Sunday, May 26, 2013

scarlet treasure

Vickie's fast photo of the hide-away tanager

This outing was with a group from Ijams. We were walking along a new very forested section of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness South Loop. Our goal was to find and count as many birds as possible but were very soon completely captivated by one songster high in the canopy. One persistent singer.

It sounded like a scarlet tanager, but this late in the season? How could that be? These SCARLET RED and black neotropical migrants passed through last month when the leaves were not quite unfurled. I heard several weeks ago, and then they were gone.

I pondered: "What else sounds like a scarlet tanager? And would be in South Knoxville in late May?"

In time, we overruled my reluctance and decided that yes indeed it was a late-season tanager, a slow poke, a bringing up the rear, timid to move on yearling. Who knows?

Several in the group had never actually seen one and wanted us to find it but that can be a challenge when you're on the forest floor and the bird is high overhead in the canopy, you can't see the forest dweller for the forest trees.

After over an hour of listening, maneuvering and craning our necks, we finally located the tardy tanager briefing, eating caterpillars in a flowering walnut tree. It was brief, but all got a good look and my dear friend Vickie Henderson even managed to take a few very quick photos before the wayward neotrop disappeared once again.


If we all had magically been made 70 feet taller, whisked from the Lilliputian to the Brobdingnagian, this is what we would have seen at eye level. 


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