Thursday was my birthday, so I took the day off. Unfortunately, Keith had to work. I have also been fighting some neck and shoulder pain, which has been pretty serious at times. But I was determined not to let those issues stop me from enjoying my day! There is a TN State park in Nashville called Radnor Lake. I had so far avoided it, because they have a mind boggling list of “No-s”, such as: No Pets. No Food. No Running. No Musical Instruments.. seriously, it’s Nashville, after all.. plus, it is usually crowded. I only went once, when my friend, uber-birder Beth, visited last year, because it is supposedly a great place to see Barred Owls. Unfortunately, no owls were present that day.
But I remembered it was a nice hike, so I decided to give it one more chance. Thursday was a cold, cloudy day, and not many people were there. There was also a lot of trail maintenance with heavy machinery going on, so the ranger informed me there might not be many birds. My first little treat was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, which seemed totally unafraid as it picked at juniper branches only a few feet away – I got great looks at the top of his little ruby crown! But I didn’t have my camera out. Lesson learned, I put on the telephoto lens.
I saw a small mixed flock of birds rustling around in some brush, and was trying to ID them when a couple of people walked up. The guy peered into the bushes, too, and wanted to know what I was so interested in. When I told him, “just some little birds”, they walked off. I followed shortly. Just about 50 yards further down I sensed something and stopped.. to my left, just above eye level, was a Barred Owl, sitting 12 feet off the path! The couple had walked right past it! The owl blinked at me several times, turned its head, and dismissed me as unimportant. I guess the heavy human traffic has these guys pretty inured to humans!
Other highlights were almost tame deer – one was playing with a twig, then gave me a classic portrait..
and at one point something small hit my head, then another.. I thought it was hailing, but it turned out to be wood chips! A Pileated Woodpecker was quietly excavating a hole just above me! I would never have known if I hadn’t gotten hit. My picture taking didn’t disturb him in the least!
Hope you enjoy the nature walk as much as I did!