Canucks amongst us
May25

Canucks amongst us

You’re hiking streamside through a rhododendron tangle when you hear a short, musical trill – it kind of mimics the riffles in the stream. I know, you’re in a hurry – got a lot of hiking to do, but if you have a minute to track this little chorister down you won’t be disappointed. What you’re hearing is a Canada warbler. This little warbler (about 5 inches) is common in Western North Carolina, in brushy (often rhododendron) habitat,...

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Evolution
May12

Evolution

I spend six weeks every spring doing bird surveys for the Forest Service across Western North Carolina. My travels take me from Hiwassee Dam, to Lake Chatuge, to Black Balsam, to Hot Springs, to the Pinks Beds, to Roan Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Roaring Creek and Boone Fork plus other locations. Many of these points have been in place for decades monitoring the correlations between changes in habitat (say for timbering and/or...

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Smoky birds
Apr27

Smoky birds

I just finished four wonderful days of birding in the Smokies, helping out with the 66th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. Well 3.8 wonderful days and .2 days getting drenched last Friday before we gave up, man those pilgrims are tough! Thanks to the efforts of avid birder and owner of Ventures Birding Tours (Asheville) Simon Thompson, this is the second year of expanded birding programs during the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage. No...

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Mystery solved
Apr13

Mystery solved

I was having my morning coffee on the small floating dock in the narrow, clear Weeki Wachee River about three miles upstream of the Gulf of Mexico and watching for manatees. The girls and I had discovered that early morning was a good time to catch these unique creatures headed in or out of the river. The loud, incessant calling of a red-shouldered hawk from the woods across the river suddenly shattered the morning quiet. The area...

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Early to the woods
Mar30

Early to the woods

  Due to contractual obligations with the Forest Service I have been in the woods a little earlier than usual this year. I’m not complaining, it’s been wonderful watching spring arrive. I began hitting the woods in February and everything, except the conifers and other evergreens, was brown and/or gray. There was a little bird life – chickadees, titmice, juncos, woodpeckers and other winter residents – but not a lot, a few chips and...

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Lake J – even when it’s bad, it’s good
Mar16

Lake J – even when it’s bad, it’s good

Waterfowl have been scarce across Western North Carolina this fall and winter. Traditional haunts like Lake Julian in Asheville, Lake James near Marion and our own waterfowl magnet Lake Junaluska have been mostly vacant this season. Even coot numbers are really low this year. But you can’t give up on Lake Junaluska, all it takes is one front and things mysteriously fall from the sky. I was by there one day last week and saw my first...

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