Stay calm and creep on

Two years in a row — for this Hendershot family that’s like a tradition. We pedaled the Virginia Creeper Trail again this year for my bride’s birthday. We did it last year and you can read about it here:

I had the pleasure of leading a birding trip for Alarka Expeditions on Friday September 29. I had been in the field the previous two weeks and migration seemed to be going strong, so I was expecting a pretty birdy outing. And things started well. We ran into a number of palm warblers almost immediately at our first stop – Kituwah. We also encountered song sparrows, field sparrows, eastern towhee, goldfinches, eastern phoebe and a few of us got brief looks at a magnolia warbler.

Regrettably a wall through desert and riparian lowlands along the Mexico-U.S. border will have terrible effects on terrestrial fauna whose home range includes both sides of an imaginary line in the sand. However other migrants will, likely, never notice a wall unless, of course, it is lit up like an airport landing strip.

Number one daughter had a big camping weekend planned with friends and their families at Lake Chatuge over Labor Day. So we came up with an impromptu plan for Maddie and us. We made reservations at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. We had taken Izzy to the aquarium when she was a tot and she enjoyed it, Maddie had never been so we figured this was a good opportunity.

Two independent natural phenomena have occurred over the past few days that will be etched in the memories, minds and hearts of people across the country and around the world. A total solar eclipse sailed out of the Pacific Ocean and started its trek above terra firma around Lincoln Beach, Oregon, about 9 a.m. PDT on Aug. 21. The eclipse was visible across parts of 14 states leaving terra firma for the Atlantic Ocean over Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina a little after 3 p.m. EDT.

Friends and followers of “The Naturalist’s Corner” know I’m keeping a year-list of birds I see/hear this year. As I wrote in an earlier column, “I was just curious about how many different species of birds I normally run into throughout the year.” And I have a great core of birding activities that provide a good nucleus for a list including Christmas Bird Count, George Ellison’s Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition, my annual point count contract with the Forest Service and other opportunities such as leading a trip for the Franklin Bird Club, generally leading birding trips during the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage (which, regrettably, I missed this year due to a scheduling conflict with spring break) and an annual summer trip to Isle of Palms. The Isle of Palms trip is the one I was counting on for a list boost.

My family and I were in the Rock Hill, S.C.-Charlotte area a few weeks back to visit my sister and catch my niece, Haley Barfield (one of the triplets, yeah, as in three, Allison and Jess round out the trifecta) in Shakespeare Carolina’s production of Macbeth. We also got to enjoy a birthday dinner with Matt, the triplets’ older brother.

Issues surrounding the management of the country’s national forests have always been thorny. It’s easy to see why — there are numerous user groups that, on the face, often appear to be at odds regarding how national forests should be managed. The USDA Forest Service is charged with the stewardship of these national forests and it is, by and large, a thankless task.

There was much concern regarding the noonday globe snail, Petera clarkia nantahala, after the Tellico Fire burned through the Nantahala Gorge last fall. The noonday globe is a federally endangered species known only from a small region of calcareous cliffs in the Nantahala Gorge in Swain County.

Another spring, another season of bird points in the can. Each spring brings its own unique set of adventures, dilemmas and logistical challenges.

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