Must have been an omen
Sep14

Must have been an omen

When I checked my email Friday morning (9/9) I had a message from Chris Kelly, mountain wildlife diversity biologist with North Carolina Natural Resources Commission. Kelly helps coordinate an annual nightjar (birds of the family Caprimulgidae like Chuck-will’s-widow and whip-poor-will) survey across the mountains of North Carolina for the national Nightjar Survey Network. The email was an update for those who volunteer for the...

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Can’t see the forest for the webs
Aug31

Can’t see the forest for the webs

From what I gather from Facebook and overhear in the checkout line the view I encounter every morning on my daily trip from Balsam Gap to Tuscola High School is pretty much standard across Western North Carolina and, according to a Google search across much of the country – places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, and others. That view is one of roadside trees full of what looks like dirty gray-brown plastic bags. Be it...

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Ma Nature doesn’t see things the way we do
Aug18

Ma Nature doesn’t see things the way we do

The red-cockaded woodpecker (RCWO) is a small – cardinal-sized – woodpecker native to eastern pine forests. It once ranged from New Jersey southward to Florida and westward to eastern Texas and portions of Oklahoma and Missouri. The RCWO is dependent upon old growth pine forests, especially longleaf pine. Early European settlers saw the great forests of eastern North America, first as an impediment to settlement and shortly thereafter...

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Wading through nostalgia
Jul20

Wading through nostalgia

Give a Loosiana boy a reason to don his hip boots and strap on a headlight and you’ve got a happy camper. I recently got that opportunity through a contract with the Forest Service to do a salamander survey on three streams in the Cheoah District of the Nantahala National Forest. The three small headwater streams were Wolf Laurel, Sand Creek and Whigg Branch. Standing in the dark, in the water with my entire field of vision reduced to...

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Combination science lab and amusement park
Jul08

Combination science lab and amusement park

Weightless for two seconds is not a moonwalk but at the top of the Space Shot at Huntsville, Alabama’s (Rocket City) U.S. Space & Rocket Center it does give your brain a split second to wonder – am I going up or down? That question is quickly answered by a short free fall and Maddie’s (my 10-yr. old daughter) laughing scream and ear-to-ear grin. It looks like it was a successful launch. And if the Space Shot Gs aren’t enough for...

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Peregrines once again at Devils Courthouse
Jun22

Peregrines once again at Devils Courthouse

A couple of Saturday’s ago Bob Olthoff and I made a quick trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were going up to Black Balsam to look for yellow-rumped warblers. Yellow-rumps are regular visitors to Western North Carolina during the winter but generally pack their bags and head back to New England and/or Canada for nesting season. Occasionally nesting yellow-rumps can be found at higher elevations in the mountains of North Carolina. I...

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