out natcornAs we turn to bask in the full glow of the summer sun, mornings begin to heat up quickly. As they heat, they become quieter. 

out natcornLast week, we set the stage for the 29th annual Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition (GSMBE). The group starts at 9 a.m. at George and Elizabeth Ellison’s office/studio in downtown Bryson City. I know, birders out there are rolling their eyes — to start a count at 9 a.m. is like missing half the day, but there are caveats.

out natcornWhat could be more fun than a weekend of fellowship and great birding? Maybe setting a new record for total number of species recorded during the annual Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition? 

Water cents

What falls freely from the sky, rumbles, swooshes, rolls, trickles across the planet; seeps into the earth beneath our feet yet is more valuable than “Texas T,” that foul smelling icky crude that companies spend billions to produce, only to sell for mega-billions?

out naturalistWe’ve had a good run in the watershed. The Town of Waynesville has sponsored spring and fall guided hikes in its 8,000-plus acre watershed since 2007. The hikes provide a great way for residents and other interested parties to see this wonderful resource that has been placed in a conservation easement to insure the town has an ample supply of high-quality drinking water for generations to come.

Homecoming

out natcornThe blue-headed vireo sang to me of spring sometime around the first week of April. Blue-headeds are generally the last “non-resident” songbird we hear in the fall (sometimes into November) and the first we hear in the spring — probably due to the fact that many overwinter in the warmer climes of the Southeast.

Earth Day rant

out natcornEarth Day 2013 is Monday, April 22. The first official “Earth Day” occurred in 1970 and environmentalists celebrated. Environmental lawyer Chuck Dayton, who splits his time between Waynesville and the “Land of a Thousand Lakes,” pretty much summed up where we are at Earth Day, when he wrote about the 40th anniversary:

Love was in the air

out natcornLove may be a little anthropogenic for toads, but the eons old “urge to merge” was quite prevalent last Sunday (4/7) when we were at Oconee State Park. Oconee State Park in Mountain Rest, S.C., is along U.S. Hwy 11 around 14 miles south of Cashiers and about an hour and a half drive from Waynesville.

out natcornThis recent bumpy weather across the Eastern U.S. has resulted in some flight delays and changed itineraries for a bunch of seasoned fliers.

Green Oscars V

out naturalistWild South held its fifth annual Green Gala celebrating the 2012 Roosevelt-Ashe Society’s Conservation Award winners last Friday, March 22. Wild South is a regional nonprofit with offices in Asheville and Moulton, Ala., that works to protect, conserve and enhance the wild places and wild things across the South. 

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