Thank God for this wonderful rain that has started falling this past Sunday. Even yesterday, Saturday the 3rd of December, as we traveled through our wonderful Cedars Of Lebanon State Park and Forest, we noticed how dry things still are and only one careless toss of a cigarette could put us in the news like the Gatlinburg fire. Keep praying for rain friends.
Anthony Gray picked me up a little before eight this past Saturday morning and we headed south again. We ran down the old Murfreesboro Pike and then took a left onto Hobbs Lane. It took me a minute to get on my parabolic microphone so I could listen to the birds, near and far. Anthony was busy on his own, trying to locate the small tablet that he keeps in the car to write down the birds we see and where they are found. No tablet this week, so he uses the back page of a word seek book that was in the side pocket of the front door.
Over to our right, we find a Chipping Sparrow. Most birds are quiet during the winter months, with a few exceptions like American Crows and Bluejays. This little fellow was feeding on some kind of a small hard berry bush. There are so many things we see that really doesn't register as a food source until we see something eating from it.
We cross over Highway 231 and find ourselves on Rocky Valley Road, a drive that is most pleasant during the spring. Rounding the first curve, we come upon a thicket of woods next to the TVA power lines. Off in the distance Crows are Cawing. Closer to the car we find Bluejays working the trees for their breakfast. I now have the window down, listening to see if there are other birds in the distance.
Up toward the top of the hill we hear the call of the Pileated Woodpecker. The Pileated Woodpecker is our largest and I have lots of friends that e-mail me of their sightings. I try to schedule one of my Woodpecker programs a couple times a year for the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center. Teresa Botts will load up the City of Lebanon van and bring several interested friends out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park campground where I will call up several of the Woodpecker species.
This past spring, we called up a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, our smallest, and they came flying in within a minute of me calling them. Each time they heard my call, they would flit around the trees surrounding us, just above our heads, trying to locate the stranger that has come into their territory. We had the same luck with a pair of Red-bellied and Red-headed Woodpeckers.
The "coup de gras" was when I tried calling in the Pileated Woodpecker. A pair of them came swooping in, right in the midst of us and landed no higher then eight or ten feet above our heads. The oversized head would put one in mind of Woody Woodpecker, except that they wouldn't say "guess who." We will plan another trip out to the park for Woodpeckers come spring. I will let you know when and where so some of you might enjoy seeing them.
We watched as an older Fox Squirrel came sauntering across the road and through the fence. It paid us no attention as it casually climbed up a tree. We deduced it to be older because of the massive amount of grey hair in it's tail. We could be wrong though.
On down the road, next to a small pond at the side of the road, several more Bluejays and a couple of Northern Cardinals were seen feeding around the water. This must be a spring fed pond because we have never seen the water level drop, even when the small streams in the area are bone dry. On up ahead we see a Turkey Vulture sitting in the top of a large oak tree. He is probably hoping for the sun to come out and warm him up.
As we head south on Highway 231, we turn left into the entrance of the Cedars of Lebanon State Park. We stop at the office and are greeted by Glenda Oakley, who tells us that Tutt, the white Tufted Titmouse is still hanging around. Diane Oliver also comes out from the back to say howdy. We always stop to see them because they know so much about what is going on inside the park.
We watch through the window as Carolina Chickadees and several Tufted Titmouse feed on the generous amount of seeds tossed out by the park ladies. All of a sudden, Tutt comes swooping in to claim his share of the bootie. He is almost a pure white in color and looks almost regal. Tutt had disappeared back in the spring, probably because of a territory dispute with another male Titmouse.
Headed toward Norene, we turn onto Blue Well Road. There seems to be ample water coming up from the spring there as it flows through a culvert. We find a couple of Northern Flickers sitting on the concrete top of the culvert. It is a good find.
We come back out on Cainsville Road and pass through the small community of Cainsville until we cross over into Rutherford County. Here we take a left turn onto Oregon Road. Here we find one lonely Dark-eyed Junco. They are easy to spot with a trained eye, if you look for the white tail feathers that show when they are flitting around. We take a left onto Charles Smith Road and find Field Sparrows along the open field there.
On down where Dillon Road runs back into Cainsville Road, we watch as an American Kestral hovers above a hay field looking for dinner. Speaking of dinner, our stomachs are growling and Peking is now getting ever closer. It has been a fruitful morning and after dinner we go to the Wilson County Veterans Plaza to shoot our weekly video. We miss Diana Bright that usually shoots our video for us.
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