 6 Blue Jays, 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, a Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, 2 Carolina Wrens, a Northern Cardinal, 2 White-throated Sparrows, 6 Chipping Sparrows, 2 White-breasted Nuthatches, a Peregrine, 3 Myrtle Warblers, a Great Blue Heron, 2 Grey Catbirds and a Turkey Vulture.

We went to Cades Cove, but too many people, we did see a Woodchuck and another Turkey Vulture. Then we drove around trying to find a quiet place, at Parson's Branch Road there was a Hairy Woodpecker and an Eastern Chipmunk, and along Highway 129 we saw a Turkey Vulture, a Black Vulture, Blue Jays, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmice, Song Sparrows and a Swamp Sparrow.

Photos taken from the Foothills Parkway.

Tennessee 22a, Great Smoky Mts,
Tennessee 23a, Great Smoky Mts,
Tennessee 16a, Great Smoky Mts,
Tennessee 14a, Great Smoky Mts,

16th October.

Again we started along the Foothills Parkway and nearby areas, seeing an American Golden Plover, Blue Jays, 3 Carolina Wrens, 6+ American Goldfinches, 3 Northern Cardinal, White-throated and Song Sparrows, 4 Common Flickers, 3 Palm Warblers, a Downy Woodpecker, 2 Turkey Vultures and a few Savannah Sparrows.

The we went to Laurel Lake where there was a Alder Flycatcher, an Eastern Phoebe, c15 American Goldfinches, 3 Common Flickers, Song Sparrows, a Swamp Sparrow and 4 Killdeers.

We returned to Townsend and explored the farmland outside of the town, where we found an Eastern Phoebe, 3 Tufted Titmice, 2 Myrtle Warblers, a Belted Kingfisher, a Common Flicker, a Northern Cardinal, a Carolina Wren, 2 American Goldfinches and 2 Starlings.

Later, we returned to Laurel Lake seeing much the same again, plus a Great Crested Flycatcher.

Right: in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Below: Laurel Lake.

Tennessee 01a, Laurel Lake, Townsend, 10
Tennessee 04a, Great Smoky Mts,

17th October.

A quick look around Townsend before we left, seeing a Common Flicker, 4 American robins, 8 Starlings and a Blue Jay.

Then a long drive east to Virginia, to a motel in Chincoteague. 

Photo taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Tennessee 24a, Great Smoky Mts,

18th October.

The next stage of our sound recording trip was to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, where our main target was Snow Geese.

Snow Goose 06a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg

Our first full day in the reserve, seeing 8 Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Ring-billed Gulls, lots of Double-crested Cormorants, a Sandwich now Cabot's Tern, c500 Snow Geese, lots of Canada Geese, lots of Black Ducks, Mallard, Great Blue Herons, Great or Great White Egrets, 2 American White Pelicans, Forster's Terns, lots of Sanderlings, American Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, Greater Yellowlegs, 18 American Oystercatchers, 5 Royal Terns, 3 Grey Plovers, Dunlin, Laughing Gulls, Semipalmated Plovers, Brown-headed Cowbirds, 6 Chipping Sparrows, an Osprey, a Northern Harrier, 2 Black Skimmers and 4 Sika Deer.

Osprey 01a, Virginia, 18-10-87.jpg
Great Blue Heron 02a, Virginia, 18-10-87

Snow Geese, Osprey and Great Blue Heron.

Great Egret 03a, Virginia, 19-10-87.jpg
Sika Deer 01a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg

Great Egret and Sika Deer.

19th October.

All day in the reserve mainly watching the Snow Geese movements and trying to predict where to place the microphones.

During the day we saw 2 Night Herons, 4 Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plovers, Sanderling, Myrtle Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Boat-tailed Grackles, 800+ Double-crested Cormorants, c1000 Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Forster's Terns, 2 Royal Terns, Ring-billed Gulls, an Osprey, Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, White-tailed Deer, Sika Deer, 2 Fox Squirrels of the subspecies Delmarva, 2 Peregrines, 6 Ruddy Duck, 2 Gadwall, 2 Northern Harriers, Caspian Terns, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, Song Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbirds, a Lesser Yellowlegs, a Pectoral Sandpiper, a Tundra Swan, an Eastern Meadowlark, 6 Bobwhite Quails, an immature Tricoloured Heron, Grey Plovers, 2 Marbled Godwits, Turnstones, Dunlin, 2 Cattle Egrets and a Merlin.

Snow Goose 03a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg
Dave 02a, Chincoteague, Maryland, 10_87.
Snow Goose 04a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg
Dave 01a, by car, Chincoteague, Maryland
Snow Goose 05a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg

Snow Geese, Dave putting out the microphone and waiting for the geese to return.

20th October.

All day in the reserve again, seeing 2 Brown-headed Nuthatches, Fox Squirrels, 2 Brown Thrashers, Myrtle Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Northern Cardinals, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, Eastern Towhees, 8 Fish Crows, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Fox Sparrow, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a Blue-headed Vireo, lots of Common Grackles, a Nashville Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackles, Carolina Wrens, lots of White-throated Sparrows, c400 Canada Geese, c1500 Snow Geese, a Hairy Woodpecker, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Caspian Tern, 7 Ruddy Ducks, a Redhead, Grey Plovers, Western and Least Sandpipers, Turnstones, Semipalmated Plovers, Double-crested Cormorants, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, a Black Rat Snake, 3 Mourning Doves, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Seaside Sparrow, a Magnolia Warbler, Ring-billed Gulls, American Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, a Tundra Swan, a Bobwhite, 2 Gadwall, Forster's Terns, Black Ducks, Mallards, Starlings, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Greater Yellowlegs, lots of Red-winged Blackbirds, a Muskrat, a Northern Harrier, 8 Night Herons and towards evening we heard, but couldn't see 6 Clapper Rails in one of the marshes.

Egrets american 01a, Virginia, 22-10-87.
Great Egret 02a, Virginia, 19-10-87.jpg
Egrets american 02a, Virginia, 22-10-87.
Snow Goose 07a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg

Great or Great White Egret, with Snowy Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants, Canada Geese and in flight, Snow Geese.

21st October.

Again, all day in the reserve, seeing a Sharp-shinned Hawk, an adult and an immature Tricoloured Heron, an immature Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Grey Plovers, c700 Bank/Sand Martins, 2 Northern Harriers, c400 Snow Geese, Canada Geese, 13 Tundra Swans, a Great Northern Diver, an Osprey, Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, 2 Mourning Doves, Starlings, a Belted Kingfisher, a Peregrine, 2 Royal Terns, Forster's Terns, lots of Double-crested Cormorants and Black ducks, Western and Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, 22 Laughing Gulls and 3 Caspian Terns. 

Later, on Chincoteague Island there was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Belted Kingfisher and a Northern Mockingbird. Then around the town of Chincoteague we saw 11 Pectoral Sandpipers, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, an American Oystercatcher and c20 Eastern Meadowlarks.

Photos: Right & below: Tundra Swan.

Below right: Great Blue Heron.

Tundra Swan 02a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg
Tundra Swan 01a, Maryland, 10_87.jpg
Great Blue Heron 01a, Virginia, 18-10-87

22nd October.

All day in the reserve, seeing 2 Northern Harriers, Myrtle Warblers, a Northern Cardinal, Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants, Black Ducks, Greater Yellowlegs, Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, an American Kestrel, 2 Ruddy Ducks, 6 Gadwall, c40 Black Brants, c1500 Snow Geese, c500 Canada Geese, 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks, a Turnstone, 6 Pintail, Western and Least Sandpipers, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plovers, Grey Plovers, 2 Turkey Vultures, 2 American Robins, a Carolina Chickadee, a Cedar Waxwing, a Grey-cheeked Thrush, Eastern Towhees, 4 River Otters, Forster's Terns, 2 American White Pelicans, Caspian Terns, Laughing Gulls, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2 Brown Thrashers, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Mourning Dove, Common Flickers, 4 Night Herons, 4 Clapper Rails heard, an American Red Fox, 4 Raccoons, White-tailed and Sika Deers.

White-tailed Deer 02a, Maryland, 10_87.j
White-tailed Deer 01a, Maryland, 10_87.j

White-tailed Deer.

23rd October.

Our final morning at Chincoteague and a brief visit to the reserve, seeing much the same as previous days, also 2 Eastern Cottontails, another American Red Fox, a Cooper's Hawk, now c30 Pintail, a Fish Crow and a Red-throated Diver.

Later, a drive south to North Carolina and our hotel in Manteo on Roanoke Island.








North Carolina

Great Egret 04a, Virginia, 19-10-87.jpg

Great Egret.

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