Spring Beauties

We stopped at the Big Sandy Unit Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge to see if we could see any hummingbirds at the feeders. We weren’t disappointed by the hummingbirds …

or by the beautiful butterfly garden and grounds which overlooked the lake.

I couldn’t decide which I enjoyed more, the flowers …

the birds …

or the butterflies and other insects.

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~Ruth Stout

Birds Around the Lake

The area around Reelfoot Lake was once again busy with a variety of birds, some of which were passing through during spring migration.

One of my favorites to look for each year is the Prothonotary Warbler with its bright yellow plumage. I spotted this one in a wooded area, busily preening its feathers.

Flitting about in the top of the Cypress trees were the Yellow-rumped warblers flashing their beautiful yellow patches …

and the larger gray and white Eastern Kingbird on the lookout for flying insects.

Down closer to the water we spotted a shy thrush sitting on a cypress knee …

and a male and female Red-winged blackbird, catching insects and guarding nests among the swampy vegetation.

“In a world where thrushes sing and willow trees are golden in the spring, boredom should have been included among the seven deadly sins.” ~Elizabeth Goudge


I spotted these three juvenile house sparrows sitting on some branches of a bush in my yard.  They were sunning and preening and eagerly awaiting their mothers return.

Her arrival caused quite a flurry of activity as each juvenile vied to get the next morsel of food that she brought.

After feeding time, her departure left the juveniles looking a little lost and forlorn.

Here is a short video of the mother sparrow feeding the juveniles.

“(24/7) once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.” ~Jodi Picoult

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

It is common for the Rose-breasted Grosbeak to migrate through our area in the spring. I heard reports of them being here in late April, but only spotted them in my yard this past week. The male, with his bright red patch, was the first to make an appearance, followed shortly by the brown and white female. Seeing these birds is one of the highlights of my spring.

“Last week, when I went early into my garden, a rose-breasted grosbeak was sitting on the fence. Oh, he was beautiful as a flower. I hardly dared to breathe, I did not stir, and we gazed at each other fully five minutes before he concluded to move.” ~Celia Thaxter

Bird and Plant Silhouettes

There’s a certain beauty about nature in silhouette. A silhouette leaves room for the imagination and seems to create a mood and story of its own.

“My imagination has always been inspired by nature’s vision.” ~Gregory Colbert

“When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.”
~Lewis Carroll

Lesser Yellowlegs

Each spring these slender shorebirds return to flooded farm fields around the lake and levee to forage. It is interesting to watch as they dart about plucking invertebrates from the shallow water.

“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could.” ~John James Audubon

Great Egrets

Scattered throughout the forest of the refuge, a number of beautiful and graceful Great Egrets stealthily meander about the swampy waters in search of their next unsuspecting meal.

“The trick to not being discovered until it is too late is to become part of the expected surroundings. Stealth is more the art of blending in with the background than sneaking through dark shadows.” ~Raymond E. Feist

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

In search of crawfish, insects and a variety of aquatic invertebrates, this heron quietly hunted in a swampy, forested area of the refuge.

“I have always found thick woods a little intimidating, for they are so secret and enclosed. You may seem alone but you are not, for there are always eyes watching you. All the wildlife of the woods … are well aware of your presence no matter how softly you may tread, and they follow your every move although you cannot see them.” ~Thalassa Cruso

Subtle Signs of Spring

We chose a chilly, windy day for a hike at Fort Donaldson. The wildflowers are slowly beginning to make an appearance, and the redbud trees are in full bloom.

“Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men.” ~Chinese Proverb

In Just the Right Place

I almost missed it.  This nonvenomous water snake was well-hidden, wrapped around the top of a broken tree trunk which was standing out in swampy water.  It was lounging in the afternoon sun, but was undoubtedly well-positioned and patiently waiting for prey.

“Position yourself well enough, and circumstances will do the rest.” ~Mason Cooley