Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Road Less Traveled

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Cedar Waxwings, Photo by Kelly Townes Hall



This has got to be the quickest year in my life, and now Thanksgiving is just two weeks away. I do believe that real cold weather has arrived much sooner than it has in years past. It's kind of funny to not see any wild Turkeys out and about this week. They always seem to be in abundance any other time of the year. Word must have gotten out.

Anthony Gray picked me up for our normal bird watching outing this past Saturday. Of all of the directions we could head, east and north seem to be the best locations for what we are looking to do. We considered the roads that we traversed last week and thought that we would do it again, this time in reverse. When you go down a road, you get familiar with it from that perspective, so we started it from where we had finished during last weeks trip.

Headed out through the community of Bellwood in eastern Wilson County we turned left onto Conatser Road. It did look different from this end, but the birds must have been in hiding, probably because of the cold spell. American Crows seemed to be the only thing that we could hear. Rounding the curve on down the road, we thought that we had come upon a small flock of Turkeys over in a corner of a large field. As we got closer, we could see that they were Black Vultures gathered around some kind of carcass, maybe a dead dear.

Somehow, we missed a turn and then found us on, Spar Mine Road, presumably over in Smith County. There in a thicket, we saw a small flock of some kind of sparrows. They wouldn't fly up for us to get a better look so they went unidentified. With most of the vegetation turned brown after the freeze, the birds blended into the background as they flew away.

Taking a left on Hiwasee Road, we found ourselves coming into Trousdale County toward the Old Hartsville Pike. We ran all the way out to the Cumberland River bridge before turning around and then headed back toward Lebanon. There was a pair of Red-tail Hawks circling overhead and farther down the road, there was another pair off in the distance sitting in a large tree overlooking a huge hay field most likely waiting for a rabbit dinner. When you find a mated pair together, it makes it easier to tell the sexes apart. In our birds of prey, the females will be the larger of the two.

We headed out Beasleys Bend Road till we spotted some bird action over in the trees by the parking lot at the Cedar Creek Baptist Church. Pulling in, we watched a couple of Carolina Chickadees feeding on something underneath the trees. They were soon joined by a couple of Tufted Titmouse, looking to see what they were eating. Anthony hollered, "there is something coming down the tree trunk", and thought that he spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch. He was right and he is getting better at his bird identification and maybe one day, be able to take my place. Another bird was flitting about in the tree tops there and it was a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

In total, there were about fifteen Red-tailed Hawks that were seen during the day and maybe the same number of American Kestrals, formerly known as a Sparrow Hawk. One lone Red-bellied Woodpecker was heard, but not seen.

My good friend, Kelly Townes Hall and her daughter Abigail sent me some pictures of a flock of Cedar Waxwings drinking from her birdbath along with an American Robin, (see photo). A first time bird in her yard turned out to be a White-breasted Nuthatch. Kelly had a total of 14 different species drinking at her watering hole. It pays to keep out fresh water to give our feathered friends a helping hand. You never know what will turn up.

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 you can e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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Anthony Gray, Kelly Townes Hall, Ray Pope
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