My usual Saturday morning ritual went according to plan, thanks to Anthony Grays appointed time to dig out the money to buy us our favorite Chinese dinner at Pekings. Next week, we'll have to change tactics and go out to Brenda and Harry Jennings for an afternoon meal at their home in Lancaster. Anthony said to make sure to bring your camera and binoculars, you never know what will show up. I learned a lesson this past Saturday about that.
After refueling, we headed north on 231 out towards Hunters Point hoping to catch a look at some of the ducks on the Cumberland River. The river was running a little on the swift side and looked like a cup of coffee with cream. With all of the rain the other day, there was no wonder why it was muddy. The only thing flying around was a few Ring-billed Gulls, but I thought that maybe there was an Osprey flying a little farther down stream.
Just to see some ducks, we headed over the bridge into Trousdale County and stopped at the foot of the Nathan J. Harsh bridge to look over in the flooded refuge area. This new bridge sure takes the fright out of the narrowness of the old steel one that used to span the river there. I remember my Dad, Vernon Pope telling me that he could hear the men constructing on the bridge plumb over where he grew up down Beasleys Bend Road. The thought of hearing the rivets being used took me back for a few years. Wouldn't time travel be fun?
Back to the ducks, the ones closest to the bridge scattered as soon as they caught sight of us. They must be wary from all the hunters that they have dodged on their way to here. Everything that I could see was Mallards. Back in the mid 1970"s, John Sellars and myself would walk to an old house built on the south bluff of the river, where we could use a spotting scope to look down on some of our winter visitors. It was this spot where we watched five Tundra Swans swimming around with the other waterfoul. I know who owns the house, but I would hate to invade their privacy just to get a good look over in the refuge.
We then headed out Canoe Branch Road, driving all of the way to the game farm out where the river flows by. I am pretty sure that it is still staffed by the TWRA people that work there. All of the ponds were iced over and there was no available open water for ducks to feed. We parked up close to the gate and walked down towards the river. To start with there was nothing stiring about until I started my "shushing" sound, which sounds like a Carolina Wren fussing about something. Out of the corner of my eye was a slight movement in the midst of a small cedar tree. It kept moving about and finally I was able to get a good look at it. It was a female Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Its been maybe ten years that I have seen one of these birds. Each new bird that I encounter, I want to make sure that Anthony gets a good look at it. You can study about birds all day long, but it is when you can apply these principals to real life, the fun begins. I am not going to be here a whole lot longer and I wish to pass on my knowledge of birds to someone with passion.
Just a few trees from where the Kinglet was, Anthony saw something that he was not familiar with, and had the dog-gonest time showing me where he was looking. When this bird is sitting on a limb, it is hard to focus on it unless it moves. This was another bird that I haven't seen for many years too. I was telling Anthony that its habits were exactly opposite of the way the Nuthatches would climb. A Nuthatch will circle a tree starting at the top and work its way down, while the Brown Creeper will start at the bottom and then make its way to the top of the tree. Two new birds for Anthony should give him some time for thought.
After leaving the north part of the county behind, we thought that we might check Bartons Creek, where it flows under Maple Hill Road. Especially during the spring, there is always a few good birds hanging about there. During warmer situations, we usually find a pair of Wood Ducks and several different Sandpipers eating on some of the abundant food in the area. Anthony heard what sounded like a person beating on a piece of lumber with a hammer, but it was a beautiful female Pileated Woodpecker making toothpicks out of a half dead Maple tree, just twenty feet from the road, in perfect light conditions for a great picture. This was my lesson for the up coming year, Bring my Camera!
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, Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, firstname.lastname@example.org