Michael Lee Bierly

Joined: Mar 19, 2023 Last Active: Sep 20, 2023 iNaturalist


Born August 22, 1947, in Roanoke, Virginia. My parents moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1953, where I resided for 64 years. In biology class my sophomore year in high school, I was introduced to birds and birders. That chance introduction influenced a large part of my life. From then on everything was geared towards looking for birds where possible. I traveled domestically and internationally for birds; taught bird Adult Education courses at my high school for twenty years; and founded and ran The Wood Thrush Shop, a bird store, which I sold after eight years and is still in operation.

After selling my store, the needs of my father increased over time and I curtailed my activities accordingly to assist him. When he moved into my house in The Nations that I called Kentucky Manor, my time away from it was limited and I pursued another interest, Lepidoptera, especially butterflies. I planted plants to attract them and let nature come to me as I could not go to it.

After my father died in 2010, I extended my butterfly wanderings in Tennessee though mainly confined to Middle Tennessee. In 2017, the population pressures of Nashville were too great for me and after 64 years, moved an hour west of Nashville, to a rural undeveloped 23.67 acres in southwest Dickson County, Tennessee, 3.6 miles from I-40. The land had been clear-cut and farmed some forty years previously and was now an even aged mixed deciduous and pine woods with several wet weather creeks and a hundred-foot-high hill where I designed and built a house in the sun in an open area previously maintained for deer. The land I call Hillcrest Castle (HC) and my house, the Castle. All this resides geographically on the Western Highland Rim, my front door at 777’.

The open area around the house is small compared to the wooded rest of the property. All you can see is woods from it. After the completion of the house in 2019, I decided in addition to intensely looking and planting for butterflies at HC, it was time to take up in earnest the other part of Lepidoptera, moths. I had always imaged and recorded moths in my pursuit of butterflies, but now it was time to get serious. My first recorded moth record was a Green Cloverworm on March 10, 2019, attracted to a light set-up. I continued with only lights until on September 14, 2019, I added a Sugar Bait (SB) route. That first SB night had 8 species and 45 individuals. Well, as they say, the rest is history.

Weather permitting, at night you will find me first running my Sugar Bait route and then checking my lights, which in the warmer weather in additional to the house have additional set-ups in the woods; the warmer nights include a.m. runs and checks. I image for documentation. I count and record all my sightings, thought time consuming, paints an ever changing and more complete picture of these woods.

This 75-year-old man enjoys what’s around him. I am not an expert. I am limited now in travel, HC is my enjoyment, never thinking I would ever have the opportunity to be the caretaker of Pileated Woodpeckers, Barred Owls, and all the critters that call Hillcrest Castle home.

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