Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Go West Young Man

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Barn Swallow

I wrote about the diorama of Bairds Mill in our last weeks, The Wilson Post and the community that sprang up around it. This past Friday, they had the dedication at the Dixon Merritt Nature Center, with Park Manager, Wayne, (Buddy) Ingram, Bill Baird, direct decendant of the Baird family, Peter Burrs, and Stanley Merritt. This will be on permanent display at the nature center at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park.

While there we enjoyed refreshments and quite a large crowd of folks that came to the dedication program. I got to meet a couple of my readers, David and Patti Major, also at the nature center for the unveiling. Patti was telling me that she has learned to identify many of the birds at their home by reading my, Our Feathered Friends. When I hear this, it helps me to keep moving forward with my stories.

Another good friend was also there. Former Ranger, Jeff Buchanan, who worked for "Cedars" moved on to be the new park manager at Long Hunter State Park. I was telling Jeff about some of the stories that I had written about the Cedars of Lebanon State Park when he said, "why don't you come out to my park more often"? I will take that under advisment.

This past Saturday, Anthony Gray picked me up and said, where to today? I said, west, young man, head west, I've heard that expression somewhere in my life. Alright Jeff, you talked me into it.

We pulled into the parking lot at the park office and they must have known that I was coming. There was a reception committee waiting for me, almost forty feet up in a tall oak tree. His song was beautiful and most pleasant, but his clothes were slightly ragged. A male Summer Tanager, our only solid red bird. During breeding season they are a brilliant red, but time and weather can take a toll on their feathers.

Entering into the park office, I tell the reception that I would like to speak to Jeff. Oh, he doesen't work on Saturday, but he will be here tomorrow. Jeff is and has always been a hard worker, but I still felt the need to pick on him a bit.

We drive on around to the Couchville Lake area, hoping to find a few Gulls and other shore birds. This lake is a perfect spot for someone wanting to paddle a canoe without getting swamped by some of the larger boats that ply the waters of J. Percy Priest Lake. It is landlocked, but connected through underground cracks in the limestone.

Walking out on the wooden fishing pier, we spot several Barn Swallows that have built their mud nest on the underside of the pylons that hold up the roof. Some of the nest are empty, but several have young almost ready to take their first flight. The adult birds, wheel and dart over the lake there, catching flying insects to bring back to the nest. I try very hard to catch a parent bird feeding their little ones, but they don't stay too long at the nest before they take off again in a blur.

Driving over to another picnic area, I try to listen for some bird song on the wind, but all we hear is those cicadas, just like last week. It looks like there must have been a fishing tournament somewhere because of all of the empty boat trailers parked there.

We take the long way home, driving down towards the Horn Springs Resort, stiring up hidden memories of times past. We used to go swimming there many years ago and it had the coldest waters of anywhere that I had ever swam in. For several years we had the Lux Clock annual picnic there.

Each week we tour the backroads around the spot where we released the Red-tailed Hawk, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of her. I was so happy to have played a part in her rehabitation.

After a delicious meal at Peking, we soon find it too hot to sit outdoors and enjoy the confines of my air conditioned home. Watching just outside of my kitchen window, two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds seem to be having a knock down, drag out brawl over who owns the feeder there. Just wait towards the end of August and you will see them much more often. Place out several feeders for maximum results. It is worth the money spent on sugar to watch the little scrappers.

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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Our Feathered Friends
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Anthony Gray, Ray Pope, Wayne Ingram
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