It sure was nice to finally be able to get back into my regular routine of Saturday bird watching. After our Peking fix, Anthony Gray and I thought it would be a good idea to check out the old blown-out bridge on Cedar Creek at North Dickerson Chapel Road. Well, wouldn't you know it, we were one day too early. The sign on the steel gate says, no trespassing from November 15th through, February the 29th. They must have had the sign made on a leap year.
We leave the gated premises and head back south on the old Hunters Point Pike to hang a right on Burford Road and head down to Blotes Ferry Road. Not too mush stirring there except a few Vultures circling on a slight updraft of warmer air.
Taking a right onto Cedar Grove Road, we pass the burnt out remains of the Cedar Grove Baptist Church where several people were going through the rubble there. I really hate it for them, but through the grace of God, they will rebuild and come back stronger than before. Please keep them in your prayers.
Next stop, Bartons Creek boat ramp. Getting out of the car, Anthony started hearing things that I couldn't hear. My right ear is about half way stopped up and things sound muffled. I really hope this will improve before spring migration starts up. He did bring me my electronic parabolic microphone from the car so that I could hear what he was hearing. Sometimes at this time of the year, birds will not sing their signature song, but chips and chirps. It finally came to mind as to what was making the sound, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. One of their calls, kind of sounds like a cat mewing.
Walking up an old path, I could see what was remaining of some yellow looking bird. At first glance, it appeared that it was maybe what was left of an Eastern Meadowlark. But after closer examination, it's tail feathers told me that it was a Northern Flicker, a yellow shafted one. Tail feathers on Woodpeckers are stiff and come to a slight point, where they help them hold on to a tree. About thirty feet up the path, I found the remains of an Eastern Bluebird. Both of these kill were fairly fresh. Looking over in the trees across the creek, we spotted what probably was the culprit. A female Coopers Hawk swooped over the creek to come in behind where we had discovered the crime scene. A boat probably spooked her, causing her to drop her lunch. Yes, there were boats out on the lake today.
Traveling on down to the end of Coles Ferry, we got out and looked out toward the Gallatin steam plant at all of the Sea Gulls, loitering about on the old dead trees in the water. A couple of Double-crested Cormorants came flying by, probably looking for a place less crowded.
Coming to the Tyree Access, we watched a couple hundred or more Ring-billed Gulls, wheeling and soaring over head on Spencer creek. Being this close to the river, the creek was at least a quarter mile wide at this point. Anthony retrieved my camera from the car and I was going to try and capture some of the gulls on camera. I should have brought my tripod, but I didn't think about that until it was too late. Anthony went back to the car and grabbed an old mop handle and placed about ten inches of broken asphalt in a stack, where I could balance my camera on the makeshift monopod. It did work for what I was trying to accomplish, (see photo). Other birds there were Common Loons, Double-crested Cormorants, and Piedbill Grebes.
Headed north on Woods Ferry Road, we slowed down to get a look at some birds flitting about in a fence row. At first, it looked like a Hermit Thrush, but when we got a little closer, it was a pair of Brown Thrashers. I usually have a nesting pair here at home each year. Turning right onto Bloodworth Road, there were several dark birds in an old briar tangle. Rolling down my window, I started my shushing sound, and in an instant, we were greeted to the antics of a pair of Fox Sparrows and a single Chipping Sparrow. I had a photo of the Fox Sparrow in last weeks article.
Stopping at the Cherokee Steak House, we paused to feed the ducks there. Anthony's old mutant goose friend was waiting for him to get out of the car. I had to stand between the two so he could purchase duck food out of the dispensers.
Coming back south from there we turned right on Burton Road, where the old Harold's Ark used to be. Over in the slew to the south there were anywhere from 300 to 400 Gulls milling about catching fish. It reminded me of one of Bill Dance's tips for locating fish in an unfamiliar lake. "Look at the birds", he would say. There is small baitfish there, and the big bass will not be far behind. Driving back down Alhambra Drive, Anthony exclaimed, "there is where we saw the Weide Wackers"!.... What!! Oh yeah, you meant to say Cedar Waxwings. In his excitement, his words sometimes get a little jumbled. Sometimes he " cain't spleak splain for spluttering". He is always good for a laugh or two.
My good friend Liz Franklin was telling me about her granddaughter, Chloe Weitzel and her love of birds. Chloe got her camera out and took a picture of a female Northern Cardinal on top of one of their shepherds hooks, (see photo). I am always proud to see some of our younger children taking an interest in our feathered friends. She is 9 years old, plays soccer, and goes to Byars Dowdy Elementary School. Chloe also loves photography.
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