Sunday, December 25, 2011

Golden Christmas

Our Christmas Eve hike led us by this little winter jewel, a blooming goldenrod on the lip of Walden Ridge. It sits in a small patch of dirt between the sandstone outcroppings that layer the last pitch to the ridge top. It would have been easy to miss or step on. I have no idea what species it is. In such harsh micro habitat, a particular plant can get dwarfed and twisted in the fight to survive, and the normal identifying characteristics escape me and my book.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I noticed this rock that turned up when I was digging on the edge of a service road above the creek. We see fossils in sandstone a lot but nothing like this in a conglomerate. The rock itself is about 6 inches across. What can anyone tell us about this?

More pictures
Whites Creek Fossil

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Morning after the storm

I was expecting all the leaves to be knocked to the ground but this was the view in the early light. As you can tell, in winter we don't get first light. The Rhea County side of Whites Creek Gorge hogs it all. That's fine with me because we get the views.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking Up the Hill

Taken from the bedroom balcony looking north. We're getting storms today so this may be the peak. I am amazed at how the same view looks so different as the light changes at different times of the day.

 Here's another shot in different light. The main tree species from left are black oak(still green), shag bark hickory, tulip tree (triple trunk, also mistakenly called yellow poplar), assorted soft maples, dogwoods, and a southern red cedar (actually a juniper).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Around the Yard

A Dahlia from the garden.

I think this plant is the most under appreciated plant in Tennessee. It'a a Farkleberry. (Yeah, I know) It's native and is a most beautiful landscape plant. The berries are edible, though a bit seedy. The foliage is spectacular in Fall. And it grows in lousy soil...But slowly. So it won't be a nursery favorite. Would you pay a bit more for a native plant that was good for the environment and the native wildlife?

I would!  This one is just outside my kitchen window.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Visitors Now Dropping In

This Summer Tanager hasn't been seen all summer but is hanging out at the suet feeder for a few days now that it's fall. We've had scarlet tanagers all summer until a few weeks ago. This guy seems almost tame. Too bad he likes the shadows. A full sun photo would be spectacular. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Crack Them Dams Wide Open!"

American Rivers is the premier organization in the USA that works on the restoration and protection of America's waterways. One of their projects is to remove old dams and restore free flow where it can be done safely. You can watch this happen today.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Before The Storm

There's a big blow currently drowning the Gulf Coast that is supposedly on its way here. We can use it. In the winter this is usually a class two/three shoal just above the Blue Hole.

Here's the view of the same spot from below.

Here is the entire flow of Whites Creek coming into the Blue Hole at the moment. That leaf will just fit through the slot. There is a historical measurement of zero flow for more than ten days on Whites Creek, so this isn't too bad. We've seen it lower but never zero.

One of the cool things to see at low flow are the fish trapped in shallow pools. They can hide more easily than you think. As you walk up to it, a pool will be churning with fish and then the water rips to pieces and there's nothing there when it settles. I watched one pool for a bit and this guy moved from one rock to another. Cute!

This shows his relative size,  just so you don't think there's a monster catfish trapped in a shallow spot, although there may well be one somewhere with that exact problem right now.

In addition to the catfish I watched log perch, tangerine darters, several other darters, white tail shiners, log rollers, warpaint shiners, goat head sucker, and several mystery fish. A biologist may be able to i.d. some of these but I can't. I'm thinking I really need that underwater digital camera in a bad way.

The rain starts tonight.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Spotfin Chub

Spotfins used to live in Whites Creek and may still. We certainly haven't seen them lately, as in 50 years or so. Whitetail shiners, however, are abundant.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Flowers from Today's Walk

These are taken near the start of the classic Whites Creek whitewater run. I think the orchid is the showy orchis but I don't know for sure. It was a pleasant surprise to see them after my hiking buddy spotted them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Things That Make Me Happy

Placing an area into a biological reserve is often fought by extractive interests, in this case fishermen. But ten years later the fishing along the perimeter of the reserve has more than made up for the loss and the reserve itself is the healthiest and most productive in the world.

Opponents of conservation, however, argue that regulating fishing will destroy jobs and hurt the economy–but they are wrong, and there are real-world examples that prove this. A scientific study published today by the Public Library of Science shows that protecting an area brings the fish back, and creates jobs and increases economic revenue for the local communities. I have seen it with my own eyes and, believe me, it is like a miracle, only that it is not–it’s just common business sense.

World Heritage Biosphere Reserve from Gulf Program on Vimeo.

An Ocean Miracle

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Whites Creek Palooza 2011

Here are some shots taken by Pat Rakes of Conservation Fisheries Inc. We found a species previously unseen on the Palooza surveys but missed several that we know are in there. Things go on in the fish world that we just don't understand or even know about yet. Ten days ago there were scores of huge gar. We had a big rain and now there are only a few left in the big pools. I'll post more later.

If the slideshow doesn't start for you here's the link

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The measured wingspan of this beautiful polyphemus moth is just over 6 inches. It's not the biggest of our native moths but danged close. The caterpillars live on most of our hardwood trees and can eat 80,000 times their birth weight before metamorphosis. They rarely cause harm to their host trees. This one has expired and is a bit faded but still magnificent.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

He's Ba'ack!

OK, I confess. Been to the beach.

We were staying at a 1939 era Inn with no phone, no TV, no Internet, and no air conditioning. It was 101 degrees Monday and I developed a relationship with an electric window fan. We were the new kids since most of the other guests have been coming on the same week for decades. They book the next year as they are checking out. The other guests included an investment broker, a successful artist, a graphic designer, the family of an Oscar winning (Best) actor (He couldn't come this year because he is on location, and no, I'm not giving up his name...Famous actors deserve their vacations, too...particularly their families.), and some other incredibly interesting and totally delightful people. One couple have been coming to the inn for over 40 years. One couple told us they had "only" been coming there for 14 years..."Only"?

"Bucky was raised here", his dad said. "He was 4 when we first came here." Bucky is now 39. "We got kicked out of the other inn we were staying at because of a mysterious fire that was blamed on the fireworks that some of the kids were enjoying." The Seaview took Bucky and his Dad in and that other inn got taken out by Hurricane Hugo in an act of divine retribution for the owner's dislike of children after they turned three.

Wait...No air conditioning?

It was wonderful. We sat on the various decks and porches, depending on the prevailing breeze at the time, and talked with each other. I swear! Talked with each other!
The sunset ceremony on the Marsh side was rather pleasant.

As we were leaving there were no goodbyes. It was all, "See you next year!"

Could happen.



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wild Flower Art Installation

I used an old tire I cleaned out of the creek to hold up a target board when I sighted in a 22 rifle last March. I still haven't hauled the tires to the dump. Since the dump charges for tires they don't get taken there and instead wind up thrown off bridges by the truckloads and get washed downstream to us. I'm thinking Mom Nature decided to show me how tires can be used as an art installation when she grew a Carolina Wild Petunia right in the middle of the bull's eye. I know it is a ruellia but I have no idea which one. While I had the camera out I thought you might like to compare monardas, the tame bee balm and the wild bergamont.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Camping With the Blue Ghost

I don't have a picture of these little guys but we had one float right into camp last night.

These caught our collective eye as we hiked and swam. It made for an interesting installation on the edge of the campsite. Variously, there are bottles, galls, fossil rocks, a gig made with duck tape and a hand forged fork, shell casings, and a driftwood unicorn.

I have always wanted to see a walking fern and now I have. This one grows on a sandstone ledge. The tips of the fronds seek out the ground and will sprout a new plant if things go well.

The fern count for the weekend is 14:

Christmas fern
intermediate wood fern
lady fern
hay scented fern
horseshoe maidenhair
New York Fern
Rock Cap fern
Royal fern
Climbing fern
maidenhair spleenwort
rattlesnake fern
ebony spleenwort

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beast on the Basil

I'm not sure what this beastie is supposed to be mimicking but it's doing a great job of it. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yesterday and Last Night

A rare treat is to see a cucumber tree blossom close up. This tree has lain down next to one of our trails but has still been blooming nicely for a number of years now. The blossoms are very large and fragrant. 

Goats Beard

Partridge berries are often noted for the big red fruit but the twin flowers are worth getting down to see.

As I was editing photos this night visitor flew up to look in on me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Strange Beast on the Bird Feeder

This little guy (or girl) makes the leap from the deck rail to the bird feeder, stuffs his cheeks and leaps back. We have sworn off cats after out beloved Maggie went on to that great mouse hunt in the sky (Actually she's becoming one with the earth next to a hickory tree). The change in the wild life near the house has been amazing. Ground birds and ground squirrels are now abundant near the house. Even the larger birds are hanging closer. I almost stepped on a pileated woodpecker a few minutes ago. What he was doing on the ground I have no idea. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


The mist monsters were out this evening after the storm passed through. You have to be here...

This is a Hippeastrum, not an Amaryllis as it is often sold as.

We have had this one for a couple of years. It is an impressive bloom and easy to care for in the off season. This one sits a couple of feet above the kitchen table as I type.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Indigo Bunting Tragedy

I kicked myself and put up the bird screens. Too late for this beautiful jewel...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Today's Walk at Whites Creek

Check back for a few more shots, including the gay wings(now posted). The Gay wings are new for me just this year. They grow in colonies and follow a strategy similar to orchids in that the flower mimics an insect in order to get pollinated, as opposed to providing nectar in payment for services rendered. Lured with a promise of sex, the insect pollinates the flower but doesn't appear to receive anything in return. Life just isn't fair, sometimes.

Updated with a few more shots.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Just Now

Since I couldn't get the yellow throated warbler to display and hold still for a picture, you'll have to make do with this handheld telephoto shot in cloudy conditions of the scarlet tanager that hangs around the front yard.