Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Traditional Christmas Eve Flood

Christmas eve has been high water for the last three years and probably many more if I had kept track. At normal levels you can just walk to the big rock and watch kayakers paddle by. It's a bit high today but several paddlers were out there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Zebra Mussels in Cherokee Lake...This is more than NOT Good

They are about the size of an adult male’s thumbnail, and their shells remind one of the letter “D”, with its alternating light- and dark-colored stripes earning the small mollusk the name Zebra Mussel.
Most folks have probably never seen one, or even if they have, would never think that such a tiny creature is a threat, but officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency are not only familiar with the critter, they’re downright worried about the potential damage Zebras can do to the state’s rivers and lakes.
Discovered some time ago in Norris Lake, the Zebra Mussel has now been positively identified in Cherokee Lake

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hellbender Survey on Whites Creek 8-22-23

 Lee University students set traps for hellbenders on Friday evening. The  plan was to camp out but dine in town. On the way back from supper they encountered a copperhead on the walk up to the camp. While looking at the copperhead they learned, much to the painful revelation of student Sam, that there were actually two copperheads.  Sam was bitten on the ankle. He was taken to the hospital and released. We'll check on him and let you know, but as a 220 man he is probably going to hurt a bit and be fine. Pepper, a 20 dog was bitten on the nose and did fine with a shot of Benadryl and some pain meds. The wilderness has its dangers , but they are well worth it. Sam is the first person I know of that has gotten tasted by a copperhead in White Creek gorge. We see them a lot.

A student checks one of the traps.

Striped musk turtles ruled the day with this trap holding 15!This is a baby with the pronounced ridge on its back. The theory is that it makes it harder for predators to eat them.
They can stay underwater indefinitely by opening their mouths and extending their necks to absorb oxygen from the water. They were all released and watched until they recovered fully and went about their business.

No hellbenders!

WE keep looking, though!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hellbender Survey on Whites Creek 7-27-14

David Hedrick from the Chattanooga Zoo brought out some of his associates from Lee University to try and find hellbenders in Whites Creek. I've seen a dead one years back and we have campers who report seeing them recently. I really want to see a live one and verify there is a reproducing population in the creek. We saw a fine mud puppy, several mollusks, and a number of lively catfish were stirred up from under their rocky hiding places, but no hellbender so far. A new technique has been developed where the stream water is filtered and the filter tested for hellbender dna. The process has become so sensitive that a relative population density can be determined, which amazes me. We'll have those results this winter. In the meantime we plan on a night survey and attempting to trap them as part of the continuing effort. Anyone want to ID the mollusk or the vine flower? The cobble bar prairie plants are blooming for all they are worth at the moment.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Whites Creek Palooza 6-28-2014

We badly need folks to confirm they are coming by replying to this email or donating $25 per person at

Folks, we will be in a wilderness area with all the beauty and dangers that go along with that. You assume all risk for yourself and your wards.

We suggest you dress appropriately for playing in a creek. Water shoes are strongly suggested. You might also want to bring a folding chair. We will have several but not enough for everybody. Mosquitos and no-see-ums are not bad this year but we do have them, in case you want to bring insect repellent. We'll have citronella torches going at Whites Creek Global Headquarters.

Directions to this awesome event are down below in the first COMMENT.

Parking is an issue so car pool where you can. We will try to have parking Nazis to help you but in any case, bring your small car pack it in tight.

There's always parking on the paved road for those who want to walk up to the house. We can shuttle those who want it.

Folks, we have just received word that we will have kegs at Palooza. An additional donation is suggested for those who are of legal age who wish to enjoy some excellent brews. 

Joe and Rita sent this photo of their mosaic to be auctioned off. We have lots of other cool art that you'll have a chance to buy. We'll take your check and probably your credit card.


Know someone who shares our goals and want to invite them? Let us know and we'll work them in if we have room.

This is going to be a good one, folks.

In benefit for the good folks at Conservation Fisheries we will gather for a fun time in Whites Creek Gorge, a 164 acre conservation easement along the creek in Roane County, Tn. (Also our yard) We conduct a serious biological survey during this event that is BYOB. (Actually we do).  While we encourage you to BYOB, we should have some beverages (donations accepted).

We spend as much time at the creek as we can after noon. Supper will be at 7 P.M. at the house. The Rough and Tumble (Freakin' Awesome singers and songwriters) will play for us.  The auction will be at 8 P.M.ish  The official end of things is 9 ish. Some camping is available if you let us know ahead of time.

Got children? We'll work with you on price for them. (Depends on how much they eat ; )


So, Paloozers, Are you ready to party for the fishies?

First off check out Conservation Fisheries and see what good work they do for the environs of Tennessee and the natural diversity of our streams. Then put on your party hat and get out your wallet. Now unlike many fundraisers we think we have an event that's worth way more than the $25 per person, with guided snorkel trips at  3:00, and 4:00. Unguided snorkel trips are continuous. We're seeing a few big gar this year and there's never a shortage of drum, red horse, and small mouth bass, but it's the small and beautiful darters and shiners that really show off Tennessee diversity in the nearly crystal clear Whites Creek. We'll swim with the fish, eat some good food, and listen to some great music and raise a little money for a group on the forefront of saving Tennessee's fish diversity.

Home base will be Whites Creek Global Headquarters
. We'll spend the afternoon at the creek and return to the house for supper and music. We don't provide lunch so take care of that and bring snacks if you want them. Supper will be somewhere around 7 with the auction (several items you might really need in your collection!) and music getting underway at 7. The Whites Creek Jug Band may possibly make a late appearance and play us into the night. The evening will officially end at nine. We have primitive camping available if you let us know ahead of time. 

 We have a limited number of tickets and encourage everyone to buy them as soon as you can so we can keep track of the crowd size. To reserve your ticket go to Conservation Fisheries and click the DONATE button and follow directions. Enter an amount of at least $25 per ticket. Put "Whites Creek" in the comment box. Don't want to use a credit card? Email me and we'll take your cash at the door.

Can't make it this time but still want to show your love for the work these people do?. Go to the Conservation Fisheries web site and donate what you can. We'll forgive your absence and keep you on the mail list for next time and you'll get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with doing good a good thing.


Legal stuff: This is a natural area with all its beauty and danger and you and yours agree by attending  to assume all risk, holding everyone else harmless. 
The rarish Diana Fritilary butterfly emerged today. Folks who are interested should be able to see them in the yard.
Here are pictures from the Whites Creek Conservation Easement album. That should get you ready.

Steve and Annie

 Legal stuff: This is a natural area with all its beauty and danger and you and yours agree by attending to assume all risk, holding everyone else harmless. 

Steve Scarborough (Charles S)
865-354-4363 home/office
865-603-6981 cell

Saturday, May 10, 2014


This little guy found a hideout in plain sight on the water faucet. I certainly didn't notice him until I reached for the handle. 
Copes tree frog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cat Bird in the Garden

Every year brings surprises in Whites Creek Gorge. It is most likely that we just notice things anew that have been here all along, but bird behavior is a volatile thing, adjusts for weather conditions from year to year. I saw my first black throated blue warbler yesterday, comfirmed by a friend who also saw her first in her yard a few miles away. I had no chance for a picture of the black throated blue nor the black throated green warbler I saw a bit later. The yellow throats are regulars at the suet feeder along with the pine warblers. Habitat means everything to a bird species. New this year are the brown thrashers and the cat bird. It's not that they are uncommon elsewhere but that they tend toward scrub thickets and transitional areas. They don't hang out in deep forest all that much and that's what we have around the house. A pair f thrashers seems to have taken up in the brush pile that didn't get burned by our small field and a cat bird has discovered the raised beds in the garden.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yellow Throated Warbler (Update)

I think this is the most beautiful bird in the gorge. This one is fluffed up a bit, but when they slick everything back and display for the girls it can be amazing. I watched one collect dandelion fluff for the nest. Indescribable and awesome!

A good friend came over to take a bird walk yesterday, but they chose to be nearly silent during our hike. We sat by the creek and listened to some obvious old friends, kingfisher, cardinal, and finally a black throated green warbler. As we were heading back we heard a call that was familiar to me but that I had no idea of its source. I have been refering to it as the "chewy-chewy" bird because the last two bits of the call sound like "chewy-chewy" to me. Guess what? Click here to listen! Scroll down to see the song button. Does that sound like the chewy-chewy bird to you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

False Rue Anemone

I wish the folks who named this pretty little wildflower had thought it worthy of having it's own name. I've noticed the small patch for several springs but somehow never got around to looking it up to see what it is. Rue anemone is certainly the more ubiquitous wildflower and is popping out in all its glory all over our woods. As far as I have been able to see, the false rue is limited to one small wetland patch beside a hemlock grove. It is listed as endangered in Florida but seems to be hanging on in most of the Eastern USA. It isn't rare but it isn't everywhere, either. It's listed as "occasional", whatever that means. Our camera died at the exact instant I tred to photograph it so here's the shot from the USDA: Here's the link Go for a walk and look aroound. This is a beautiful time.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring at Whites Creek Journal Global Headquarters

Violet and redbud blossom salad...thinking of Rikki Hall.

There's plenty of redbud blossoms left for the zebra swallowtails and an amazing array of little bee and wasps. ( on that image for a decent picture.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Baby Play in the Gorge

We had three juvenile bald eagles romping in the air in front of my window just now. The adults are busy hauling food to the chick(s) and seem to be flying all times of the day. That's a good sign. The nest has been made much larger this year and is almost to its former glory. Let's hope we don't get the strong storms we had last year that blew it out of the tree. The good news is that the chicks may have fledged earlier than we thought last year and survived the blow down. There's no other explanation for there being three of them right now, since they only keep their juvenile feather for two to three years. I wasn;t ready with the camera when they twirled right up close to me. This is one of them about to land on the far side of the gorge. (Yes, Santa, I really need that 600mm nikon lens.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sure Sign of Spring

This little ruby crowned kinglet is passing through on his northward migration. I took about 20 pictures before I got his "crown". They are hyper little things. Taken through the window, so not perfect but a pretty good shot.