Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

Our Feathered Friends

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Thank God for this wonderful weather that we are about to receive. I am so happy to be able to turn off my heater and maybe open a window or two for some much needed fresh air.

Anthony Gray showed up just before eight, hoping to locate a few of our earlier migrants. We headed out Coles Ferry Pike to the Barton's Creek boat ramp where we found maybe a dozen fishermen trying their luck. Mostly more of the common birds were there due to the high traffic.

Headed out in a westerly route, there was one solitary Great Blue Heron, wading belly deep in an old pond. We kind of felt sorry for him as this pond was dry last fall and probably had no fish in it. It's a hard lesson to learn when your stomach goes empty. Does a bird's belly growl when they are hungry, like ours do?

Running out to the end of Davis Corner Road, we came to the Long Branch Recreation area on Old Hickory Lake. The ramp was full of empty boat trailers. Everywhere you looked, there was a boat scooting along trying to outpace some other boat. Double Crested Cormorants took wing, trying to get out of the paths of the speeding boats. The Island had about 50 nests in the tree tops where they are safe from most predators.

We had to go about 12 miles out of our way to get about 400 yards from where we were at the Lonebranch Recreation Area. Cedar Creek Recreation and Camping area is just a little south from our previous spot and where we discovered a Bald Eagle's nest a few weeks ago. Looking back toward the north, we found the Osprey still on the nest at the yacht club.

We barely made out the Bald Eagle's nest because of all of the leaves on the trees. Most of the birds out on the lake scattered when a large barge came into view. I wonder how life on the water might be as it quickly makes the bend in the river.

In the camping area, we found a Common Grackle fleeing the scene of a possible robbery. It looks like he might have looted some child's breakfast of Froot Loops. He sure was in a hurry to get away and didn't share his bounty with the others. Squirrels were everywhere and each camp site seem to have its own furry creature.

While we were in the Mt. Juliet area, we decided to ride out to Longh Hunter State Park where my good friend Jeff Buchanan is the park manager. Being on J. Percy Priest Lake made it a special hot spot for quick day trips, since the park is a day use park. Couchville Lake, which is connected to the main lake only through underground fissures, does not have any boat traffic. This makes it a safe haven for even the newest kayakers.

At the Couchville Lake area, we found two houses full of Purple Martins. Their twittering calls filled the air. Flying along side the Martins, we found several pairs of Barn Swallows that are just starting their nest building underneath the many overhangs at the boat dock. I even had a Martin fly so close to me that I could feel the wind from it's wings on my face.

Up in the top of an Oak tree, we found a male Baltimore Oriole singing. When the sun came out from behind a cloud, the Oriole lit up like a beacon. Up toward the top of the tree, we found probably last year's nest. It was made from discarded fishing line. Some birds might benefit from this, but other wildlife may be harmed by someone's laziness of not disposing of the line in a safe manner.

While we were having our Peking fix, Willis and Liz Franklin stopped in for lunch. They had been camping up at Defeated Creek on Cordell Hull Lake. Liz told me that she chased a Baltimore Oriole all over the place, trying to get a good look at it.

When we got back to my house, we decided to sit out in the backyard and see what was moving about. Up on my Martin house, a pair of Robins had built a nest and we watched as mom and dad brought food to the little ones.

Behind my out shed, a pair of Carolina Chickadees were busy flying back and forth, feeding their young. I haven't tried peeking into their nest to see how many babies were there. I didn't want to upset the parents too much. I would say that they average two trips apiece in one minute.

In another nesting box, a pair of Eastern Bluebirds finally finished their nest, and now two blue eggs have been laid. I believe that they will most likely lay a total of five before they set the clutch. There is a lot going on in my own backyard.

In another of my nesting boxes, I had to evict a red wasp that was planning to build a nest. While the door was hanging open and I was hunting a stick to poke at the wasper, a Tree Swallow was perched on the open door. It didn't fly away as I approached it and it seemed to try and talk to me as I was maybe only a foot away from it. I came back later and sprayed some wasp killer inside, and this time the wasp got a nice bath and staggered over the side of the box. When it hit the ground, my size 13 shoes did the rest. R.I.P.

Also while we were sitting in the backyard, we heard our first House Wren for the spring. It will have to be patient because of the housing shortage here. Maybe I can find an extra nesting box in my shed and get it up in the next couple of days.

I would like to thank Al Kocher for taking pictures with my camera for my Lebanon Senior Citizens bird program at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Al also took some great shots with his own camera.

This coming Saturday, I will be doing a bird walk at 7 a.m. at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. We will be meeting in the parking lot of the Dixon Merritt Nature Center and also later that evening, we will do an Owl prowl as it gets dark. Hope to see you there.

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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