Today is Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cold Weather a Coming

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Pied-bill Grebe

There was frost upon the pumpkin this morning and I was happy that I didn't have to get out that early. I will hope that I can hit the Powerball so I can move to Daytona Beach Florida. Just a dream, maybe.

Anthony Gray was running about 45 minutes behind our normal departure time as he was busy the night before with Grandchildren. I believe he is starting to show his age.We decided to head out around our area lakes this morning, in search of nothing in particular. Our first stop was out Coles Ferry Pike where we stopped at the Bartons Creek Boat Ramp.

Passerine birds were scarce here, but we were not disappointed with the water birds. Passerine refers to perching birds, most of what you will find in your own back yard.

Off to our right we find a small group of Double-crested Cormorants. These birds favor some of our ducks and geese while in flight. They mostly swin in the water or sit on logs at the waters edge or old snags out in the middle of the water. Another bird found here is the Great Blue Heron, a wading bird. He, or she will sit motionless for hours waiting for some unsuspecting fish or crawdad to come by. They are not too pickey as to what they will catch and eat, even frogs.

Leaving that spot behind, we head west down Acadamy Road and on across Highway 109 to Woods Ferry Road, where we head north. There is a small branch that passes underneath the road that still has running water in is. This place is inundated with American Robins, maybe a couple of hundred there. As usual, here comes a car and we can no longer linger here. Taking a left on Tyree Access Road will take us down to Spencer Creek on Old Hickory Lake.

Down at Tyree Access, I climb upon my soap box. Some "Idiot" has been out drinking and was too sorry to walk, or maybe in their shape, stumble 15 feet and dispose of their beer bottle trash in a garbage can. I have traveled to Canada and you don't see trash all over the place, but once back in the good old U.S.A., it's trash city. I'm sure the person who left it will not read my article, but it needs to be addressed.

Off in the distance we find several Ring-billed Gulls feeding, probably on shad. These seagulls have followed the mighty Mississippi River up from the New Orleans area. As long as there is an available foor source, these birds will travel to it. Many of the city dumps, especially down in Florida have great numbers of these birds feeding on garbage.

Over in the small slew we find a Great Blue Heron that had just flew in from the open water. He finds his favorite fishing nook and awaits his next meal. Off to the left we find a family of Pied-bill Grebes coming out from behind a boat house. These are diving birds and catch their fish dinner while practially flying underneath the water using lobed toes on their feet. An American Crow spots something floating in the water and makes a quick pass to snatch it up. Crows can't swim and have to catch things like that while on the wing.

Leaving there we take a left back on Woods Ferry Road. In the trees surrounding the narrow road, we find a plethora of Field Sparrows feeding on some kind of seed. This road turns into Bloodworth Road and comes back out on Highway 109. We head north and turn toward the Cherokee Steak House.

We keep out a sharp eye for Anthony's favorite mutated goose from Hades. He is no where to be found, but there is some kind of white goose waddling around. One pair of Canada Geese are feeding along the shore line and a single Pied-bill Grebe is diving in the boat launch area and catching small minnows. We also spot a pair of American Coots hiding out in the snakeweed.

Headed south on 109, we take a right turn on Burton Road and pull into the Davis Corner boat ramp. It is most unusual not to find our resident Black Vulture sitting atop the lightpole there at the ramp. It is not there, but we spot several funnels of Black and Turkey Vultures all during our travels that day.

In the large slew on the south side of Burton Road, there are several Great Blue Herons feeding in the shallows there. Over to the west of them are several Great Egrets. These are very similar to them except they are a beautiful solid white in color. We take a right on Riverfront Road and drive to the western shore of Spencer Creek. In times past we would find Common Loons swimming and diving out in the middle of the lake.

Comming back south on Benders Ferry Road, we make a quick stop at the Lone Branch Recreation Area. Just about all that is stirring is a few more Cormorants. The nesting island is vacant for now, but just wait until spring. Every nest on the island will be full of birds.

We drive around to the Cedar Creek Campground and boat launch ramp, hoping to catch a look at the Bald Eagle's nest. We find the nest, but with all of the leaves still on the tree, we can't see much. We will return to this area later in the year, when the Bald Eagle will be sitting on the nest. I will be sure to bring my 60 power spotting scope. Also down at the waters edge, we find a group of American Goldfinch. They are not easy to identify because of their dull olive appearance.

Coming back to Lebanon for our Peking fix, we spot a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on an overhead wire near Franklins Market. Having a medium size bowl of Hot and Sour Soup, we make plans to shoot our next video out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Out front our little white Tufted Titmouse, "Tut", has returned. I thought maybe he was chased out of another Titmouse's territory during nesting season. Did Tut find a mate? If so, will their offsprings have the same color or not? Coming back to my house, we spot a Coopers Hawk around the old Woolen Mill.

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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