Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Spring is for the Birds

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Great Blue Heron

The sun is shinning bright this morning, but there is still a chill in the air that lasted all day long. Next Sunday is Easter, a day most celebrated, really for the wrong reasons. As a child, I couldn't wait to find the eggs that had been hidden by the Easter bunny. As I put away childish things, my heart longs for the true meaning. When our children come to the age of understanding, we must instill the fact that Jesus is the reason of the season. He shed his precious blood on Calvary for the remission of our sins, that we may live forever in heaven, by the light that shines from the Son.

Leaving Peking behind, we head down South Hartman Drive, where the Lebanon High School is situated behind plowed fields, awaiting the planting of seeds to become fruitful plants. In the southern most section, we spot a large flock of Wild Turkey, grazing upon yesterdays missed grains. Anthony Gray spotted them sooner than I could. They were probably close to forty birds in the flock, that was guarded by three old gobblers. The males were identified by their puffed up bodies and wings dragging the ground and by their spread out tail.

Turning right on Leeville Pike we head down to Crowell Lane and then take a left over to Tuckers Gap Road. Headed west we passed by grazing cattle, hoping to spot, at least Eastern Bluebirds. There is not too much moving around, bird wise that is. One lonely looking donkey, pays us little attention, as Anthony does his rendition of "Hee Haw". He sounds like the real deal, when he puts his mind to it.

Going north on Highway 109, we cross under 70 to take a right on East Old Laguardo Road, where the large pond sits next to the road. During Christmas season, this area is so beautiful, with all of the lights and music playing.

Whoa, Anthony! There is a beautiful Great Blue Heron, moving through the water at a snail's pace. Stay right here while I change to my longer lens on my camera. With my camera sticking out the window on the passenger side, I ask him to drive slowly toward the wary bird, who now is wondering what we are up to. Just a little closer, closer, now stop! It is not the best picture that I have ever taken, but it will do. (see photo) His nerves finally gets the best of him and he flies to the other side of the pond, only to start wading back to the middle. I would have thought that it was much deeper than it was.

There is not too much stirring at the boat launch area at the end of Tyree Access Road. There was a pair of Canada Geese, paired off, just waiting for the right time to begin rearing their family. A pair of Pied-billed Grebe spot us and take cover by diving under the waves, only to resurface probably a hundred feet further away. Looking out over the large body of water, we spot what might be Purple Martins hunting insects over the surface. It is time for their return.

Turning onto Burton Road, we pull into the Davis Corner boat launch area, where we spot a plethora of Yellow-rumped Warblers, feeding on the asphalt underneath an Elm tree. We slowly roll the car toward them, but they scatter. Park right here and stay still, I told Anthony, and they will most likely come back. Sure enough, they were not going to abandon the food source and came back. I did manage to get a fairly decent picture of one of them, (see Photo).

Heading west on Burton Road, it soon gives way to Davis Corner road, where we follow it to the end at Benders Ferry Road. Just across is the Lone Branch Recreation Area, where I found the Orchard Oriole nest last year, fashioned entirely of discarded Fishing line. You can see this special nest at the Dixon Merritt Nature Center at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park. It is enclosed in a special glass case with several other nest.

Coming through Mt. Juliet, we take a right on Nonaville Road and then turn onto Saundersville Road stopping at the Cedar Creek Access. Looking across the water we find the small Island is already staked out by Double-crested Cormorants. I would guess that maybe some of them already had laid eggs as some of the nest contained sitting birds. I believe that there will be some competition later with the return of some of our Egret Species, who also nest there.

Finishing out our afternoon of birding, we head out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park to congratulate Diane Oliver on her 10 year service award, presented to her by Deputy State Commissioner of Conservation, Brock Hill. At-A-Girl, Diane.

We finally run into Park Manager, Wayne (Buddy) Ingram to tie up some loose ends for a couple of my bird programs, coming in the first weekend of May and a special 4th of July program. I will have more information on them as the time draws near.

Coming back to my home, we sit out in the back yard, hoping for a flyover of my resident Red-tailed Hawk. She doesn't disappoint, when she comes over at about two feet above the ground, then the last we see of her, she has found a thermal and circles up, up and soon is just a speck against the blue sky. A thermal is an upward surge of warm air that can give a bird lift, without even having to flap it's wings. This is the same principal that makes Vultures fly without any effort.

Please keep my little "Bird Girl" Abigail in your thoughts and prayers. Her mother, Kelly Townes Hall, said that she has been running a temperature of over 100 for several days now. I will personally be happy when I see her smiling face again watching some elusive bird in the outdoors. Get well quickly sweetheart.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking 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, Kelly Townes Hall, Ray Pope, Wayne Ingram
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