Ducks are a Dabbling

Ray Pope

Ducks are a Dabbling | Anthony Gray, Anna Franklin, Karen Franklin, Mallard

Female Mallard a Dabbling

I believe this was the fastest year in my whole life. Maybe I have been influenced by what is called the Rip Van Winkle syndrome, sleeping some of my year away. In reality, that is just something that was made up in my own mind, a Ray-ism. Please don't quote me on that one.

Some of you might get tired of my writing about my good friend Anthony Gray and some of the adventures we take together on Saturdays, after a great meal at Pekings Chinese Restaurant. If any of you would prefer to join us, we would be most honored to have you spend the afternoon with us. It's not easy writing a story each week and then about something in nature makes it even harder. Nature has no guarantees attached.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about giving Anna Franklin a new pair of grown-up binoculars for her birthday, only to find that they were useless, damaged. I wrote the Bushnell company to advise them of the problem that I shared with Anna. The binoculars were sent to the repair shop where they were considered to be a problem from the manufacturing process and in the blink of an eye, a brand new pair was sent to me. This is one of the reasons that I prefer to use the Bushnell brand. Before we made the trip out birding, I asked Anthony if he would drive out to the home of the Franklins, on the west side of Mt. Juliet. We arrived to find Anna very excited to have her binoculars finally in hand, but her mother, Karen Franklin was under the weather.

On the way back from Anna's home, we saw a huge flock of wild Turkeys in a yard on the Old Lebanon Dirt Road. There had to be at least two hundred individuals on the ground there. A Turkey hunters paradise for sure.

We had thought of going back to Long Hunter State Park, but thought it would be best to return to the Lone Branch Recreation Area, north of Mt. Juliet. The "Duck of the day", was the Mallard Duck where we found them "dabbling" just on the far bank of the creek area. Right in the middle of the raft, was a white domestic duck. Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain a couple of things.

Dabbling is the feeding habits of the Mallard, where they turn their bottoms up in the air, while they stick their heads down underwater where they eat mostly plant material and sometime some aquatic critters. I've heard the term, "Ducks are a dabbling, tails up all", I just don't remember where this came from.

A "Raft", is a group of ducks, like a few weeks ago, we found a large raft of American Coots in this same area. Every winter, millions of ducks make their way south to spend time here on our area lakes where duck hunters take up space in the many duck blinds, hoping to bag their limit. This is a necessary thing to help the duck population in the long run. Hunters spend millions of dollars, through license and other fees that help with the continuing efforts of keeping waterfowl refuges areas open to the public, hunters and of course, us birdwatchers.

Other birds found there were the American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco and one very inquisitive Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, who followed us around the picnic tables. On around to the big shallow slew where the old Harolds Ark, boat dock used to be in the old days, were about thirty or more Great Blue Herons, each on some stump in the shallows of Spencer Creek.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood or at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at,