Today is Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Up In Them Thar Hills

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Dam and Bridge Photo by Diana Bright

Waking up this past Sunday morning, I was half expecting to see some snow on the ground. Maybe I got up too late and it had already melted. Anyway, I saw my share of snow while I was up at the Cumberland Mountain State Park back on Friday.

After spending some time in the hospital back during the holidays, I was ready to spend a couple of days somewhere of my own choice. The Tennessee State Park website has what is called their "winter promotion" to get people to stay during a slow time of the season. It will give you 50 percent off of their cabins in most of the parks. The time this winter ran from December the 1st through February the 28th. You have to mention this when you make your reservations with the park. Reelfoot Lake S. P. is not included in the special, because the Bald Eagles are a big winter time draw on their own.

I had reserved cabin seven at the Cumberland Mountain State Park and it had a wood burning fireplace with all of the wood furnished. Since I didn't have any kindling, I took a couple of those fire logs instead. Just light the paper and it will get your big pieces of wood to going.

The next morning, after breakfast, there was a couple of biscuits left over and I tossed the pieces out of my bedroom window for the birds. I could see a few birds off in the distance so I did my "sushing" and they came to investigate. Spotting the pieces of biscuit on the ground, they knew something was ringing the dinner bell. Later I stopped by a Dollar Store and bought a bag of mixed bird seed to spread out on the ground where they had come for the biscuits.

Birds are smart and have a great memory when it comes to a good food source. The next morning as the sun was just lighting up the sky, a pair of Tufted Titmouse were feasting on the scattered seed on the ground. A Downy Woodpecker came in to snatch up a seed and two trees behind it a Pileated Woodpecker showed up. Yellow-rumped Warblers came to eat as so did a family of White-breasted Nuthatches. While all of the feasting was going on, I saw a Brown Creeper circling a tree as it made its way to the top, then fly down to another tree to repeat the process all over again.

I really hated to leave, but this park is located up around Crossville and it was starting to snow. One really special part of the park is an old Dam with bridge built out of Crab Orchard Stone. It was built piece by piece in 1934 by the W.P.A. and the C.C.C., see photo.

Well, it's Saturday morning at around eight in the morning and Anthony Gray is waiting in the driveway. It is a cold 32 degrees out and we decide to head out Leeville Pike and head west on W. Division Street past Mt. Juliet. Here we find a pair of American Kestrals hunting above a small field. One of them darts down to the grass, but we couldn't tell if she caught anything as we had a car on our tail. Not too far up the road, A Red-tailed Hawk was sunning right next to the road while hunkered down to keep off the bighting wind.

Driving on down to Schutes Branch, a large Island is loaded with Great Blue Herons and, even though it is too early for them to be nesting, it looks as if each nest has a pair of them on it. Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls are feeding all over the place. A large raft of American Coots are trying to stay out of the cold north wind and I don't blame them. A pair of Pied-bill Grebes and a couple of Mallards round out the bird life here.

Continuing east on Saundersville Road we drive to the Cedar Creek Recreation Area and boat launch. As we drive up, we are greeted by a small flock of Cedar Waxwings with one lonely Golden Crowned Kinglet in the midst. More Coots are here with a single Great Blue Heron down by the waters edge.

We head back into Mt. Juliet and then north again on Benders Ferry Road. As we drive over a small bridge, sitting on a telephone line, we find a Northern Harrier, formerly known as a Marsh Hawk. We drive up very close to him before he flies off, wishing not to be disturbed. Headed east we drive through Laguardo and we find more Gulls and Great Blues.

A quick stop at the Cherokee Steak house, we find another plethora of Gulls. In behind the boat ramp, giving Anthony the evil eye, was the huge mutant goose looking thingy that wants to eat his face off. Hey Bubba, why don't you get out and feed the ducks? There is no way or power that could drag him out of the car while that thing was there.

Time for our Peking fix and we decide to shoot our weekly video in Anthony's yard. As we pull up in his driveway, we spot a Coopers Hawk sitting on top of his weeping cherry tree, watching the small birds at the feeders and licking his chops.

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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Anthony Gray, Diana Bright, Ray Pope
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