Displaying items by tag: birding

Hermit in the house

out natcornI can be standing five feet from my girls and say something simple like, “wash your hands,” “brush your teeth” or “clean your room,” and not even an eyebrow will twitch in acknowledgement. But put those same girls down in the basement with TV or ipad/pod blaring at decibels that would make NASCAR jealous and the tiniest thump at a window anywhere in the house will bring them flying upstairs clamoring, “Dad, did you hear that? Sounded like a bird hit the window.”

out natcornTraveling from east to west, the Mississippi River Bridge is a time portal for me. 

I drive for hours squarely focused on the here and now, then I reach the bridge and in a breath I’m suspended above the Big Muddy, the river stretches for as far as I can see to my right and my left. When I slide off the span onto terra firma I’m in ‘Loosiana,’ a strange world of memories, nostalgia and anticipation.

Serendipitous hawk watch

out natcornThe rains came Saturday. It was a good day for a soaker, from my perspective. I had writing I needed to catch up on and it’s not as hard being stuck away down in the dungeon when it’s pouring. We had seen the forecast for Sunday, and I remember remarking to Denise — on one of my trips upstairs to the world of the living — that I bet Sunday was going to be a big day for migrating hawks.

Wind birds up

out natcornLike the breathing in and out of newborns; like the ebb and flow of the tide, and like the cycle of day and night, the spring and fall migration is part of the pulse of the planet. 

out natcornPurple martin “scouts” are some of the earliest harbingers of spring. I recorded one in February at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana during last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, and it’s not uncommon for them to show up in Florida in January.

out frThe steady decline of the Golden-winged Warbler on the Southern Appalachian landscape is a trend that not only threatens the future of the bird in Western North Carolina but also puts in peril the species as whole.

During the past century, it has experienced one of the most precipitous population falls of nearly any other songbird species. Brought on by habitat loss and interbreeding with a more dominant species of warbler, less than 500,000 exist in the United States.

out natcornCarolina birder Matt Daw from Raleigh was videoing a least bittern last week as it foraged at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. In an interview, Daw said he was looking through the viewfinder at the bittern when suddenly an interloper sauntered by behind the bittern.

Maybe someone heard my plea.

For the last two weekends, the rain, for the most part, has stayed away, giving us at least one nice day without a drop to enjoy some time outdoors. And after having my first attempt to go birding cancelled because of the weather, I was looking forward Saturday to finding out why others enjoyed the hobby so much.

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.

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The Naturalist's Corner

Back Then with George Ellison

  • One of the Smokies’ finest poets
    One of the Smokies’ finest poets Editor’s note: This Back Then column by George Ellison first appeared in the Feb. 15, 2012, edition of The Smoky Mountain News. Olive Tilford Dargan is fairly well known in literary circles as the author of From My Highest Hill (1941), a delightful collection of autobiographical…
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