Displaying items by tag: naturalist's corner

out natcornperseids falling
perseids burning white hot
perseids flame out

I made sure to keep an eye out for falling stars last week on my pre-dawn delivery route since it was during the peak of the annual Perseids meteor shower. One morning was pretty socked in with clouds and/or fog but most of the rest of the week was pretty good.

Company for coffee

out natcornDue to the generosity of great friends Bill and Elaine Cave of Asheville, my family has enjoyed a summer respite on Isle of Palms in South Carolina for a decade or so. We made it down around 5 p.m. on Sunday (8/2) — still enough time for the girls to hit the beach for a while.

Summer skies

out natcornMy family and I made a quick run up to Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway around dusk last Sunday (July 19) to get a peek at some celestial luminaries. Venus and Jupiter joined the waxing crescent moon on the western horizon. They danced and played hide and seek amidst layered clouds whose purple backs touched the night while their bellies bathed in the last yellow and orange rays of the sun falling over the western horizon. It was a beautiful, tranquil setting.

out natcornWell, it wasn’t really a voice — it was an email. I received an email from Bruce Lampright back in November 2014.

Color on high

out natcornI occasionally see The Smoky Mountain News’ Garret K. Woodward’s Facebook posts about hitting the trails around WNC for a mind-clearing run and my knees twinge with the memories of similar sorties and the sad recognition that without surgery those days are lost. 

out natcornThe other day, while chasing birdies for the Forest Service, I encountered a pretty wildflower along an abandoned logging road. The plant was small purple-fringed orchid, Platanthera psycodes. It was unusual in that the flowers were white rather than the normal lavender to reddish-purple one generally encounters.

out natcornNeotropical migrants can be flashy things — think scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak or those tiny butterflies of the bird world like American redstart, blackburnian warbler, hooded warbler and northern parula, just to name a few. And often when we strike out in search of these colorful creatures we go to places like the Blue Ridge Parkway, where it is open and there is good light so we can see the amazing color. But sometimes beige is cool.

out natcornCumberland Island, which is composed of Great Cumberland Island (the national seashore) and Little Cumberland Island (private), is one of the largest barrier islands along Georgia’s coast. Cumberland Island is about 18 miles long and about 3 miles wide — around 40 square miles. The eastern edge of the island is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, while the west, north and south are bounded by sounds, rivers and marsh.

out natcornYay! Spring break! That special time to be sequestered with adolescents and/or pre-adolescents in about 50 square feet while hurtling down the highway at 70 m.p.h.

out natcornI was commiserating with a friend who works for the Forest Service just after it was announced that they were taking a step back from the plan revision process to schedule another round of public meetings. 

The FS rolled out a “draft” management plan last fall after a series of public meetings. The plan, while clearly labeled “draft”, placed around 700,000 acres of the million or so acres of the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in management areas deemed appropriate for logging. To say the plan caught some stakeholders off guard is like saying the Grand Canyon is a ravine in Arizona.

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The Naturalist's Corner

Back Then with George Ellison

  • One of the Smokies’ finest poets
    One of the Smokies’ finest poets Editor’s note: This Back Then column by George Ellison first appeared in the Feb. 15, 2012, edition of The Smoky Mountain News. Olive Tilford Dargan is fairly well known in literary circles as the author of From My Highest Hill (1941), a delightful collection of autobiographical…
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