Regrettably a wall through desert and riparian lowlands along the Mexico-U.S. border will have terrible effects on terrestrial fauna whose home range includes both sides of an imaginary line in the sand. However other migrants will, likely, never notice a wall unless, of course, it is lit up like an airport landing strip.

Number one daughter had a big camping weekend planned with friends and their families at Lake Chatuge over Labor Day. So we came up with an impromptu plan for Maddie and us. We made reservations at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. We had taken Izzy to the aquarium when she was a tot and she enjoyed it, Maddie had never been so we figured this was a good opportunity.

Two independent natural phenomena have occurred over the past few days that will be etched in the memories, minds and hearts of people across the country and around the world. A total solar eclipse sailed out of the Pacific Ocean and started its trek above terra firma around Lincoln Beach, Oregon, about 9 a.m. PDT on Aug. 21. The eclipse was visible across parts of 14 states leaving terra firma for the Atlantic Ocean over Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina a little after 3 p.m. EDT.

Friends and followers of “The Naturalist’s Corner” know I’m keeping a year-list of birds I see/hear this year. As I wrote in an earlier column, “I was just curious about how many different species of birds I normally run into throughout the year.” And I have a great core of birding activities that provide a good nucleus for a list including Christmas Bird Count, George Ellison’s Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition, my annual point count contract with the Forest Service and other opportunities such as leading a trip for the Franklin Bird Club, generally leading birding trips during the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage (which, regrettably, I missed this year due to a scheduling conflict with spring break) and an annual summer trip to Isle of Palms. The Isle of Palms trip is the one I was counting on for a list boost.

My family and I were in the Rock Hill, S.C.-Charlotte area a few weeks back to visit my sister and catch my niece, Haley Barfield (one of the triplets, yeah, as in three, Allison and Jess round out the trifecta) in Shakespeare Carolina’s production of Macbeth. We also got to enjoy a birthday dinner with Matt, the triplets’ older brother.

Issues surrounding the management of the country’s national forests have always been thorny. It’s easy to see why — there are numerous user groups that, on the face, often appear to be at odds regarding how national forests should be managed. The USDA Forest Service is charged with the stewardship of these national forests and it is, by and large, a thankless task.

There was much concern regarding the noonday globe snail, Petera clarkia nantahala, after the Tellico Fire burned through the Nantahala Gorge last fall. The noonday globe is a federally endangered species known only from a small region of calcareous cliffs in the Nantahala Gorge in Swain County.

Another spring, another season of bird points in the can. Each spring brings its own unique set of adventures, dilemmas and logistical challenges.


I was in Morganton over the Memorial Day Holiday chasing birdies in the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest per my annual Forest Service point count contract. I was headed to my motel room after coming out of the woods when I began to notice trees showing dead leaves at the ends of the branches. The first two I noticed were hickories and I began to wonder if there was maybe some kind of insect pest that targeted hickories — kinda like the locust leaf-miner that turns our locust trees brown in summer. But soon I began to see oaks and other species exhibiting the same symptoms. I noticed them in town, so there weren’t a whole lot of trees and the brown tipped ones really stood out.

The weather hasn’t been too cooperative this spring with regards to my Forest Service bird point count. First weekend in May was cold and rainy, it rained half of the next weekend and after getting some points in Saturday, last Sunday (5/21) was looking bleak again.

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