Wednesday, February 17, 2021

More birds, fog on Monteagle and snow in Nashville

Last Christmas morning, you may remember that I mentioned on my blog post "Cooking for the Holidays" that I had been surprised by a murmuration of starlings in my backyard. But this time the birds were robins, a flock of them. They flew on my back deck, so many I stopped counting at 45. They kept moving and it was difficult taking photographs. I decided to just concentrate on individual birds. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
I enjoy watching birds but am not knowledgeable about them. I read up on the robin - the American robin is a large songbird with long legs, round body and a fairly long tail. They are the largest of the thrushes here. American settlers named these birds "robin" because they looked like the European robins, but actually they are not from the same family. The American robin is from the subspecies of Turdus migratoris. The European robin is from the subspecies of Saxicolinae. They both have a reddish orange breast, although not as pronounced in the European robin. In winter the American robins form flocks (sometimes hundreds or thousands of them,) to avoid predators. During the spring and summer they are mostly independent. They came in my backyard two consecutive mornings, flying from the trees to my deck or the ground.
The third morning I looked for them, but they did not come back. But I have many postcards with robins on them. Robins were a favorite subject on vintage greeting postcards, especially during the winter holidays.
In January I missed my monthly trip to Georgia because I was waiting for the Covid vaccine. I finally received the first shot on January 28th. Then I drove to Georgia for about 10 days in early February, returning last Sunday. The trip to Georgia took 6 hours because of road work being done on interstate 24 close to Chattanooga. After driving for one and a half hour for what usually takes 20 minutes I took the side trip through the North Georgia Mountains. It took as long but I was rolling. Coming back last Sunday I was hoping the trip to Nashville would be faster, even though I am always apprehensive about the mountains near Monteagle, Tennessee. And sure enough - I drove through Chattanooga under overcast skies with no problems, but then as I ascended the steep incline towards Monteagle I entered the fog. The trees and vegetation had suddenly appeared covered with ice. As the fog kept thickening I decided to exit the highway at the travelers' rest stop. A good thing I knew its location, too, because the exit ramp was barely visible. As it is, a huge truck could not see it and at the last minute veered in front of me toward the rest stop (giving me a shot of adrenalin...)
Parking the car carefully I decided to take my time, eat my snack and drink coffee in the car hoping the fog would lighten up. There were only a couple of other vehicles and they departed. I kept watching the trees. I thought when I can see them better I'll start driving again.
About 45 to 50 minutes later I started seeing the trees.
I had heard sounds of engines nearby but seen no vehicles. I came out of my car to check. Surprise! I could count as many as 14 or 15 snow trucks parked behind me and more were coming. I became worried that maybe Nashville was under heavy snow. I asked one of the drivers where were they heading - Memphis, Tennessee he replied. Why? It's going to snow heavily starting on Monday there and they have hardly any equipment he said.
I forgot to ask about Nashville weather, so I decided to start moving down the steep downgrade. I did not need to drink coffee to stay alert while driving down that dangerous descent - it always gets my undivided attention. In the 1980s that stretch of east-bound I-24 was notorious for killing truck drivers. Later they improved the interstate there but crossing Monteagle is still one of the most notorious stretches of mountains interstate east of the Mississippi. With some trepidation I began driving following a couple of 18-wheeler trucks. Visibility became better as I came down the road.
Traffic close to Nashville was very light. Bad weather was forecast and motorists had been told to stay inside. It was dry when I arrived at my house but by evening it started snowing. On Monday the roads were covered with snow and it was very cold. It snowed during the night and today, Tuesday 16 February, 2021, not much is moving. The temperature is a frigid 13 degrees F (-10C) which is unheard of around here. It did snow heavily in Memphis - up to 12 inches yesterday (30.5 cm) so those snow trucks I had seen were certainly needed. I realized that today is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French.) How I wish I was in New Orleans! Because of the virus they are not having their usual parades. The parades are cancelled, but not the Mardi Gras celebration. Instead the residents, who love a party, are decorating their houses to celebrate. I looked at the New Orleans site and a couple of newspapers. Photographs below courtesy the Gentilly Messenger and Allen Boudreaux.
Since there would be no parade this year, Megan Joy Boudreaux asked everyone to turn their house into a float, as a joke. But the idea took off and she started a Facebook group, the Krewe of House Floats, for her neighbors. Then 39 subgroups joined with more than 9,000 members. Thousands made "house" floats. Vive New Orleans and its great spirit that a pandemic cannot suppress!
It has been frigid here all day. It looked so pretty though that I thought I'd walk around the block to take pictures. A couple was coming down the road with walking sticks as I was taking pictures from my front porch. As they passed my house the woman fell in the snow.
I took pictures to my right and to my left, then gingerly walked to the road and took one photo. But then my fingers were numb from the glacial air.
After a nice warm cup of tea I ventured to the back deck for some pictures. My cat Mitsouko was looking at the deck, hoping to see a bird; too cold for birds and other critters, but a lonely fox was walking down the back alley.
My daughter and son-in-law went for a walk at the golf course near their home today and sent me the photos below.
They look like they are standing somewhere in Alaska, not just south of Nashville. Although today, Mardi Gras 2021, it was 28 F in Anchorage, Alaska, and 11 F (-11.66C) in Brentwood, TN... just saying... Here in my street the sun is starting to come back; next week hopefully it will warm up.
And maybe we will see the birds again?


Rhodesia said...

Wow, I have never seen so many robins, the American robin is obviously not like the European robin which is noted for their highly aggressive territorial behaviour. I have seen two killed in our garden by what I presume was the resident robin.

Fog is so dangerous so glad the truck missed you but it would still leave you in shock.

Take care, Diane

Arkansas Patti said...

What an adventure you had on the highway. Scary when you can't see. So glad you made it home safely and got to see the robin invasion. I had one last week.
Clever what they did for Mardi Gras. Saw some of it on TV.

Magic Love Crow said...

I love robins! When we see the robins here, then Spring will be coming soon! When they leave, winter is here! Gorgeous images of your birds! Love your fog pictures too! Glad you made it home safely! Love all the snow at your home! So pretty! The pictures of all the houses decorated are so much fun! Love them! Which vaccine did you get? Did you have any reactions? Stay safe! Big Hugs!

Elephant's Child said...

The people responsible for naming birds are often sorely lacking in imagination.
Australian magpies are different to European ones - and both are different to North American ones.
That said, they all come under the heading of feathered enchantment to me.
I am so glad that you were able to travel that challenging road in safety.
Stay safe, and stay warm.
And thank you for yet another beautiful post.

Glenda Beall said...

I always enjoy your photographs and this snow was beautiful. The robins are welcome because they usually mean spring is near. I haven't seen robins yet, but hopefully they will visit soon. You are a courageous woman to tackle that dangerous drive. I came home from Atlanta on Feb 11. We watched the weather to find a clear day. thanks for this post and so glad you got home safely.

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, Love the robins! We've had a plethora of them in our yard here in East Tennessee as well and my wife has taken many photos of them. Congratulations on getting your first vaccine shot. Despite my age, if the weather doesn't delay the shipment, We will finally get our first shot next Monday. I just don't like to drive in fog...a special problem when going over the plateau or into the mountains. We were lucky here in East Tennessee. The nasty cold weather stopped along the Cumberland Plateau. When you were 13F we were in the low 30s...and no snow or ice. When I was young, we had friends in New Orleans and we stay with them and partied with them during Mardi Gras. It was a hoot! Love that fox! Very handsome! Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Cloudia said...

These are marvelous. Even a fox! Wow. House floats too. Thank you, Honey!

Mae Travels said...

Your bird photos are very nice. Robin flocks are visiting our neighborhood and parks too. As you say, in spring when they breed they become more solitary and territorial It's very funny how people think they are a sign of spring, since they do not migrate, and the flocks appear throughout the winter. Birding is a special taste, though, and myths are hard to argue with.

Your trip sounds like quite an ordeal and I'm glad you came through in good shape! I hope your immunizations go as planned and you can again see family.

be safe... mae at

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Great photos! The line up of plows, consider sharing with your local TV station. I am glad you made it home all right.

Joared said...

Spectacular photos! Treacherous drive back to Nashville -- glad you made it safe and sound -- driving in fog not for amateurs. What colorful photos from New Orleans celebration adapted due to Covid-19.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

This weather has hit so many of us in the US. I can handle the snow, but the ice is a different story. It is going to prevent me from getting my second Covid shot today. I hope that I can get another appointment.

You are such a very brave lady to do all that driving, especially during the winter where anything can happen and usually does.

We haven’t seen any Robbins yet this year but my yard is full of what seems like hundreds of bright red Cardinals. The snowy landscape makes them look especially beautiful.

Jeanie said...

Well, that was a harrowing trip. I would have been a mess by the time I returned home. I've been on a couple of frightening road trips related to snow and ice and they sap every bit of your physical and emotional strength. Well done for making it home all in one piece.

Up here, we're used to it so when you know it's coming you lay in food and plan not to go out unless it is absolutely necessary. (It was absolutely necessary for me to leave after our storm to get my second Covid shot. The hardest part was driving out of the unplowed neighborhood streets). I hope it doesn't last long. But it certainly is beautiful.

Mary said...

Robins coming non-stop here (NC) these chilly days - odd birds when they just stand still for ages 'listening' to something we obviously are not aware of.
The English robin in the last illustration is still my favorite - I had at least a doz Xmas cards last year from the UK - all with robins!

Perhaps a coyote rather than a fox in that photo - body size and longer legs? We have them here in several neighborhoods.

Stay well, safe and warm.
Mary -

DJan said...

What a scary trip that was! You told it well, and I was sure glad to hear that in spite of it all, you made it home safe and sound. And all those robins! I never heard of such a thing. I've heard of crows congregating like that, but not robins, :-)

Marja said...

These photos of the Robins are beautiful. How much fun to have so many in the garden.
How scary to have that encounter with the truck on the foggy road. You are very brave to drive in such weather on steep roads. I am quite a wuzz.
I really enjoyed the photos of the Mardi grass housing float What a fantastic idea.
What a lot of snow. Very pretty In Holland they had a lot of snow for the first time in years. Also about 30 cm and they could iceskate on the lakes and rivers for a while. The first shoots of spring flowers are coming out now and the snow is nearly gone there. Her we have autumn in a week.

Divers and Sundry said...

Robins are delightful -almost friendly- birds and are common year 'round here. I've been staying strictly at home during all this. We're finally melting here in Memphis. I've enjoyed seeing the photos of the float houses. What a great idea that was!

Lowcarb team member said...

Robins are my favourite of birds.
The American is different from the European but all are so lovely to see.

All the best Jan

Roderick Robinson said...

You arouse many thoughts, many points I'm inclined to respond to. As a result my comments are far too long. Let's keep this one short. Through sharp observation and (it seems) a good memory you turn modest day-to-day events into small, well-shaped adventures. A powerful example to those who whinge that "there's nothing to write about". But you know all this.

Thérèse said...

Quel joli billet! En fait nos deux sortes de rouges-gorges n'ont qu'une chose en commun, ils vivent le plus souvent en solitaire et fuit les autres oiseaux du moins dans notre jardin où je peux observer les deux qui y viennent passer l'hiver. L'un est dodu comme attendu mais l'autre est mince et grand?? je n'ai pas encore été me renseigner sur la toile.
Quelle excellente idée pour la Nouvelle Orléans de faire ces "floats" maison! J'admire l'inventivité et surtout la mise en forme et le professionnalisme. Merci pour nous faire partager ces vues.
Ah si les gens pouvaient se secouer un peu plus dans tous les domaines par ici, le monde s'en porterait peut-être mieux, tout du moins la France.
Gardons le moral et agissons avec nos petits moyens en attendant que la chaîne se forme.

Vicki Lane said...

Beautiful pictures! But scary. I'm so glad you've gotten the shot. Hoping for better weather and better times ahead!

Kay said...

Thank goodness you made it home safely. My children have been keeping us abreast of all the frigid temperatures they've been suffering through. I love seeing your robins. It always raised our spirits when we saw them when we lived in Illinois.

Nadezda said...

your photos of robins reminded me of our robins, so pretty and curious.
Snow in Nashville, wow. Your daughter and son-in-law look like in northern place anywhere.
Fortunately cold soon disappeared and I hope you're well and warm.
I was surprised to see a fox in a street, what it is doing there?

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