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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Keep your salamander away from my newt
Jun10

Keep your salamander away from my newt

I often remind everyone who reads The Naturalist’s Corner to remember to look up. But each spring while surveying birds for the Forest Service I am reminded to look down. I have a couple of survey points in the Pisgah National Forest along Locust Creek near the South Toe River that must be red eft mecca. Red eft is the terrestrial stage of eastern or red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens.) The names eft and newt both arose from...

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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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