out natcornWaterfowl have been scarce across Western North Carolina this fall and winter. Traditional haunts like Lake Julian in Asheville, Lake James near Marion and our own waterfowl magnet Lake Junaluska have been mostly vacant this season. Even coot numbers are really low this year.

out natcornThe monarch butterfly is known for its amazing annual spring and fall migration — from wintering grounds in Mexico in the spring northward across North America then reversing in fall and returning to Mexico, a trip of more than 2,000 miles (one way) for many of these hardy bugs. This migration is a biological mystery.

P.T. would be jealous

out natcornOne of the greatest shows on Earth is about to take center stage. Spring ephemerals will begin clawing through the gray-brown leaf litter within the month. Some of the earliest wildflowers to open will include spring beauty, various violets, hairy buttercup, hepatica, trailing arbutus, bloodroot and trout lily.

out natcornIt’s been awhile since The Naturalist’s Corner’s chief investigative journalist, Kuteeng Satire, has been called upon to help us clarify any natural history phenomenon that might be accessible to most of our fellow travelers here on Spaceship Earth.

Can I move?

out natcornRemember the scene in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” where the Kid was asked by an old miner (I think Butch and the Kid were applying for positions as payroll guards) if he could shoot, and tosses a small object on the ground 20 or 30 feet in front of them? Kid holstered his sidearm and prepared to draw and the old miner stopped him, saying something like no, no, no, I just want to know if you can hit anything with that.

CBC double-dipping

out natcornThey say great minds think alike, and who am I to argue with “They?” The Franklin Bird Club and Carolina Field Birders (CFB) each schedule their annual CBC (Christmas Bird Count) for the last available weekend in Audubon’s count window. They do so for the same reason — both counts are relative newcomers to North Carolina’s organized CBCs and both groups have participants already committed to longer-running CBCs in the area.

out natcornI think Lewis Carroll could have just as easily warned of the Timberdoodle as the Jubjub bird in the “Jabberwocky,” both could appear to be nonsensical avian entities. The timberdoodle, a.k.a. American woodcock, appears to be constructed from incongruous leftover avian parts.

out naturalistFlying around Facebook pages (after all this is the age of information) is, apparently, a poll or online survey declaring that Macon County doesn’t want anymore wilderness. According to this online scientific survey, Macon County is adamantly opposed to adding anymore wilderness to the national forest in Macon County. The graphic I saw had 60 percent of respondents saying “… leave Macon County as is .…”

Half a hunert

out naturalistThere’s nothing I like better than mixing pleasure with pleasure. 

Last weekend, I got to spend three wonderful nights in a 12-by-24-foot cabin on the banks of the Ouachita River in northeast Louisiana near where I grew up. The cabin is a joint venture between one dear old friend I reconnected with a few years back and one dear new friend that I met a few years back.

Fight the good fight

out natcorn"It’s like déjà vu all over again." —Yogi Berra (RIP)

Maybe some of you who, like me, are getting longer in the tooth are guilty of letting our guard down, of thinking old battles had been won and that today’s and tomorrow’s environmental (social too, but that’s a different column) issues had become arguments of degree not kind. But a quick look around shows that’s not the case.

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