Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

Birdwatcher in Training

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Bryce Gray, Birdwatcher in Training

Well, the weather is still a bit on the warm side, but the storms seem to be going some where else. Now we are needing some rain. My Texas sunflowers are really starting to bloom and seem to be showing off their "Tennessee Orange." My good friend Melanie Kelly has got me started on plants that will help our butterfly populations.

Anthony Gray pulled up this past Saturday morning with one of his Grandsons in tow. Bryce Gray was sitting in the childs seat directly behind me and he was fully equipted for a morning of birdwatching. A pair of childrens binoculars was strung around his neck and he was decked out in camo.

Our first stop was out Coles Ferry Pike and a stop for coffee at the home of Willis and Liz Franklin. I told Liz that we were planning to stop by and see what was feeding and singing around her home. Knock, knock, please repeat this a few more times. Sore knuckles, repeat this just one more time. They must have forgotten that we were to stop by. I was sure looking forward to a good cup of coffee.

At the terminus of Bradshaw Road, a right will put us on Bates Road. We watched as a two male Goldfinch left a residence there, probably from someone's bird feeder and flew up into a tall hackberry tree. Similar to the saying in a baseball movie," if you feed them, they will come," holds true if you considers our feathered friends. Driving on around, we come out on Highway 109 and head north.

Turning left on Wilson Road, we turn into the Martha Gallatin Boat Ramp. The wind is really a howling and at places on the river there we can see whitecaps. We were in hopes of seeing a few shorebirds, but they were out of sight. Just as we were leaving, something caught my eye next to the waters edge. I had Anthony throw it into reverse untill I could get a good look. Hanging on a tree branch, just above water sat a little Green Heron. He snatched a small fish that swam too close and down the gullet he went.

The Green Heron has been known by several different names over the years. The scientific community has called it the "Little Green Heron, the Green-backed Heron," but my most favorite comes from the old time farmers, "Mile or More Bird." I will leave that as I may.

Green Herons, (Butorides virescens), are our smallest Herons, standing about 17 inches in length. The neck is often pulled in tight against the body. Adults have a glossy greenish-black cap, a greenish back and wings that are grey-black grading into green or blue, a chestnut neck with a white line down the front, grey underparts and yellow legs. Now that last sentence was a mouthfull.

Turning onto Bloodworth Road, we wind our way through a heavily wooded area until we come out on Woods Ferry Road. Driving through the area we find several Northern Cardinals along with Mockingbirds. Turning right on Tyree's Access Road, we head west and wind up at the boat ramp there. Looks like a ghost town. The wind is still whipping up whitecaps and we can see why the fishermen are staying home watching preseason football, Go Titans.

We exit the car and the first thing we see is an Osprey looking for his breakfast. With all of the whitecapping, it would be hard to spot a fish just under the surface of the water. The Osprey flys away from us and then circles back, flying straight overhead. We duck our heads, just in case he is looking for a target of opportunity.

Anthony sets Bryce out of the car and we hear a Rufous-sided Towhee singing in the thicket behind us. Bryce turns around and puts his binoculars up to his eyes searching for the Towhee. He is learning fast. Other birds seen in the area are Goldfinch, Rough-winged Swallows and one solitary Double-crested Cormorant. A Black Swallowtail Butterfly flys by and Bryce follows after it.

Driving through the Lagurdo area we find the east side of the lake has a couple of Great Blue Herons wading in the shallow water. Also further up, we fine Great Egrets. These beautiful white birds have slowly been making their way north over the past several years. Some of these beautiful bird's numbers were decimated at the turn of the 19th century just for the feathers that would adorn womens hats.

Taking a right on Burton road, we swing into the Davis Corner Boat Ramp. Sitting atop the lone light pole is the resident Black Vulture. It seems that he is sitting there about everytime we come by. That is probably not the same one each time, as they all look the same. Looking over in the shallow slew to the south, we find more Great Blue Herons and a few more Great Egrets. Taking the road all of the way to the Lonebranch Recreation area, about all we see there is an American Crow and an Eastern Kingbird.

We head on over to the Longhunter State Park to see whats happening there. Taking the trail down by the shores of J. Percy Preist Lake, there is a pretty swift wind blowing there also. The Couchville Lake area has really blossomed into a favorite kayak heaven. This would be an excelent place for beginners to learn the fine art of kayaking because no motorboats are allowed on this lake. Be sure to wear your lifejacket.

Time for our lunch at the Peking Chinese Restuarant and Bryce can sure put away some chicken fried rice. After lunch, we head over to the Cedar City Trail where the bridge spans Bartons Creek. We shoot our video of the week in this location. Off behind us, if you listen carefully to our video, you can hear the song of the Field Sparrow. The video will be on my Facebook page and you can also view it on the Wilson Post Facebook page.

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 you can e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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