Here is another weather break where it is so warm one day and cold the next. As I write this, it is a warm 69 degrees outside, and by tonight, it will be a cold 33 degrees. That's what they say about the weather here in Tennessee - if you don't like it, wait about 30 minutes, and it will change.
Anthony Gray knocked at my door at 8 this past Saturday morning, right on time. We headed south down Highway 231 and took a short cut over to Old Murfreesboro Road and caught a right onto South Hartmann Drive.
We drove out to the three-story doctors' building where I had been for physical therapy on Friday. As I left the building, getting into my car, I found a couple of White-crowned sparrows feeding beneath the holly shrubs there. We looked but couldn't find any trace of them.
We backtracked to Old Murfreesboro Road and headed south down the curvy road. We found hundreds of American robins everywhere we went. Some people want to see the first robin of spring, but in reality, some of them have never left. We get a certain influx of robins that live in the northern states, and it will be truer concerning the first robin of spring as the calendar says March 20.
We turned left onto Hobbs Lane and found a plethora of Field sparrows. They were making a chipping sound and, at this time of the year, they are not singing. As we headed on down the road, we found a pair of Northern flickers flying overhead. We have the yellow variety here in the South, and the Northern flicker (yellowhammer) is Alabama's State Bird. During the Civil War, several of the fighting men from Alabama were known as "Yellowhammers."
Crossing over Highway 231 and then onto Rocky Valley Road, we found even more robins mixed in with several American crows. Speaking of crows, Anthony must have been listening to several reruns of "Hee-Haw," as he told a corny joke just like you might hear from one of their episodes. It goes "why don't you ever see a crow that has been hit by an auto? Because there is one that always sits on a high limb and warns the others, screaming, 'car, car, car.'" He is worse than Junior Samples.
Off to the right we found several Red-winged blackbirds out close to a large pond. These birds will always nest in the vicinity of water, especially in the midst of cattails. There were more Field sparrows here, along with one Song sparrow singing its song. I believe this warmer weather has gotten the songster warming up for breeding season.
This road has some of the best territory for Eastern bluebirds, and we found several bluebird boxes out in the front yards of several homes along the road. We stopped at several of the culverts, where an ample supply of water runs beneath the road, and heard the "cherwink" call of the Rufous-sided towhee. This bird lives around thickets and scrubby areas. We stopped next to a large pond and found a Chipping sparrow singing there.
Our next stop was the park office at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Several of the trees out next to the pull-in have been cut down. According to Diane Oliver, it is so some of the big campers will have room to safely park while they go in to register. Otherwise, they would stop out in the road, and cars entering the park would have to go around them in a blind spot in the road.
We headed toward Norene, where we heard another towhee. Coming out Cainsville Road, we headed back toward Lebanon, where we found a small gaggle of Canada geese flying overhead. As the road made a few bends, the geese caught up to us, and Anthony clocked them at 45 miles per hour. The speed limit there was 50, so they were at a safe speed.
We turned right onto Beech Log Road and found more Red-wing blackbirds and several families of Eastern bluebirds. Fast-forward through Watertown, and we came to Holmes Gap Road. There we found more flickers along with a pair of Brown thrashers. A small flock of Dark-eyed juncos were feeding beneath and elm tree. Other birds there were blue jays, American kestrels and one Great blue heron, knee-deep in a small stream.
It was time to head back toward Lebanon and a great hamburger at Snow White's Drive-In. we decided to drive out to the old Cedar Grove Cemetery to film our weekly video for Facebook. Be sure to watch, and you can hear Junior Gray tell his joke right out of Kornfield County.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.