Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cicadas, Are They Back?

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Great Egret

This hot and humid weather makes me look forward to fall, with it's milder temperatures where one might just be able to open a window for some fresh air. The rain this week has been avoiding my little yard and it is getting time to drag out the "hosepipe", well that is what most of us southerners call it. I will have to watch my editor, Zack Owensby, as he likes to change some of my ways of talking.

Anthony Gray was a bit early this past Saturday morning and I was already ready. We decided to head west and Coles Ferry Pike was our starting point. We pulled into the Bartons Creek Boat ramp, hoping to give a listen to of the birds in the area. The noise was almost thunderous coming from the "Cicadas" in the trees. With my electronic parabolic turned on, it sounded like a 737 jet fixing to take off.

Is this the year for the 17 year cicadas to dig out of the dirt and start their life cycle all over again. If so, the birds of the air and the fish in the water can get ready for a feast. There are none at my house and my feeders are still going full blast.

Driving out Academy Road, we cross over Highway 109 onto Woods Ferry Road. We make a stop at one of the smaller bridges for a listen. The noise of the cicadas are so loud here we can't even hear the ripple of the creek. Taking a left turn down Tyree Access Road we find ourselves in the back waters of Spencer Creek, a part of Okd Hickory Lake.

At the parking lot of the boat launch area, we hear the call of the Carolina Chickadee. It is singing, "Fe Be-Fe Fay", one of the ways that differ from a Black Capped Chickadee's song. Off in the thicket is a young Rufous-sided Towhee. The reason that I say young is because he isn't singing the proper song of an adult Towhee. Practice will soon make perfect. Even further over the song of a Field Sparrow, just barely makes its way through the din of the still singing cicadas.

Back out on 109, we turn right onto Burton Road and pull through the parking lot at the Davis Corner boat launch. Here we find a Carolina Wren, an annoyed Blue Jay, Crow, and offshore Double Crested Cormorants are trying to catch their Breakfast.

Another bird that we have been seeing here is the Black Vulture. It seems that every time we stop here, we find one of them sitting on top of the light pole there. This time there were seven or eight of them. It seems that fishermen are tossing dead fish on shore and that will make a good meal for them. Most likely taste better than possums.

Leaving there we take a right on Burton Road and pass by the shallow water area to the south. Standing in the shallows we see a Great Egret. This bird is solid white and favors our Great Blue Heron. I am including a picture of both species in this article. Also on this drive we see Indigo Buntings, Gold Finch, Northern Cardinal, and Goldfinch.

Stopping at the Lone Branch Recreation Area, we find more Cormorants out on the Island sitting in the nesting tree. Several fishing boats are flipping their lures in the shallows here. Across from the fishermen we find a lone Great Blue Heron wading in the shallows. While here, I watched a Ruby-throated Hummingbird checking out a cedar tree. There were no flowers here and that had me looking for a nest. None was found.

Driving south on Benders Ferry Road, we hit Highway 70 and head west to Nonaville Road, next to Rice's Ham Store. From there we go north and after several miles we take a right on Saundersville Road up to the Cedar Creek Campground and boat launch.

Looking west, we can still see the Bald Eagle's nest through a hole in the tree line. Out in the shallow section of the lake, where the snake grass grows, we saw a single Great Egret wading. Other birds in the campground were, Bluejays and Morning Doves, along with a squirrel sitting on a low limb grooming itself.

We took the back roads home and drove down Old Shannon Road then left on Pinhook Road. We came across a nice farm with a beautiful garden out front. There were a couple of Purple Martin Houses next to the garden. It was a shame that there were no Purple Martins in the houses. Only House Sparrows.

The House Sparrow was introduced back in New York in 1852 to help control the Linden Moth. The bird loves to be around human populations and since has spread all over the United States. It is not protected and nesting should be discouraged around your house. It will kill Eastern Bluebirds so it can take over the nesting box. Other birds seen in the area was Eastern Meadowlarks, Goldfinch, and Tufted Titmouse.

We then headed back to Lebanon, where we have our Saturday morning ritual of dinner at Peking Chinese Restuarant. While seated my waitress told me that someone in the next dining room was talking about birds. We got to meet Barbara Thomas, who came there for good food and to meet Anthony and I. She was a very charming lady and even had a copy of my, Our Feathered Friends from last weeks, The Wilson Post. We were flattered.

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, Ray Pope
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