The Naturalist's CornerWritten by Don Hendershot
It was a busy weekend and there’s a busy weekend coming up, so I’m going to use this week’s column to clear my desk:
Watershed hikeSaturday, April 24, was our annual spring pilgrimage into the town of Waynesville’s 8,000-plus acre watershed. Following protocol initiated for last year’s fall hike, the town offered two hikes this spring — an early (7 to 9 a.m.) birdwalk followed by the regular hike at 9 a.m.
The birdwalk was successful and problematic. We were greeted by a chorus of newly arrived migrants, alas, most were binocular-shy and good looks were hard to come by despite the fact that one black-and-white warbler nearly took my hat off as he buzzed the group to get a better look. I think we may add a little more time to the birdwalks in the future, and, hopefully that will let us get some better looks.
Some of the warblers we saw and/or heard included black-and-white, black-throated blue, black-throated green, northern parula, ovenbird, Louisiana waterthrush and hooded. Other migrants included blue-headed vireo, red-eyed vireo, wood thrush and scarlet tanager.
When we got back to the treatment plant at 9 a.m. to meet with the rest of the hikers, rain was looking imminent. But the mayor showed up and the skies parted, and we hiked off into a wonderful spring morning. Both hikes were once again at or near capacity, attesting to the keen public interest in the watershed.
This year’s hike pointed out a fact that many of who live and hike in these beautiful mountains sometimes take for granted. One doesn’t hike very far or very long in these mountains without going uphill. Most of the watershed hikes are out – uphill on moderate grades on old logging roads – and back downhill. One of this year’s participants with a mild heart condition found the uphill a bit too strenuous for his comfort.
On the town’s website where you sign up for the hike it states, “Each hike is moderately strenuous and will be up to 5 miles in length and 5 hours in duration.” Please be sure you’re accustomed to a 5-mile stroll in the mountains before signing up for the hike.
Bear timeWith the greening of the mountains every spring comes the waking and stirring of sleepy hungry bears.
Last Friday I was in the Harmon Den area of the French Broad District of the Pisgah National Forest locating bird survey points. I was deep in the forest on a Forest Service road paying more attention to my GPS unit than my surroundings when some movement in the forest caught my eye. About a hundred yards to my left, mamma bear was herding her two cubs out of harm’s way.
The bears had nothing to fear from me, but, of course, mamma didn’t know that. The point is that hungry bears foraging are sometimes not as alert as usual and the chances of you getting a little too close for comfort are increased. So if you’re out there remember to keep your head up and if you need a little bear etiquette reminder check out http://www.yoursmokies.com/blackbearsinsmokies.html.
Birding for the ArtsAh, the roar of the grease paint and the smell of the crowd! Toss those scripts and we’ll ad lib our way across the mountains seeking out returning neotropical migrants and year-round mountain birds from Canada warblers to Carolina chickadees. This annual Haywood County Arts Council benefit is great fun and fills up fast. Tomorrow is the last day for registration. For more information visit the
Haywood County Arts Council office, 86 N. Main St., call 828.452.0593 or visit www.haywoodarts.org.