Winter Wonders Aboard the Explorer
1/5/2010 1:29:05 PM
A Tennessee Aquarium aviculturist describes winter birding opportunities aboard the River Gorge Explorer.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007
Winter Wonders Seen Aboard the River Gorge Explorer
Frigid Forecast Really Is “For the Birds”
Chattanooga, Tenn. (January 5, 2010) - This certainly isn't the type of weather that springs to mind if someone were to say, "Let's go for a boat ride." But people who haven't been in the Tennessee River Gorge during winter might be surprised by what they can see. Winter provides excellent bird viewing and rare opportunities to see Tennessee’s Grand Canyon decked in white from inside the warm cabin of the River Gorge Explorer.
According to Kevin Calhoon, the Tennessee Aquarium's assistant curator of forests, several bird species are currently visiting that are uncommon here in the warmer months. Most apparent now are three species of gull that choose to hang out in the relatively warm Chattanooga climate. “Ring-billed, Bonaparte’s and herring gulls appear along the Chattanooga Riverfront beginning in October and November,” Calhoon said. “Whenever it gets cold and icy up north, it’s more difficult for gulls to find food. So they come here. We also see more bald eagles here in the winter months for the same reason.”
Tennessee Aquarium naturalists point out other winter bird species spotted on each cruise such as:
• common loon
• pied-billed grebe
• double-crested cormorant
• lesser scaup
• American coot
Winter can also provide spectacular scenery if snow coats the landscape with white or ice glistens in the trees. When that's the case, the Explorer’s crew urges people to grab camera gear and head to the Chattanooga Pier for a weekend cruise aboard the Explorer. “Whenever Chattanooga receives measureable snowfall, the views in the Gorge are spectacular,” said Pete Hosemann, one of the Explorer’s captains. “Snowy scenes from the water's edge to the mountain tops are rare photo opportunities.”
Fear not fair-weather friends, the Explorer’s cabin will be toasty warm for passengers whenever it’s frigid and “fowl” outside.
For excursion times and to reserve cruise tickets in advance go to: http://www.tnaqua.org/RiverGorgeExplorer/BoatSchedule.aspx