by Marcia Davis – Go Knoxville
In the hours and days after Morton Massey of Knoxville reported several rare and unusual wading birds on eBird on July 13, many birders arrived at Gupton Wetlands (part of Swan Pond Recreation Area near the Kingston Steam Plant in Roane County) to look for the rarities.
Morton reported two white ibises (one adult and one immature), five little blue herons (all white-phase immatures), one black tern and four cattle egrets. That evening Victor and Ruben Stoll of Centerville arrived. They saw the ibises plus four black-crowned night-herons and an amazing 42 little blue herons. This is a remarkably high number of little blues for East Tennessee. The Stoll brothers also saw 24 cattle egrets and 10 green herons.
Little blue herons are unusual in that their feathers are either all white or all blue, or a mixture of both. Juvenile males and females are white for nearly two years before they molt into the solid, dark slate-blue adult plumage.
Why are little blues different colors depending on their age?
Clay Thurston here, hope all has been well for you.
I have a question for you. I spent several hours at Gupton Wetlands yesterday and really enjoyed it… my question is how safe is it to spend a lot of time there considering the ash spill in 2008?
My imprecision by looking at the wildlife there, that it must have recovered pretty well… everything that I could see seemed to be very heathy… except of course for all the dead trees in the water.
I’ve been looking on line and really haven’t found much about the recent status there… I assume it’s good, but thought I’d ask you what you thought. Thanks, Clay