Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

Liquid Gold

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Loggerhead Shrike

I am sitting in front of my computer writing my article and listening to the rain patter against my window. With all of my garden finally planted, it is still such a job staying ahead of the abundance of weeds that the rain has also helped. I am not complaining and had rather have the liquid gold that makes things grow instead of running the hosepipe. Anthony Gray didn't get the time to join me this past Saturday, so I invited Diana Bright to go along, hoping to fill her world with avian wonder. My good friend Steve Hornsby showed me a picture that was taken in font of our National Guard Armory of an adult Bald Eagle standing out in the open grassy area. Steve said that he didn't take the photo, but was shared with him from another friend. We drove over to this area hoping to find the Bald Eagle, but he was a no show. Have any of you heard of an Eagle in this vicinity? Driving on out to the blown-out bridge on South Dickerson Chapel Road, the abundance of Black Vultures seemed to say that hay cutting time was at hand. When these huge mowers are out and about, it seems to have some kind of mortality on the creatures that lives in the wild. Water levels were up above the surface of the bridge and only one solitary person braved the weather to get out and about. I need to get my fishing license this year and check on drowning a few worms or minnows. I have trouble baiting my own hook with my bad hand and seem to release more crickets into the wild than what I can get onto my hook. Leaving there we head out to Beasleys Bend Road where we take a right on Ford Road till we run into the Old Hartsville Pike. Running north I glance into the rear view mirror and can see ominous dark clouds creeping our direction. In between the rock ledges of the new highway we spot Rough-winged Swallows flying in tight formation with their new youngsters in tow. How fun it must be to not be tied to this earth and catch the freedom of the air. I have always dreamed of being able to fly on my own, if only in my own mind. Turning around it takes no time at all before we drive straight into the wet stuff. I am afraid that some people have forgotten about wet weather taking a toll on tire traction as we approach North Hartmann Drive on Highway 231. There we have to go around about a six car pileup. Seems like the first car stopped on a dime. Another beneficial bird that you might see out into the country is the Loggerhead Shrike, or the "Butcher Bird". Loggerhead Shrikes, (Lanis ludovicianus) catches large insects or small rodents and then impales them on thorns or even barbed wire fences, then returns later to consume his dinner. In some places they will even catch snakes and then hang them up for later consumption. The shrike has a gray head and back, white underparts with black wings and tail. A black mask covers the eyes, kind of giving it that (Lone Ranger) look. A large curved beak gives him the look of a Hawk. These birds are still found out in the country, but suffer at the hands of more and more people moving out and clearing their habitat. Driving out Coles Ferry Pike we soon cross Bartons Creek and pull into the boat ramp where it is packed with people fishing. I'm starting to get the itch again. Birds in this area seem to be scarce, probably because of all the people there. I think, I'll head back home to refill my bird feeders. As my resident family of Downy Woodpeckers continue to be ever present at my up-side-down suet feeder, their larger cousin the Red-bellied has started to show up and carry beak full amounts of suet back to their well hidden nesting hole. I expect to see young "Peckerwoods" trying out their newly fledged wings before too long and making visits to my suet feeders, just like their smaller cousins. I must put extra suet cakes on my growing list of groceries. 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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