Today is Wednesday, March 22, 2017

On The Road Again, I Hope

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White-breasted Nuthatch

Where has Fall gone to, or maybe why is Summer hanging on so long? Is this some proof that "Global Warming" is true? El Nino? I'm not sure, but I am going to enjoy warm weather while it's here.

Last Saturday, Anthony Gray and I tried to get back in the saddle with our bird watching foray. The morning started out with a temperature of 41 degrees, right chilly when you have been in the 90's. We headed to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park to see what might be lurking there. Stopping at the park headquarters, we find Diane Oliver dressed as a witch.

Halloween has really showed up at Cedars. There are lots of signs pointing the way to ghouls and goblins and maybe even an enchanted forest. I am in hopes of finding a few enchanted birds out there. The first things we hear are Blue Jays and American Crows fussing at something. Could they have found a ghost Owl perhaps.

Driving through the campground we find that most of them are decorated for Halloween. This is something that has been going on for many years now. Diane told me that they had over 800 trick or treaters come to the festivities in the park. All three campgrounds were busting at the seams. My son, Jason Pope was there with his family and some invited friends at my favorite campsite.

Driving on out Cedar Forest Road, headed in the direction of Norene, we pause at the junction of Sue Warren Trail. Long gone are the calls of the White-eyed Vireos and the Common Yellowthroats. These two birds are probably already in South America, enjoying their winter home. I look forward to their return.

There is nothing stirring, so I do a little "shusing", my version of a bird fussing at something out of place. It doesn't take a minute before a Carolina Wren joins in with my "caderwalling" and comes to investigate. This wren has a song, sung mostly during the breeding season which sounds like, "Teakettle, teakettle, teakettle." During the fall and winter season, they sound like someone raking their thumbnail across a hard plastic comb. I'm sure you all have probably done that a time or two. It's been a long time since I have used a comb.

Over in the grown up field, one lonely Field Sparrow is answering us back. These birds are seed eaters and in the undergrowth, there is plenty food to last till next spring. Many of my fellow bird lovers will feed the birds up until spring starts, thinking that wild food is available. Wild seed bearing plants take time for their fruits to develope and I like to keep a source out until that time.

Checking out the decidious woods along the road, we hear the call of the Pileated Woodpecker. We look all over for him, but all we can enjoy is his call echoing through the woods. During the summer months, this area will be inundated with the song of the Red-eyed Vireo. I am thankful that this patch of woods in protected by our Forestry Service and will be here for my future families to enjoy. I almost forgot to mention that we heard a White-breasted Nuthatch up in the trees on our left.

Crossing over Cainsville Road, we head out Sherrilltown Road. This is a very pleasant drive, especially during this time of the year. The fall colors are starting to reach their peak. Down this stretch we find an abundance of Eastern Bluebirds. It seems that Northern Mockinbirds have taken up residence along side the humans that inhabit the area. More Crows are "cawing" at almost every twist and turn of the road. A Red-tailed Hawk is found sitting on an overhead wire, scouting the large field below him, hoping for some movement of an unsuspecting rabbit.

Something else darting across the road turned out to be Chipmunks. I used to see them along the path going down to Jackson Cave in the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, many moons ago. I'll bet that the Red-tailed Hawk would have enjoyed them for a quick snack.

Heading east in Watertown, we start to take a left on Holmes Gap Road, when we hear the cry of a train whistle. Passing us on our right we watch the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum fall color express as it disappeared into the bright colors of Autumn. On out the road, I asked Anthony if he thought he might catch up with the train. Old "Leadfoot" took that as a challenge and we were off to the races. I could see that we were gaining on it, but just behind enough to see the red light on the rear car. Finally we caught up and started around, when we looked over and saw someone on the train taking a video of us, we waved at him.

Turning left on Highway 53 in Alexandria, we head north and in a few miles, we cross over I-40 and through Shaver Town and on through the small town of Grant. Back into Wilson County, we take a right in Tuckers Cross Road onto Big Spring Road. Here we find Rock Doves roosting beneath one of the bridges and one hungry looking Red-tailed Hawk.

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, Diane Oliver, Ray Pope
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