Today is Tuesday, September 19, 2017

40 Years and Counting

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Me With More Prowlers

Well, another week has come and gone with a lot of rain thrown in to help with May Flowers. I had a program at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park that I have done for 40 years. That would have made me 26 years old when I first started doing this.

This article will pick up from where I left off last Saturday morning. As we pulled into the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, we were greeted by a small flock of Goldfinch. Since spring has started to warm up, they have been sporting beautiful gold colored feathers with deep black wings.

Feeding around the parking lot of the Dixon Merritt Nature Center we find a plethora of Chipping Sparrows. For the past several years we have had this species here every year, just like clockwork. Some years, we have been able to locate their nest and watch them feed their young.

The Chippers have to keep a good watch on their nest because of the Brown-headed Cowbird. The Cowbirds would remove an egg from the nest and lay one of their own which would hatch first and then the baby would push out the egg or babies from the nest. I have watched a Song Sparrow and a Northern Cardinal feeding Cowbird Babies. The baby Cowbird was actually twice the size of the Song Sparrow.

Headed on out toward Norene Anthony Gray put on the brakes and then jumped out of the car to save a Box Turtle from being ran over by some careless driver. We have been out and found squashed turtles on the side of the road where one would drive onto the shoulder of the road just to hit one. We stop for every one and take them across the road toward the direction that they were headed.

Stopping off at the trail head of the Sue Warren Trail, we hear our favorite Summer Bird, the White-eyed Vireo. Their song sounds like, " chick-per-chick-a-ria-chick." We can always count on finding this special bird in this location each year.

On up the road we come to the deciduous woods, our favorite spots for Woodpeckers and other spring migrants. Here, we find the Red-eyed Vireo. This bird seems to ask a question and then answer itself from dawn to dusk. Here we could hear the drumming of some type of Woodpecker. After a few minutes of drumming, we found two different species, the Red-bellied and the Red-headed Woodpeckers. Over in the distance we heard the call of a Yellow-breasted Chat, our largest Warbler.

Coming out in Norene, we head toward Lebanon so we can turn right onto Beech Log Road. Time to stop and rescue another Box Turtle. This one is a bit smaller than the first one. Off to our right we hear the "witchy witchy witchy" call of the Common Yellowthroat. A short piece down the road we find a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Other birds in the vicinity are Field Sparrows, Rufous-sided Towhees and several families of Eastern Bluebirds.

Headed through Watertown we ride out Commerce Road and turn down Knee Road. Where the road crosses over the Round Lick Creek, we find a Great Blue Heron looking for its dinner. At the dead end of the road, a Brown Thrasher flies overhead. Another White-eyed Vireo is also singing along with an Indigo Bunting.

This past Saturday morning I met my co leader, Melissa Turrentine, out front of the Cedar Forrest Lodge where we were to lead an early morning bird walk. During the day we wound up with a total of 45 species of birds. We also wound up with a total of seven members of the Wood Warbler family.

It was finally time for me and Diana Bright to meet with Ron and Angie Zurawski for her delicious Turkey Burgers at cabin #2. Afterward we would go to Ron's presentation of his Geology Workshop. Ron is the State Geologist for the state of Tennessee.

Finally, its getting close to 7 o'clock and we must head toward the nature center for my Owl Prowl. I start to worry that no one will show up since there is no body there at 5 till seven. Not to worry because here they come by the car loads. We then did a head count and found forty people eager to see some Owls.

We make our first stop by the swimming pool and try to call up a Screech Owl. No luck on that one so we try a Barred Owl. None here either, but its still an hour before dark. I suggest that we head out to my favorite part of the woods. Finally Anthony shows up with his wife Linda and Grandson Bryce Gray to go "Bird-nerd" watching for the Owls. It seems that I called forever and right about dark, four Barred Owls finally made their appearance. That was how I spelled relief.

You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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Anthony Gray, Diana Bright, Ray Pope
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