Today is Friday, May 26, 2017

Bald Eagle on Hiwassee Road

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Bald Eagle Flying Off

This will probably be my last article for a while, unless Anthony Gray can write some for me. I will be having surgery this Wednesday morning at 10am to repair the tear of my rotator cuff and tear of my bicep muscle in my left shoulder. It would be great to get many prayers from all of my friends and readers.

Anthony arrives at around eight Saturday morning to pick me and Diana Bright up for a morning of birding. Our first stop will be out to the Blowed out bridge. The temperature is a still chilly 47 degrees so I have to put on a light jacket.

One of our Swallow species was flying back and forth over the still water of Little Cedar Creek. Insect activity had picked up, even though it had not yet made it above 50 degrees. Out in my back yard, there was a pair of Tree Swallows flying around and landing on one of my Bluebird houses. I was hoping that they would choose one of my spare houses, but they didn't make me any promises. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Speaking of my back yard, my Eastern Bluebirds have deposited six blue eggs in a grass lined nest. I am not sure that the female has set the clutch. If so, I should soon have some little fuzzballs in about 14 days. After about the same time, the little ones should have fledged.

Back to the bridge, a small flock of House Finches were feeding in an area behind us. Crows were "Cawing" in the large hay field over on the other side of the slew. Also on the road into the boat launch area was a plethora of Field Sparrows.

We do an about face and head back out towards Beasley's Bend Road and make a quick stop at the Cedar Creek Baptist Church. Most of the time, this is a good stop for birds. With a little bit of wind blowing, it makes it hard to eavesdrop on the avian community. As we pull up, we find a family of Bluejays up in the Cedar (Juniper) Trees there. In the large field across from the Church, American Crows are fussing about something that probably doesn't amount to a hill of beans. A family of Red-wing Blackbirds were also seen in the area.

Heading north from there, we take a right turn onto Ford Road. As we come out of the hairpin curve, we find a small flock of Wild Turkeys, not the sipping kind. There are several hens in the mix with a large puffed out Tom struting around, draging it's wings on the ground. One look at them and you can kind of figure which one is the boss of the flock.

Taking Speck Road off of the Hartsville Pike, we soon turn north onto Providence Road. Here we spot Diana's favorite Donkey, laying about in its pen. Off to the right, an Eastern Meadowlark comes in for a landing. Maybe it will prepare a nesting spot in the short grass. We are now stopped at the Providence C P Church in the crossroads. A carolina Chickadee is singing to our left while over to our right, Bluejays and Northern Cardinals are singing.

We take Cedar Bluff road until it turns into Hiwassee Road at the Smith County line. From here we are in the shadows of the Hartsville Nuclear Plant, shut down before it was even completed. In the field to our right was an American Kestral on a phone line with either a fieldmouse or vole in it's talons. It must have been a good day for Kestrals, because we saw another with the same thing in it's claws about thirty miles from there.

As we made the turn south, Anthony said, "what the heck is that." It was huge and it was an immature Bald Eagle sitting on the ground eating what was left of some fish. It flew back behind us and I had Anthony turn the car around where I might get a decent photo of it. I fired off a couple of shots while it was on the ground and another shot or two as it was flying off. It's wingspan was at least six feet across, maybe a female. The pictures I had taken were not the best, but you be the judge. (See Photos)

As we were leaving Hiwassee Road, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. A Pileated Woodpecker flew over us from left to right, not five feet above the car. Five seconds either way and we would not have spotted it.

We pulled off at the old Rome Ferry spot, where the old Jere Mitchell sits rusting. This is the name of the old ferry boat that ran well into the 60's. While at the boat ramp, we heard a family of Northern Cardinals and a single Belted Kingfisher flew by.

Leaving Rome in our rear view mirror, we passed over Pope's Hill, headed on into Carthage. Yes, the hill is named for some of my Kin folks way back when. One of the early Pope girls ran off and married one of the Sampson Boys a long time ago. The Sampsons had drilled a well and started a health bath called Sampson's Mineral Springs. You used to be able to smell that place a mile before you got to it.

Turning onto Highway 25, we crossed over the Cumberland River and headed north until we came to Highway 80. We made a large loop and came back down Highway 263 overlooking the Cordell Hull Dam. Here we found a few Tufted Titmouse singing away. Several Field Sparrows dotted the hill side there and a lonely Red-bellied Woodpecker called from overhead. At the dam, we found several Great Blue Herons down by the swift current.

Time to head back toward Lebanon and the Snow White Drive In and our weekly hamburger fix. Don't forget to keep me in your prayers for my Wednesday surgery on my shoulder.

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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Anthony Gray, Diana Bright, Ray Pope
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