Today is Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ahhh Finally Spring

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Eastern Bluebird Photo by Teresa Botts

As I write this article, Spring is only one day away. One might expect it to start off warm, but no such luck. We will have to wait up until May before we can plant our tender vegetables such as home grown tomatoes.

Anthony Gray picked me up ten minutes before eight this past Saturday morning. Before we left out, we could hear a Carolina Wren singing in my back yard. This particular Wren will visit my dome feeder at the kitchen window, looking for the dry roasted peanuts that I hide underneath the black oil sunflower seeds. If he has already plundered the peanuts, he will sit at my window and fuss at me for not refilling it. Do any of you, the reader, have such spoiled birds in your backyard?

Our first stop is out South Dickerson Chapel Road, where the northern terminus is the Blowed Out Bridge. As we drive along side the white fence there, an Eastern Phoebe follows us up a couple hundred feet, probably wondering what we are up to. An old house burned to the ground there several years ago and the only thing left was an old out building. This is most likely what the Phoebe is interested in, a great place to build a nest.

Feeding on the ground next to the gate that blocks off access to the area during the winter is a few small Sparrow type birds. Upon closer inspection, we find a small mixed flock of White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows. It will not be too long before these beautiful birds head back north to begin the breeding process all over again.

Off in the distance a Great Blue Heron stands sentinel over his favorite fishing place. This is probably one of the pair that nests close to the bridge. A pair of Canada Geese are found over to our right and they will most likely be starting a new family pretty soon. Out of the thick brush to our left, flies a Hermit Thrush. He doesn't hang around too long before he heads back into the trees. Other birds of interest there include the Northern Cardinal, Field Sparrow and the Tufted Titmouse.

We make a sweep of the Hunters Point Boat ramp and find a solitary Snow Goose hanging around with a domestic white Duck. On down Canoe Branch Road, at the Misty Cove boat launch area, we find a single Mourning Dove. Backtracking, we head west to the Game Farm. I'm sure that it has a real name for it, but "Game Farm" is all that I have ever called it.

The gate down to the river is closed and we will have to do our birding from the turn around. Underneath the Russian Olive bushes we find White Crowned and Field Sparrows. A single Eastern Meadowlark flies by the open field to our north, singing it's beautiful song. Over in a thicket we find more White-throated Sparrows feeding with Northern Cardinals.

I put on my electronic ears and can hear the "gurgilee" song of the Red-winged Blackbird down toward the Cumberland River. Other birds heard are the Carolina Chickadee, Bluejays and American Crows.

Leaving the game farm behind, we take Burford Road as a shortcut to Belotes Ferry Road. We stop at the old hump back bridge for a quick listen. Northern Cardinals and a group of Spring Peepers are all that we hear. Spring Creek is really rolling because of the heavy rain showers from last night's storm.

Taking Cedar Grove Road over to Coles Ferry Pike soon leads us to the Bartons Creek boat ramp where we find a Great Blue Heron knee deep in the water. We keep an eye out for our Albino Cardinal, but he must be in hiding. Across the creek, we hear Red-winged Blackbirds, plus a pair of Canada Geese honking. A Carolina Wren is singing right outside our car where it sounds huge to my parabolic mic.

We take Bradshaw Road over to Bates Road where we find a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a fence post. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds can be found along this stretch of road. Maybe they will find the Bluebird Box at my good friends Willis and Liz Franklin.

Down at the Tyree Access, there are hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls wheeling and diving to catch some kind of baitfish. They are everywhere and I can't remember ever seeing them in such great numbers. A Great Blue Heron is sharing a log with about four or five turtles that are sunning themselves. We also find another Red-tailed Hawk here, along with two male Mallard Ducks.

We make a quick stop at the Davis Corner boat ramp, where we find several Black Vultures feeding on some fish that was tossed out by some fishermen. We drove up next to them where I could take a few photos of them. Also in the slew were a few American Coots.

Headed West on Burton Road, it soon becomes Davis Corner Road which comes out across from the Lone Branch Recreation area, just north of Mt. Juliet. This place is crowded with more Gulls and a pair of Common Loons, Pied-billed Grebes, Double Crested Cormorants, Canada Geese and more American Coots. It is now time to head back to town for our hamburger fix at the Snow White Drive In.

We decide to shoot our weekly video next to the pond at the Jimmy Floyd Center. As we were setting up the camera, a pair of Soft-shelled Turtles dove into the water.

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,

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Our Feathered Friends
Anthony Gray, Liz Franklin, Ray Pope
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