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The eagles have landed

The eagles’ neighbors have known for months, observant birders and other Lake Junaluska regulars have either known or suspected, and I have sat on the news for a while as I consulted with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife, but those two beautiful, large brown raptors with the white heads and tails that have been patrolling the lake regularly for the past few months are, indeed, Lake Junaluska residents.

The day after our water dance with manatees in Crystal River we headed across Florida to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. There we checked into our hotel, had a bite and napped, getting ready for a night time kayak excursion in Indian River Lagoon looking for comb jellies.

A pair of mature bald eagles has been hanging out at Lake Junaluska for a few months now. I have heard two separate reports of these birds carrying nesting material. In the dark musty cobweb covered labyrinth that serves as my memory, I seem to remember reading about bald eagles nesting on Waterville (Walters) Lake, along the Pigeon River in northwest Haywood County near the Tennessee border back in the late 1970s. However, I recently did a Google search and could find no reference, so? Maybe some reader(s) could clear that up for me?

Christopher Columbus had a lot of misconceptions about where he wound up in 1492 and what he saw. Mermaids were listed in one of his journal accounts. But to Chris’ credit, mermaids had been around in literature basically since the beginning of literature.

Bamboo is the common name applied to a wide and varied group of woody grasses from all around the world. There are more than 1,000 species of bamboo. Bamboo grows in temperate and tropical climates in the Americas and throughout Asia with the greatest diversity occurring in tropical areas.

Some time around mid-September I added tic number 207 to my 2017 bird list. It was a merlin I saw one afternoon along the Blue Ridge Parkway while I was watching migrating broad-winged hawks. Then — nothing; nothing for a long time.

I received a few emails after the story of Brent Martin’s departure as Southern Appalachian Regional Director of the Wilderness Society (www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/21079). I must say that most were supportive of Martin and/or saddened about the circumstances of his departure from the Wilderness Society.

Don’t you love the way it rolls off the tongue — “spec-mm-dsgt?” As in, “what time is it spec-mm-dsgt?”

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: www.smokymountainnews.com/archives/item/18877-creep-on.

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.

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