Recovering a ghost

NBC News did a segment of their “Fleecing of America” on the $27.8 million proposed by the recovery plan, which prompted a flurry of emails in the blogosphere and across birding listservs noting that $27.8 million was a paltry sum — a mere drop in the bucket. Well, yes and no.

For the more intrepid sojourner, the word “wilderness” may conjure up visions of Death Valley, the Alaska Peninsula or the Atchafalaya Swamp. For a soon-to-be 2-year-old and a soon-to-be 6-year-old, a wilderness may be as close as a nearby weedy hillside.

Site nominations for the mountain region of the North Carolina Birding Trail kicked off Oct. 1. Sites for the coastal region and piedmont region have been selected and mapped.

Bluebird skies are wonderful for lots of things. For example, along U.S. Hwy. 64 west of Franklin the other day the clear blue created the perfect backdrop for the dazzling display of blue and yellow produced by the masses of asters and goldenrods.

Hurricane survivors

One of those paradoxes of getting older: it seems you have more occasions to gather with friends and family, but these occasions are too often funerals. Last weekend I made a whirlwind trip to Biloxi, Miss., to be with my best friend as his dad, a WWII veteran, was interred at Biloxi National Cemetery. It was my first trip to the Gulf Coast since Katrina and fittingly, I traveled through some heavy rain and winds generated by Hurricane Humberto.

Baby birding

It’s almost fall and the skies are beginning to fill with feathered vagabonds headed to their traditional southern winter habitats. I have noticed mixed flocks of songbirds foraging in my yard recently. Mr. Mom — that’s me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays — looked out the kitchen window yesterday morning (9/4) and noted a lot of activity. So I grabbed my binoculars, a few of her toys and Maddy (my soon-to-be 2-year-old) and headed out on the deck. Maddy loves to be outside, so Daddy figured he could spy on birds as Maddy played — muti-tasking in a way that would make Mom envious. It went kinda like this:

Its not easy being green

Balsam Mountain Preserve is, first and foremost, a real estate development. As such, it is subject to all the pressures, schedules, deadlines, etc., that plague all developments. What was to (and in many cases has) separate BMP from most real estate developments was their commitment to protecting the environment and serving as a model for “environmentally sensitive” development.

Keep me in the dark

Scott McLeod, my editor, tossed an Aug. 20, 2007, New Yorker on his desk and said there was a good article about light pollution in it and wondered if I was interested. I was. But I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise to many Smoky Mountain News readers who think McLeod and I are in the dark about a lot of things.

A telling tale

“Gambling on a Ghost Bird” in the current issue of the journal Science ( - there’s a $10 fee) regarding the “rediscovery” of the ivory-billed woodpecker in 2004 and the subsequent lack of documentation, makes for a very interesting read.

Hot stuff

An unplanned trip to Louisiana the first weekend in August sent us to the land of the heat-index factor. Of course, Louisiana in August is supposed to be hot and we weren’t disappointed with temperatures climbing to the high 90s every afternoon.

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