A "Great" Time Was Had By All, at Cedars

Ray Pope

A "Great" Time Was Had By All, at Cedars | Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Anthony Gray, Liz Franklin, Melissa Turrentine, Ray Pope

Liz Franklin and Melissa Turrentine

If I had to describe my weekend at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park's annual Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade Wildflower Festival, I guess I could sum it up in a simple cliche, "a great time was had by all".

We started Friday night with a special program on Butterflies presented by, Rita Venable, whose new book, "Butterflies of Tennessee" was available for purchase. I didn't realize that we had so many different species here in Tennessee. Some of these were very familiar to me and others I had no clue that they were even here. That was perfect timing because I have intentions of growing a butterfly garden here in my own front yard. The rest of the evening was spent mingling with old friends from past programs and meeting a few new ones.

My alarm clock was set for 5:00am so I could get an early start with breakfast and whatever came my way. My best friend, Anthony Gray showed up before the appointed time for my bird program. I was hoping for him to see many different birds that was coming through during spring migration.

I had purchased a new electronic ear, really a parabolic microphone, to help with my diminished hearing. It worked a lot better than what was expected of it. I would put the headset on and hear birds singing in the treetops several feet away. When the headset was removed, all I could hear was silence. Several of my friends there tried it and was astonished at how well it worked.

We had thirteen brave souls just chomping at the bit ready to see a few birds. Dr. George Robertson, along with his wife Linda were joined by, Mark and Kim Merritt, all the way from Macon County, Justin Stefanso, Anthony Gray, Liz Franklin, Helen Seul, Jean Russell, Myself, my co-leader, Melissa Turrentine, and joined later by her husband and daughter, Roy and Josellen Turrentine.

We had figured that the timing was perfect for the influx of our migratory friends coming up from points south. The total of our avian visitors were 57, and we were not going to even mention starlings. Out of this total, there were sixteen different species of New World Warblers, both species of Tanagers, Summer and Scarlets. Two of my favorite Vireos also were singing in the tree tops. The Red-eyed Vireo most likely holds the title for most songs whistled in a single day at 20,000. It sings what sound like a question, and then the answer, over and over. I'm not sure who was doing the counting, but I could think of better things to do. Farther north where this bird spends the summer, it is highly parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The White-eyed Vireo has a beautiful song, which to me sounds like, "Chick, perchick a riachick" and it's favored habitat is abandoned cultivation or overgrown pastures. I hear them quite frequently, while driving out in the countryside.

Another of my favorite programs is the Geology talk and walk presented by my good friend, Ron Zurawski. Ron is our State Geologist and takes us on a field trip looking for fossils out amongst the Lebanon Limestone that makes up our cedar glade. His wife Angie can sure cook up a mean turkey burger, which has been sort of a tradition for several years now. It was also good to see their daughter, Melody, who has now graduated from Brigham Young University.

For the visitors that enjoy a bit of underworld scenic pleasure, Ken Oeser did a program with photos taken in the area of the park which included the cave where I once got stuck and Anthony Gray had to tug on my feet to get me loose. New found editions of Jackson Cave have now been mapped to a total of over 14,000 feet in length.

I was beginning to worry about calling up our nocturnal friends for my Owl Prowl that began at 7:00pm. It was too light and Buddy Ingram, the park ranger suggested that we take our wagon load of owl watchers on out Cedar Forest Road to try the Screech Owl call. It was still light when I called for the Screech Owl, and got an answer from three Barred Owls, which could have the smaller owl for breakfast. They wouldn't come any closer, so we came back to the five mile trail-head to try for another family of Barred Owls. It wasn't even five minutes later when the Barred Owls showed up, one right where most everyone could see. Then, they made a ruckus, that we call, "laughing" and some of our group were bent over with their own laughter. There were forty people that showed up for my last program of the day, which made me a happy camper.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net