Friday, December 10, 2010

Late Autumn - But Winter Has Arrived

- Two nights ago, leaving a restaurant on the edge of town.....the unmistakeable chortle of Sandhill Cranes came cascading down through the darkness. We stopped. All listened. One asked me..."What in the world is that sound?"...."Mother Nature in motion" I answered. "What?" The sound was continuous, over a period of several minutes. The night was cloudy, and cold, so our party did not allow the serenade to last too long. As we drove away, I explained in detail what we had heard. There must have been hundreds of the birds, in several groups, for the sounds to have lasted so long. They were headed southeast, most likely to the Hiwassee National Refuge on The Tennessee River, a staging area that has been documented previously in this journal. The Sandhills are a bit late arriving in our area this year, compared to the last several. I first heard a group of them, almost inaudible they were so high in the air, while on a hike, on November 30th.

- Seasonably cool...mid to upper 40s..... with a veil of cirrus/cirrostratus clouds filtering the sunlight most of the day.

- The first noticeable snow this year was on November 5th....only a trace on the leaves. Similar earlier this week. If the forecast holds, it appears the Cumberland Plateau may get a bit of snow on Saturday night and Sunday of the coming weekend. Good chili or beef stew weather.
- I am seeing a lot of hawks....have spotted the following this week: Broadwing, Cooper's, Sharp-Shinned, Sparrow, and Red-Tailed.....One of the Kestrels (Sparrow Hawk) was perched on a utility line, prey draped over the wire, held by talons. Despite the cold wind, the bird seemed to be enjoying the catch of the moment.....a mouse taken from a roadside field. Too much traffic for a photo. Red-Tails love to perch atop roadside utility poles while surveying the fields....a tip that could lead to a good photo opportunity of this very common Buteo.

- Enjoyed receiving nature/wildlife photos from several residents/landowners recently. A few of them are included....from top to bottom....
1) Decisions - give up or try again?
2) What a pose....the posture of this animal seems almost artificial. This 8-point buck was attempting to obtain a snack from the wildlife feeder of Harold and Marcia Bibb, who submitted this photo as well as the next one....a great photo of deer at the feeder, taken recently on a cold frosty morning, as the sun first made an appearance over the eastern mountains. Thank you Harold and Marcia.
3) A noisy mountain of the most soothing sounds in all of nature. Thank you Terry and Nancy Jennings (taken from their property).
4) A magnificent taken from the front porch of Rick and Linda Meck of Stone Creek. Thank you Rick and Linda.


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