While my wife and I were in Venice, Florida for a family visit, we took the opportunity for a couple of trips down the road to the Venice Rookery. There we got to watch cormorants feasting on catfish in the pond. Here are a few photos and a video.
The “Polar Vortex” came through the Chattanooga area in mid-July, giving us a few days respite from the muggy heat that usually oppresses us in July and August. It would have been horrible to waste that time indoors, so my wife and I spent a little bit of time on Chattanooga’s Tennessee River Walk at one of our favorite spots, the pond at Curtain Pole Road. We started out chasing dragonflies, but soon that turned into much more.
Dragonfly at Curtain Pole Pond – This is a composite of two photos of a single dragonfly – one on the approach; the other upon landing
The weathermen missed the January event – it snowed and iced a lot further north than they expected. They hedged their bets on this one – the governor of Georgia even declared an emergency before the first snowflake fell. But one thing is assured – when it snows, the birds will make a visit to our yard because my wife keeps the feeder full. Here are a few images from some of the birds that were about while I made my foray into the snow.
We had an unexpected snow event – we were expecting some flurries, but the northern edge of the line of precipitation was further north than expected. The snow and cold has the birds busy gathering calories, and with a full feeder in our yard it was a popular place. Here are a few photos.
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus – several of these are regular visitors to our feeders most of the year.
I went down to The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain today, not only to check on the wildflowers but also for a little stress relief. I’ll get a report on the wildflower status out later this evening or in the morning, but I wanted to report one of my exciting finds. I used to see these fairly often as a child, but only rarely in recent decades. Was very happy to see this Luna Moth hanging onto a tree.
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.
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.
When Europeans discovered North America, the Eastern Elk inhabited the eastern part of the continent in large numbers, including the Appalachian Mountains. By the late 1800’s, the Eastern Elk subspecies of Cervus elaphus (sometimes classified as Cervus canadensis) had been hunted to extinction. In 2001, after more than 120 years of absence, the National Park Service reintroduced Elk (Rocky Mountain subspecies) to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as an experiment. The experiment has been successful, and the elk are now well-established and have become a great attraction for visitors to the Cataloochee area of the Smokies.
On Monday of this week (08/01/2011) my wife and I drove the stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Balsam Gap outside of Waynesville, NC, to Cherokee. The wildflowers were great, including some “lifers” for us like Yellow Fringed Orchid, Fly Poison, and Lion’s Foot, which you’ll be seeing on these pages in the future. We took a side trip up Heintooga Ridge Road to check out the Balsam Mountain Campground. The Heintooga Ridge runs along the southwestern end of the Cataloochee area where the elk are located, and Cindy and I had commented that we’d need to get over to Cataloochee someday to see the elk. All of a sudden as we rounded a curve there were two elk standing in the road! I quickly stopped and grabbed a couple of photos through the window as this fellow posed for us as he ambled off along the side of the road.
Elk in the Smokies - Cervus elaphus
Thank you, Lord, for a great day with my wife, wildflowers, and wildlife!
OK, you only get a part of the wings in this Wings On Wednesday post, but the wings delivered the proboscis we see here probing a Phacelia blossom along the Hull’s Gulch National Recreation Trail in the Boise Foothills on July 21, 2011.