Displaying items by tag: naturalist's corner

out naturalistThe cosmos loom large and wondrous again, and much of the credit goes to one charming, affable but steadfastly rigorous — when it comes to scientific principles — host Neil deGrasse Tyson. 

out natcornThe Tennessee Valley Authority, in 1984, found itself with an extra $14,000 lying around. The money was available for outreach projects across the Southeast. Well, we all know how frivolous the federal government and/or quasi-federal organizations (TVA is a corporation owned by the federal government) are with their money, right? And here was another opportunity for the Feds to squander your hard-earned taxes. What did they do with the money?

out natcornMay 3 and 4 were the dates for this year’s 30th annual edition of the Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition. This trip began in 1984 as the brainchild of George Ellison, Bryson City resident, author and naturalist; Rick Pyeritz, M.D., who had a practice in Bryson City before he became medical director at University of North Carolina Asheville; and Fred Alsop, Ph.D., field guide author and ornithologist at East Tennessee State University.

I was invited to help lead a bird walk focusing on wood warblers at this year’s 64th annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was invited to help by Dr. Patricia Blackwell-Cox. 

out natcornSomewhere beyond the rain and clouds, in the wee hours yesterday morning (April 15), there was a striking blood moon accompanied by fiery mars during a total lunar eclipse. The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles streamed the event live so I imagine you can Google it and get a look.

out natcornDespite last week’s chill and blustery snow, we are in the throes of spring migration. Actually, migration never stops. There is a bird somewhere on its way to somewhere else every month of the year. Purple martins have reached Florida by January. In June around the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge you might find red knots headed north and least sandpipers headed south.

out natcornPeople say the corporate world has no soul. Corporations don’t give a rat’s behind about their employees, especially after they’re gone. And the flip side is employees are just there to get a paycheck. They do what it takes, and if they’re lucky, they have a job that pays the bills while they can’t wait to get the heck outta there. Well, I’m here to tell you it ain’t always so. I mean, we have a great example right here in North Carolina.

out natcornA river of burnt umber flows every year from southern Canada through the U.S. to the oyamel fir forests in the mountains west of Mexico City. This river tumbles along in a kind of bubbly joy reserved for kids, fairies, hermits, counterfeit curmudgeons and anyone whose soul is pricked by unimaginable beauty not trying to be beautiful — simply being.

out natcornNo better way to celebrate a big thaw than an impromptu field trip. We rounded up kids, friends and friends’ kids and headed for the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. Our first stop at the Arboretum was the Baker Exhibit Center. Denise had checked online before we left and said there was a dinosaur exhibit there. I was curious to find out how dinosaurs were going to be exhibited at the Arboretum. Like most things at the Arboretum, it was totally cool. 

out natcornIn my youth, never did a B-western movie make it to the end without the bad guy being cornered and denounced for the “yellow-bellied sapsucker” he was. Yellow-belly and/or yellow-bellied has, for various etymological reasons, been associated with cowardice. Sapsucker, I don’t know, maybe it just sounds kinda lowlife. 

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The Naturalist's Corner

  • Fingers still crossed
    Fingers still crossed Status of the Lake Junaluska eagles remains a mystery, but I still have my fingers crossed for a successful nesting venture. There was some disturbance near the nest a week or so ago — tree trimming on adjacent property — and for a day or…

Back Then with George Ellison

  • The woodcock — secretive, rotund and acrobatic
    The woodcock — secretive, rotund and acrobatic While walking stream banks or low-lying wetlands, you have perhaps had the memorable experience of flushing a woodcock — that secretive, rotund, popeyed, little bird with an exceedingly long down-pointing bill that explodes from underfoot and zigzags away on whistling wings and just barely managing…
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