Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ducks of a Feather

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Orchard Oriole Nest Made From Fishing Line

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of Red Bud winter. This is the first of the old timer winters with three, and maybe even four winters to go. These are the cold snaps that hit around spring and are usually gone by the time you get to May. Fishermen will go by these, like the Stripe will be running when the Dogwood tree is blooming. Next after that is the Locust tree, which will mean that the Crappie will be moving up. After that, we will have Blackberry winter. A much lighter cold snap might occur then and is called Cotton Britches winter and then warm weather, and weekly lawn mowing's.

After Anthony Gray picks me up, we head out once again on Coles Ferry Pike. We turn right on Mann Road and make the circle that comes back on Coles Ferry Pike. Back in the 1980's, Anthony helped me build thirty-three Bluebird nesting boxes and we placed them out on that circle. All have disappeared by now, but some of the people have put out replacements over the years. On one of our older bird counts, we counted just over a hundred Eastern Bluebirds on that road alone.

Running down to the Bartons Creek Boat Ramp, we find the parking lot loaded with Dark Eyed Juncos. These snowbirds will soon be headed back north and begin their nesting season.

Over to the east we find a Black-crowned Night Heron. If you are one of the early bird walkers at the Don Fox Park, you might spot one of these on the shore of the Town Creek that marks the northern boundary of the park. Several of my readers have sent me messages over the years to advise me of their sightings of this Heron on the creek there.

We take a right and follow Coles Ferry Pike all the way to the Cumberland River. It's a very cold wind blowing from the north and we don't tarry there long. Just a few Vultures fighting the crosswind and one lonely person fighting the white caps in a kayak. He is braver than me.

We drive over to Spencer Creek to check out Tyrees Access looking for what might just be there. The wind is still blowing and the water is very rough. No water birds here. Heading north we stop at the Martha Gallatin Access and discover several Blue-winged Teal taking advantage of this leeward section of Old Hickory Lake. A pair of Mallard Ducks are in this spot too. A Great Blue Heron stands knee deep in a weed patch with his head ready to spear some unsuspecting fish.

We traveled most of the same path that we trod in last weeks story. Our intention was to collect another Orchard Oriole nest that I spotted last week, almost dangling over the water. The only difference in this nest is that it is constructed of discarded fishing line. We found one of these a couple years ago and donated it to the bird nest collection in the Dixon Merritt Nature Center at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park. I would gladly donate this one to the Longhunter State Park, if they would like to have it for their display.

We head out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park and the first person I see is Glenda Oakley, who has worked at the park forever. Glenda is scattering bird seed on the ground to attract the White Titmouse. If it wasn't for the white Titmouse, they probably wouldn't be feeding the birds there in the first place.

Climbing down the tree head first is a White-breasted Nuthatch, taking advantage of the free meal. Joining in is a pair of Dark-eyed Juncos along with a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Other normal Titmouse join in on the feast.

Inside the office, I find Diane Oliver at the telephone helping a caller with information about the park. Wayne Ingram doesn't realize how special these two ladies are to our park. When someone makes plans to visit, these ladies are the ones selling the park.

Teresa Botts husband Randy spotted a Coopers Hawk out on their patio the other day. Of course he was looking to catch one of Teresa's birds with their back turned. I have one of these Hawks visiting my backyard quite often. There was one out back, just about fifteen minutes ago. Many people hate these Hawks, but they are a necessary nuisance, by weeding out sickly birds and helping the stronger ones to survive.

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, Diane Oliver, Ray Pope, Teresa Botts
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