It’s March 1, the night is black and soggy. It’s around 50 degrees and “pourin the rain” as natives say.

Allons au Bayou Noire

I guess the real Bayou Noire would be in Houma or Sulphur or somewhere else across Acadiana, where the slow water in the bayou is dark enough to be called black. The Bayou Noire I just returned from was Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, La. Monroe is three-and-a-half hours from Acadiana by car, but a civilization away.

The Western Carolina Forest Sustainability Initiative (WCFSI) under the direction of Pete Bates, associate professor of Natural Resources Management at WCU, grew out of the Little Tennessee Sustainable Forestry Initiative that was created in 2002. The LTSFI was a collaboration among the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT), WCU’s geosciences and natural resources management, Duke University and The Conservation Fund.

No excuses

Now here’s a way to bird from your kitchen table, in your pajamas and slippers, with a steaming hot cup of coffee in your hand. This year will be the tenth annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The count is a collaboration between Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. It is sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited so you don’t even have to fork over the five bucks required to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Count dates are Feb. 16-19.

Stairway to heaven

In 1885 Jerome B. Freeman built a stairway to the top of a 535-million-year-old granite monolith overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge.

This past summer I stopped feeding birds, except for the hummers. The squirrels had become too brazen and were chewing everything and anything on the deck and beating on the windows, demanding food.

Deer dilemma

This week’s column is a follow-up to last week’s piece about urban archery seasons and deer/human conflicts within municipalities. Most regular readers of The Naturalist’s Corner know that I am not an advocate of hunting or any blood sport — been there, done that and have developed a different attitude regarding the creatures with which we share the planet.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has decided that creating an urban bowhunting season would be a wonderful resource municipalities could use to lessen the negative impacts of deer/human conflicts.

The All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, an ambitious project to identify every organism in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is rolling into its eighth year of study and sampling. As of October 2006, the ATBI has identified 5,317 new species in the GSMNP. Of those 5,317 species, 651 are new to science.

The Annual Balsam CBC

The fifth annual Balsam Christmas Bird Count was conducted last Saturday, Dec. 30. The 15-mile diameter circle, which covers a large portion of western Haywood County as well as Balsam Mountain Preserve in Jackson County, is one of more than 1,800 official Audubon count circles. This year marked the 107th annual Audubon CBC.

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