Today is Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Autumn is Here, Finally

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Red Headed Woodpecker

It looks like Summer is fixing to turn loose and let Fall take it's place. Fall is a great time of the year, but my most favorite is Spring, because of the new flowers that bloom. You can keep Winter.

Last week, Anthony Gray and I ran one of our usual routes in reverse. When going backwards it seems like a different world altogether. We started out taking Trousdale Ferry Pike past my favorite radio station, WANT 98.9 Fm, where several of my friends work. Mj Lucas spins the disc and Coleman Walker has a morning show at 7am each weekday morning.

Stopping at the bridge going over Spring Creek, we give it a listen. There are not too many birds stirring, except for the usual, Field Sparrows. You will find them around most hay fields and scrubby places out in the country.

On down toward Tuckers Cross Roads, we spot a medium size family of Wild Turkeys. These are hens. At this time of the year the Toms are seperated but will join the hens closer to their breeding season. When I would camp at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park campground, it was nothing to have to wait close to three minutes for a family of young turkeys to cross the road in front of you.

Stopping at Saulsbury Bridge over some small unnamed creek, we pause for a few minutes. At this time of the year, the creek has no flow to it. During the Spring, there is ample water flowing over about six step downs and makes a most beautiful picture. Here we find a White-eyed Vireo singing his call, "Chick, per chick a ria chick." That is the only way that I know how to describe it's song. Earlier in Spring, we will find a family of Eastern Phoebes, that will build their nest underneath the bridge, made mostly of moss, mud and twigs.

We head down South Commerce Road into the sleepy city of Watertown. We head out Holmes Gap Road where we watch an American Kestral hovering above a newly cut hay field. These birds have excelent vision and can detect the slightest movement of some rodent moving through the area. Many times, we have seen them clutching some field mouse or vole that they have caught.

In a wooded lot next to the railroad tracks, we hear another White-eyed Vireo. Other birds heard in the area are Field Sparrows, Carolina Chickadees, and Carolina Wrens. Many of our bird names come from where they are first found, when people discovered them.

Coming out in Alexandria, we head back toward Watertown, then over to Norene and then toward Cedar Forest. At the large decidious tract of woods on Cedar Forest Road, we hear a Family of Red-headed Woodpeckers up in the canopy of leaves. There are many good birders that will confuse them with a Red-bellied Woodpecker. I will show you the difference in my pictures with this article.

Checking out the Campground at Cedars, we find many vacant campsites. When the weather gets hot and dry, most people had rather be somewhere under an air conditioner. Heading home we drive down Rocky Valley Road where we find a plethora of Field Sparrows. Most of the streams there are bone dry.

Fast forward a week, Diana Bright and I head out in a light rain this past Saturday down Coles Ferry Pike. We take a right down Mann Road, which sure looks different than it did twenty years ago. There are more homes there and even more on the way. Just past Mr. Raymond Hunters house we find a large flock of Wild Turkeys.

Many years ago, Anthony helped me set up a Blue Bird trail around the road. The first year we had maybe fifteen pair of Bluebirds nesting , out of thirtythree boxes. The next year there were around twentyfive bird houses in use. I wish that I could do it all over again.

Headed back west on Coles Ferry, we stop at the Bartons Creek boat ramp, where we see a large flock of Canada Geese flying in their "V" formation. Other birds in the area were Great Blue Herons, Tufted Titmouse and more Field Sparrows. Last Thursday while Diana and me were fishing here, I caught a five pound Flathead Catfish. With the small rod and reel I was using, it took me about six minutes to get the fish up on the bank. I did later let him go.

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

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Our Feathered Friends
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Anthony Gray, Diana Bright, Ray Pope
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