Old Hickory Wildlife Management Area

The Old Hickory Wildlife Management Area is the area that surrounds Old Hickory Lake in Middle Tennessee.  Access is primarily by water since the area is immediately adjacent to the water of Old Hickory Lake however there are numerous land access areas as well.

 January 1, 2015

Cold and cloudy today but since it was the first of day of the new years I had to go get some bird photograpahs somewhere and Old Hickory Lake seemed like a good place to go.  It was worth it to since I saw a couple of Herring Gulls wandering around.

 September 20, 2014

It was pretty at the lake this morning.  Really pretty!  Not a lot of birds around but a couple of Great Blue Herons fishing.  The weather was gorgeous though, comfortable temperature and a little bit of cloud to give the sky some texture.

 August 30, 2014

Once again I haven’t been to Old Hickory for a while so I decided to head that way this morning.  There wasn’t a lot there, a couple of Great Blue Herons and some Mallards, but the sunrise was stunning!  Fall is coming though and before long the migratory birds will begin to show up on the waterways around this area.

 May 26, 2014

I haven’t been to Old Hickory for a while so I decided to head that way this morning.  I didn’t stay long since a thunderstorm popped up and I bailed out pretty quickly.  I did take a few photographs though.  The baby Mallards are heavy on “Awwwwwwww” factor and the Spotted Sandpiper was a new species for me, so all in all it was a worthwhile trip.

 February 1, 2014

Not a lot of ducks on the lake right now but a lot of gulls are still around.  We had a bitter cold spell, for this part of the country, that appears to have sent a lot of our winter visitors further south in search of warmer weather.  Tennessee weather has a life of its own; Tuesday the high was about 10° whereas today it was 62°.  Now there are winter weather warnings flying around for tomorrow night so who knows what will happen next.  Anyway, today was gorgeous with brilliant blue skies and lots of sunshine so I took advantage of it.

 December 25, 2013

A crystal clear yet quite cold Christmas morning is a good reason to head for Old Hickory Lake so that’s what I did.  It’s been overcast the past few days and the birds around the lake appeared to really enjoy some bright sunshine for a change.  The 19° temperature didn’t appear to bother them nearly as much as it did me but at least the wind that has been blowing the past few days died out overnight.

 December 16, 2013

Cold, overcast with a few snow flurries, windy, and miserable was the story this morning.  Sunrise, such as it was, occurred at 6:50 and at 8:00 it was still little more than dim twilight.

It never got really bright but eventually it was light enough that I could see some detail, and when I could I noticed some small waterfowl on the lake that I didn’t recognize.  A couple finally got close enough that I could get a halfway decent shot of them and they turned out to be Horned Grebes in non-breeding plumage.  They aren’t native to this part of the country and only migrate down this way in the winter so we don’t ever get to see them in their bright breeding plumage.  Regardless it was a new bird species for me so it made the cold worthwhile.

 November 29, 2013

It’s been a few weeks since I went to Old Hickory Lake so I decided to head that way this morning.  While pretty chilly at 25° it wasn’t nearly as cold as yesterday morning at 17°!  A little fog hanging over the water but otherwise a nice clear morning.
I was starting to think about heading to Shelby Park for a little while when I heard a Belted Kingfisher.  Their call is very easy to recognize because it sounds just exactly like a cackling, taunting laugh.  And it fits them perfectly!  Their creator must have had a real sense of humor in giving them that laugh because they use it very well to taunt photographers with.

Kingfishers are quite shy and don’t like to be approached by people.  At all!  This one was no exception either.  He was sitting on a stump out in the lake so I started easing my way toward him.  I stopped about 50 yards away, and managed to get one photograph before he took off with that maniacal laugh echoing behind him.  He landed in a tree a couple of hundred yards down the lake, so I trudged down that way and started easing up closer to him.  Once again I got one bad shot before he launched again and landed in another tree yet farther down the lake.  Sigh ….  Once again I trudged further down the lake and started easing my way closer to him.  This time I got 59 meters from him (measured with my lens) before he launched yet again and headed all the way across the lake, laughing that crazy laugh and leaving me to walk a half mile back to my vehicle.  This is the shot of him bailing out of the tree and heading across the lake.
I finally got back to my truck, cold and tired, and decided to head for Shelby Park for a while.  When I got there what do you think was the first thing I saw?  Yep, another Kingfisher ready to play the let’s-make-the-stupid-human-walk-all-the-way-around-the-lake game.  So I did.  And I still didn’t get any closer.  One of these days guys, one of these days!

 November 9, 2013

I headed for Old Hickory Lake this morning fully intending on tracking that Bald Eagle as long as it took to get a good shot.  Unfortunately the first thing I saw when I opened the door of my car was the eagle heading down the lake, and I watched as it disappeared from view.  Oh well, so much for that idea.

The second thing I noticed was the sunrise!  It was so gorgeous that I made it the masthead at the very top of this page.  A little fog, a little cloud, lots of brilliant red sunshine coming through.

Plenty of birds around enjoying the cool weather to.  Mostly Ring-Billed Gulls but a few Mallards and Great Blue Herons mixed in as well.

 November 2, 2013

No fog today for once!  An absolutely sparkling morning at the lake for a change.  Some off-and-on clouds but temperatures in the upper 40’s and virtually unlimited visibility for once.

I started out shooting a Great Blue Heron that was browsing among some grass and then noticed something come cruising along overhead.  I looked at it through my camera and to my surprise it was an Osprey!  It was only the second time in my life I’ve seen one and I was thrilled. The first time was a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t get a good shot so this made up for it somewhat.

I also saw one of the Bald Eagles perched in a tree a loooooong way off so I decided to see if I could get a bit closer.  In situations like this I normally start taking shots as soon as I get decently close, work myself a bit closer and get another shot, work myself a bit closer and get another shot, and so forth.  I started using the same routine again however this time the Eagle wasn’t into it and he flew after I got one shot.
I drove over to the dam for a few minutes but there wasn’t much going on there.  As I was about to leave I noticed a barge coming up-river and heading for the lock so I decided to watch it for a few minutes since I had never seen anything go through a lock.  It was actually pretty interesting to watch, the tug’s skipper get the whole string of barge floats a few inches off the lock wall while they pushed two of the floats into the lock and disconnected them.  The tug and the other two floats then backed out so they could lift the two in the lock up to the lake level.  That’s when I left, that operation took about 30 minutes and I assumed the remainder would to.  Still pretty interesting to watch.

 October 26, 2013

Once again fog was the name of the game today, but it lifted rather quickly leaving gorgeous blue skies behind for a while.  It was cold though, as in about 30° with some breeze off the lake making it feel a bit cooler.  It felt great though, I love this time of year.

One reason I wanted to go there this morning was to see if any of the migratory birds were showing up yet since it’s getting about time for them.  Sure enough there were a few Ring-Billed Gulls hanging around.

 October 12, 2013

Fog was the name of the game today!  Heavy fog.  The first photograph below shows how foggy it was, and the distance was only 15 meters.  Luckily eliminating fog in post-processing is not that difficult.

 September 22, 2013

It’s been several weeks since I’ve been to Old Hickory and this morning was just too gorgeous to miss.  The Mallards were everywhere, the Terns were wheeling around, and even a Bald Eagle made a couple of passes overhead.  A great morning to be out in the fresh air and sunshine.

The Bald Eagle was a complete surprise.  I was watching the ducks and saw a large shadow pass in front of me.  I looked up to see the Eagle gliding across the lake and only had time for a couple of quick shots before it was out of range.

 August 24, 2013

I did go somewhere else for the past couple of weekends, but then decided I wanted to come back here again this week.  Unfortunately the pickings were very slim today for some reason.  I only saw two Herons, whereas a couple of weeks ago they were literally everywhere.  I did see the Caspian Tern again, a pair of them actually, but they were well out over the lake.  Other than that just Mallards and Canada Geese.

Below are a couple of shots of the area I usually go to on the lake. It is a small peninsula that goes out into Old Hickory Lake as can be seen on Google Maps Here
The first photograph is looking southwest into the cove to the right of the peninsula and the second is looking northwest toward the area labeled as “Old Hickory Lake Park” on Google Maps.

And, of course, a few bird shots from this morning as well.

 August 4, 2013

A few more from Old Hickory WMA.  Next week I think I’m going to go somewhere different for a change.

 July 28, 2013

I went back to Old Hickory WMA this morning hoping that perhaps the Great Egrets that were there last weekend would still be around.  They weren’t but I did run across a bird that isn’t really supposed to be around here this time of year, a Caspian Tern.  From what I can tell they migrate through here but this is the wrong time of year for that so I’m not sure why he was hanging around.  I’m glad he did though.

 July 20, 2013

I went back to Old Hickory WMA this morning in hopes that I might get a shot of one of the Double-Crested Cormorants that eluded me the last time I was there.  I had been there a couple of hours and was getting hot and tired and thirsty so I started to put my camera up.  A little voice inside told me to “Give it a few more minutes …” so I said what the heck.  A few minutes later I started to put my stuff up again and that little voice piped up with “Just a couple more minutes …” so, once again, I said what the heck.  This time it was worth it.  I saw a shadow come over my head and looked up to see 5 Great Egrets gliding around the cove I was standing by.
I did get a few decent shots of a Double-Crested Cormorant as I wanted to do.  They are odd looking water birds when they are swimming because just about all that is visible is their neck, head, and the very top of their back.  Compare the shots below to the Mallard further down this page and take note of how much more of the Mallard is out of the water.  Cormorants from a distance look like a large snake swimming with their head sticking out of the water.

 July 13, 2013

 February 16, 2013