May 3 and 4 were the dates for this year’s 30th annual edition of the Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition. This trip began in 1984 as the brainchild of George Ellison, Bryson City resident, author and naturalist; Rick Pyeritz, M.D., who had a practice in Bryson City before he became medical director at University of North Carolina Asheville; and Fred Alsop, Ph.D., field guide author and ornithologist at East Tennessee State University.
I was invited to help lead a bird walk focusing on wood warblers at this year’s 64th annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was invited to help by Dr. Patricia Blackwell-Cox.
Somewhere beyond the rain and clouds, in the wee hours yesterday morning (April 15), there was a striking blood moon accompanied by fiery mars during a total lunar eclipse. The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles streamed the event live so I imagine you can Google it and get a look.
Despite last week’s chill and blustery snow, we are in the throes of spring migration. Actually, migration never stops. There is a bird somewhere on its way to somewhere else every month of the year. Purple martins have reached Florida by January. In June around the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge you might find red knots headed north and least sandpipers headed south.
People say the corporate world has no soul. Corporations don’t give a rat’s behind about their employees, especially after they’re gone. And the flip side is employees are just there to get a paycheck. They do what it takes, and if they’re lucky, they have a job that pays the bills while they can’t wait to get the heck outta there. Well, I’m here to tell you it ain’t always so. I mean, we have a great example right here in North Carolina.
A river of burnt umber flows every year from southern Canada through the U.S. to the oyamel fir forests in the mountains west of Mexico City. This river tumbles along in a kind of bubbly joy reserved for kids, fairies, hermits, counterfeit curmudgeons and anyone whose soul is pricked by unimaginable beauty not trying to be beautiful — simply being.
No better way to celebrate a big thaw than an impromptu field trip. We rounded up kids, friends and friends’ kids and headed for the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. Our first stop at the Arboretum was the Baker Exhibit Center. Denise had checked online before we left and said there was a dinosaur exhibit there. I was curious to find out how dinosaurs were going to be exhibited at the Arboretum. Like most things at the Arboretum, it was totally cool.
In my youth, never did a B-western movie make it to the end without the bad guy being cornered and denounced for the “yellow-bellied sapsucker” he was. Yellow-belly and/or yellow-bellied has, for various etymological reasons, been associated with cowardice. Sapsucker, I don’t know, maybe it just sounds kinda lowlife.
Looking for something fun for the kids on a cold and/or rainy winter’s day. The Discovery Place in Charlotte has got you covered. We spent three-and-a-half hours there this past weekend with our two daughters Izzy (12) and Maddie (8) and we never heard a single “I’m bored” or “I’m tired” or “Can we go now.”
I mentioned the fact a couple of weeks ago that N.C. House Bill 74— the Regulatory Reform Act of 2013 — was set to begin the process of reviewing, readopting and/or repealing all state rules and that the first rules under the dissection scope would be those related to surface water quality and wetland regulations.