From time to time my wife claims that I can be obsessive, but I don’t know what she’s talking about. On a completely unrelated subject, I’ve been to the Chattanooga Riverwalk at least 5 times in the past couple of weeks. On Mondays I have the privilege of spending the afternoon with two of my home-school grandsons, Chase and Jeff, so this week we walked a couple of miles of the Chattanooga Riverwalk, and then on Tuesday Cindy and I visited the pond next to the Curtain Pole Road parking area of the Riverwalk. They were a good two days for our birding – we were able to photograph three lifers we’ve seen during these couple of weeks of walking the Riverwalk. Here are some photos; the Gadwalls and Mergansers are from the pond next to Curtain Pole Road, and the Green-winged Teal was on the pond at Amnicola Marsh.
Spring Blue-eyed Mary, a native species, has been added to the USWildflowers database (01/28/2013.) Scientific name is Collinsia verna. It is also known by the common names Blue-eyed Mary, Eastern Blue Eyed Mary, Innocence, and Lady-by-the-Lake . Photo below was taken at Reflection Riding, Hamilton County, TN , on Apr 8, 2011. Go to the Spring Blue-eyed Mary detail page for more photos and information.
A doctor’s appointment took me out to the foot of Missionary Ridge on Thursday morning, and since I was out in the vicinity I decided to make another visit to the Amnicola Marsh along the Chattanooga Riverwalk. I was hoping to get a closer look at the Hooded Mergansers we’d spotted a week earlier. And while those ducks were there, I once again proved that not only am I a rookie as a birder, I’m still a rookie as a bird photographer. I can get frame-filling photos of birds that act like wildflowers – allowing me to approach closely and spend some time taking several photos, as did the Canada Goose and the Mockingbird shown below.
There is a small but scientifically significant marsh on the top of Pigeon Mountain in Walker County, Georgia. While my many visits to Pigeon Mountain are for wildflower photography, there’s not a lot of that going on in January, so my wife and two of our grandsons visited the Pigeon Marsh on Wednesday, Jan 23. This marsh was shown to me a year or so ago by Jay Clark, a gentleman with more knowledge of the natural history of Pigeon Mountain than any other I know.
On the 3rd day with sunshine after a week and a half of rain, we wanted to get outside. After church and lunch on Sunday, Cindy and I went up to Cloudland Canyon State Park. Yes, again! It was a lovely afternoon as we enjoyed the sunshine – and saw the temperature drop about 20 degrees within 30 minutes of the sun dropping below the horizon. Here are a half-dozen photos from the day.
Cindy and I decided to take advantage of the first sunshine in 9 days by driving up to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN on Friday (Jan 18.) Over the past decade this area has become a main overwintering stop for Sandhill Crane. We had gone up there in mid-November to check them out (and the excellent nearby Cherokee Removal Memorial Park,) and we did get to see a number of the cranes, but none closer than probably 1/4 mile. We were really hoping to get a closer look, and we did, but not quite what we wanted. We saw a couple dozen of these large birds, but none closer that probably 150 yards. After we watched these birds for a while with the couple of dozen other birders there, we went down to Harrison Bay State Park, and photographed some ducks and coots. Here are some photos.
I’ve posted most of these photos on Facebook and Twitter already, but in my semi-retirement I am more and more using the Journal to try to track some of my activities – Cindy and I are finding ourselves asking each other “What did we do last week?” Some of those Journal entries are just private notes as to what we did, but some, like this one, might have some community interest. This is one of those.
Since I work part-time now, my weekend usually starts on Thursday afternoon, but this week some projects used more of my time earlier in the week so I finished up a couple of hours earlier than usual. We’d had rain (lots of rain) for 9 days in a row, and there was slight break in the rain before a cold front came through bringing more rain and possibly snow (some nearby areas got some; we didn’t.) I decided to take that break as an opportunity to run up to Cloudland Canyon State Park to see what the waterfalls looked like after all the rain.
The first waterfalls that I saw wasn’t one that I expected. During normal water levels you don’t even notice this one across the canyon from the main overlook. I suspect that during dry weather there may be no water at all in this unnamed stream tumbling down the bluff.
Chattanooga has done a great job of developing its riverfront and greenways over the past 20 years. The Riverwalk that runs for 10 miles along or near the Tennessee River from the Tennessee Aquarium on the riverfront in downtown Chattanooga all the way up to Chickamauga Dam is a jewel of that development. It’s one that I’ve so far neglected to explore except for a couple of small pieces. My wife, Cindy, and I will start trying to correct that neglect. On Friday and Saturday we walked and photographed a section of the Riverwalk near the Amnicola Marsh, visited the bridge over Chickamauga Creek, and also enjoyed a Great Blue Heron rookery on the Chattanooga State Community College campus. Here are a few photographs from this past week.