Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Our Feathered Friends

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Baltimore Oriole, Male
Crowned Night Heron

Diana Bright and I headed west to visit her first great grandson in Savannah, Tennessee, last Friday. There is no direct route in that direction and it seemed to take all day. On the way back, it came a frog strangler, heavy rain for the ones not fluent in deep Southern. Speeds were reduced to 40 miles per hour, and we didn't get out of it till we turned onto 840 in Dickson.

On the way, we did stop at David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg. Singing in the treetops was a male Summer Tanager, our true red bird. There is a lot of history in our state parks. Davey Crockett had a powder and grist mill here in 1821, but it was washed away in a flood. Later after his time in Congress, fighting for people's right, he joined up with a bunch in San Antonio, Texas, where he died at the Alamo.

Anthony Gray picked me up bright and early Saturday morning. We headed west on Coles Ferry Pike and dropped by the Bartons Creek Boat ramp. Several people had already staked out their favorite fishing spots. Over to the right, we heard the call of the Prothonotary Warbler. This is one of the brightest yellows I have ever seen in the bird world. They make their nest in an abandoned woodpecker nest and always will be found around water.

Headed back to Old Hickory Lake, we stopped at Tyree's Access and heard the song of an Eastern Bluebird. The person who owns the property has a dark wooden fence on both sides of the road, and keeps the property looking good. There were Bluebird houses along the way, and each one seemed to have a family living in them.

Coming back to Burton Road, we found the boat ramp at Davis Corner completely full of fishermen. There must have been some fishing tournament going on somewhere close. Birds we found there were several Ring-billed Gulls and one lonely Black Vulture. It seems that every time we stop there, we will always find a Vulture, perhaps waiting on someone's dead fish.

Looking over in the shallow slew, we found Great Blue Herons posted on just about every snag in the water. Also back toward the south end there were several Great Egrets. These birds resemble the Great Blues, except that they are snow white in color.

Headed on down Davis Corner Road, we made a stop at the Lone Branch Recreation Area and boat ramp. We found several Canada Geese families along with their smaller young ones. Some of them looked very similar to their parents, but a tad smaller. It had begun to rain again, and I was ready to get back into the car and travel on. We were trying to locate one of the nesting Orioles that should have been there, but the leaves on the trees were too thick.

North of Mt. Juliet, we headed north on Nonaville Road and took a right on Saundersville Road. This took us out to Cedar Creek Recreation Area and Campground. This is a pay area that is governed by the United States Corp of Engineers. It is a very beautiful campground and always seems to be full.

On the back side we could see the Osprey Nest with both mom and dad sitting atop the platform. I sure wished that I had brought my spotting scope with us on this trip. There were probably babies deep in the nest where we couldn't see them.

Singing overhead we spotted a Baltimore Oriole. I wondered if that one will be weaving its nest from fishing line? Usually they will use grasses instead. The beautiful orange feathers almost seem to be on fire if seen in bright sun light.

To our left, there was a strange looking contraption sitting on a platform of concrete. I was thinking that it might be a Chimney Swift tower. There were several flying out over the water and coming back toward us. Chimney Swifts are losing territory right and left. People nowadays cap off their chimneys to keep out the birds. During our winter months they live down in Peru where it is summer.

Looking out over the Cumberland River, we could still just make out the Bald Eagles' nest in the tree line. We searched back and forth, hoping to get a glimpse of one of them. There was so much more boat traffic there, but it didn't seem to scare the Double-crested Cormorants away. The island was still full of nesting Cormorants, each one protecting their nest from the others that also nest close by.

Just overhead we watched a Black-crowned Night Heron flying away from his roosting spot by a boat that ventured too close. These birds are mostly nocturnal, but can be found during the day. There used to be a pair of them that stayed close to the Don Fox Park here in Lebanon.

Walking back toward our car, a pair of white domestic ducks came running hoping for a handout. Sorry fellows, we brought no bread with us this trip. Wait a minute, I did have a pack of those orange crackers filled with peanut butter. I took one out, broke it up and tossed it on the parking lot. One taste is all it took for them to spit it out. Well buddy, you just caused me to waste my snack on you. The five-second rule doesn't apply here because of where I had tossed it. At least a pair of Cardinals came by and finished off the rest of it.

Sitting at Peking, we watched as the bottom fell out raining. It came down so hard, I couldn't even see Bargain Hunt across the street. It was really nice to have been blessed with the rain this weekend. I had just finished transplanting some Zinnias, hoping to attract some butterflies and this should give them a head start.

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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