Today’s pterodactyl
Mar20

Today’s pterodactyl

A low guttural croak comes out of the fog hanging over the French Broad River. I turn and look towards the noise. A silhouette starts to form. I can see the shadowy outline of a large head and beak. Long wide wings row through the fog and long legs trail behind. I know, immediately – it’s a pterodactyl – no, wait, that was 150 million years ago. It’s one of the pterodactyl’s relatives, a great blue heron. I don’t know what I could...

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What me chase?
Mar01

What me chase?

Regular readers of “The Naturalist’s Corner” may remember that I’ve decided to keep a 2017 year-list of birds. I noted, when I wrote about the list that I was not much of a “lister” nor “chaser.” My list would be made up of birds encountered in my backyard and during my Forest Service point counts and maybe a day of birding during our summer vacation to Isle of Palms. Then, last Sunday (2/26) Dwayne Martin posted some pictures of a...

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Is spring springing earlier?
Feb15

Is spring springing earlier?

Back in January I surveyed the Tellico Fire with MountainTrue biologist Josh Kelly. We were there to check out the intensity and severity of the fire. The date was January 19 and we found a few Hepatica acutiloba (sharp-lobed hepatica) in flower. Kelly said that was the earliest he had ever seen it in flower. Today, taxiing kids to and from school, I noticed a large maple in full flower around Exit 98 on US 23/74. And then, paying a...

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Twice threatened
Feb01

Twice threatened

In the land of the noonday sun, there lives a noonday snail. The noonday globe snail, Petera clarkia Nantahala is a medium-sized snail, about 3/4 inch wide and 1/2 inch high. This little slimeball is known only from about two miles of high calcareous cliffs in the Nantahala Gorge in Western North Carolina. It is a denizen of the damp, living on wet cliffs intersected by small streams and waterfalls. No nouveau snail, the noonday globe...

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The probably not so –  Big Year
Jan19

The probably not so – Big Year

The 2011 movie “The Big Year” – a comedy starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson – didn’t ruffle a lot of feathers. According to Wikipedia, the movie with its $41 million budget only grossed $7.4 million. But the Cornell Lab of Ornithology reviewed the movie shortly after it opened and found, “…This film is an enjoyable tramp through America’s wilds and through the familial tangles of its three main characters. Peppered with...

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Welcome to the first day of winter
Dec22

Welcome to the first day of winter

Your Cold Side Time to make tracks In winter’s first snow. Breathe in the first blast Of winter’s cold. Touch winter As winter touches you. It is your cold side. Your side Of short days and long nights.   And welcome to the shortest day and longest night of the year. There will be approximately 9.5 hours of daylight today (Dec. 21) and 14.5 hours of darkness. The good news – tomorrow the days will begin getting longer. And...

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