- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Stephen Lyn Bales, editor

Autumn at Ijams

Autumn at Ijams
Ijams Visitor Center

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Frozen: ice storm coats nature center, Visitor Center closed

Wiki:media commons
Last night's ice storm has turned the nature center into a frozen wonderland. The roads and parking lot are icy, so be careful. Although the grounds are open, the Visitor Center will be closed today through Thursday, perhaps longer since more snow and freezing rain may be on its way. Time will tell.

Rumor has it that a fearless princess named Sammi, who had been away in the warm land of Mardi Gras, has now set off on an epic journey alongside a rugged iceman named Kris, his loyal pet reindeer and a naive snowman to find her estranged sister, whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped Ijams in eternal winter. Once found, the ice will melt and the Visitor Center will reopen. 

Until then, while you're iced in at home it is suggested you watch the movie Frozen with your family and "Let it Go, Let it Go." - Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Update: first Red-headed woodpecker at Ijams

Juvenile red-headed woodpecker. Photo by Jason Dykes

Jason Dykes visited Ijams last weekend and managed to get the best photo yet of the juvenile red-headed woodpecker hanging around the parking lot at the Visitor Center.

Adult red-headed woodpecker. Photo: wiki commons.
At Ijams we are always in search of the teachable moment: Note that juvenile birds do not look like adult birds, so identification can be tricky.

The Ijams' bird is maturing (see Jason's photo above), the adult red feathers on the head are starting to grow. In a few weeks the entire head will be red, the upper back will be black and the lower back—made up of the secondary wing feathers—will be white, creating a very striking adult bird. (See photo at left.)

This is the first ever red-headed woodpecker documented at Ijams. Woo-hoo. 

Here's hoping our bird hangs around awhile so we can witness the transformation. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Local Wolf Pack goes on a wintertime hike at Ijams

Last weekend, Ijams welcomed Boy Scout Wolf Pack 154 from Powell for a wintertime nature hike. We walked around the park taking the River Trail to Toll Creek and then onto Mead's Quarry Lake all the while looking for interesting plants, animals and geological formations. 

Ijams has been hosting scouting activities for over 90 years. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Friday, February 6, 2015

Uncommon birds still can be found around Visitor Center

There has been some good winter birds of note recently at Ijams. And you really do not have to walk that far to find them. 

In addition to the juvenile red-headed woodpecker that's been hanging around the parking lot, last weekend in front of the Visitor Center we had a purple finch and a pine siskin. (There's got to be more. They never travel alone.)

Chuck Cooper managed to photograph the magnificent raspberry-colored finch with blooming witch hazel in the background.

While Jason Dykes located the young red-headed.

Thanks, Chuck and Jason!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Local groundhogs visit Ijams, predict winter's end, or not

Lynne McCoy with Hobo, TV reporter Emily Stroud and educator Peg Beute

Forget about Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania is practically in another country.  We could call it North-America but that name has already been taken.

On Monday, February 2, Groundhog Day was celebrated at Ijams with TWO of the plump prognosticating rodents.  And two is better than one. 

Senior naturalist Peg Beute served as the event's host and local animal rehabilitator Lynne McCoy, brought “Pockets” and “Hobo,” two rescued groundhogs she cares for. 

Did they see their shadows? Well, yes and no. It was cloudy in the morning and cleared late in the day. So there will be six more weeks of winter or there won't be six more weeks of winter. 

Weather crystal-balling is such a tricky business, WBIR Channel 10 covered it live.

For Live@5@4 Emily Stroud's report click: Groundhogs@Ijams

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos, Jennifer Roder, Sammi Stoklosa. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ijams Seed Swap draws over 200 people, lots of gardening talk

"However many years she lived, Mary always felt that she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow," wrote Frances Hodgson Burnett in The Secret Garden.

Winter. It's cold. It’s dreary. But, we all know, spring is on the way.

Traditionally, this is the time of the year to look forward to better weather and start planning your garden. Whether it’s a backyard plot or a container on your downtown balcony, just what are you going to plant this year?

There was a time when you didn’t buy seeds, you traded for them.

Ijams held its first Seed Swap in 1995. This past Saturday marked its 20th anniversary. Over 200 people—Ijams members, friends and visitors—came together and brought their favorite seeds, cuttings or bulbs to share with others. Plus there was a lot of gardening talk and hints of spring fever.

- Peg Beute, Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Juvenile red-headed woodpecker still at Ijams

UPDATE: The juvenile red-headed woodpecker reported in the last post was still in the trees that surround the parking lot at the Visitor Center yesterday.

Sammi, Paul and others reported seeing it.

Come on down!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Monday, January 26, 2015

Seven species of woodpecker (a record) found at Ijams

Notice the white secondary feathers beginning to come in
to form the  triangle on the back.

This is the kind of thing that makes birders quiver. 

Last Saturday, John O'Barr, Jay Sturner and Jimmy Tucker found seven species of woodpecker in one and a half hours at Ijams.

Five species live at Ijams year round: the downy, hairy, red-bellied and pileated woodpeckers, plus the northern flicker. In winter the yellow-bellied sapsucker joins them. 

But, that's only six.

The seventh was the surprise. The triumvirate of birders spotted a juvenile red-headed woodpecker in the Ijams parking lot, the first ever documented during the modern era. H.P. Ijams may have seen them but today it's a species common on the Cumberland Plateau, but only rarely seen in the valley

John managed to get a photo. "Not a great pic, the lighting was terrible, and he didn't show himself too well before he flew away," he emailed. 

But, any photo that documents this species at the nature center is a memorable photo.

Great job!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ijams Hiking Club kicks off 2015 season with Bluff Trail outing

The Ijams Hiking Club went on its first outing of 2015 last Saturday. Our group leader Eric Johnson lead us along a section of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness: South Loop. 

The group meets once a month with a goal of hiking all the trails at Ijams and the rest of the urban wilderness.

This time out, we focused on the Dozer and Bluff Trails on the east side of Forks-of-the-River Wildlife Management Area. Bluff Trail is spectacular, little more than a goat trail that hugs the cliff overlooking Sea Ray Island along the French Broad River just upstream from where the Tennessee River begins.

Our next hike will be somewhere in the urban wilderness on Saturday, February 7 at 2 p.m. To register call (865) 577-4717. ext. 110.

-Stephen Lyn Bales  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Peg's serving breakfast at Ijams

Come on down. The Visitor Center is open.

Peg Beute is serving breakfast from 9:30 to 11 a.m. with all proceeds going to the education department.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Whoodee who, Ijams Owl Prowl set for this Friday evening

Last week, the Ijams great horned owl granted its first TV interview of the New Year to WBIR Channel 10's Live@5@4 effervescent reporter Emily Stroud.

The two talked about upcoming birding programs at the nature center like the Owl Prowl this Friday evening at 6 p.m.

At Ijams the great horned owls that live around Mead's Quarry Lake are probably already on the nest.

Jennifer Roder and Sammi Stoklosa will the the hosts for the evening program.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cove Lake proves to be cold lake, but birds didn't mind

Horned grebe. Photo by Jason Dykes. 

The last Ijams Birding & Brunch on-the-go of 2014 was to Cove Lake in search of waterfowl. So, perhaps it was apropos that the weather turned foul. 

White-throated sparrow. Photo by J. Dykes.
So, it proved to "bundled for birds and brunch." And the birds: ducks, grebes, coots did not disappoint, they ignore the cold, feathers make great insulation. 

American coots. Photo by Jason Dykes.
Highlights were a lone horned grebe, hooded mergansers, American coots and plenty of gadwalls. 

 The New Year will see more Birding & Breakfast Club adventures, almost always on the second Saturday of the month. 

Hooded merganser. Photo by Jason Dykes.
The first is Saturday, January 10, an indoor chat about "Winter Birds." 

Plus, Peg will supply breakfast at Ijams.

And then on February 14: a roadshow brunch to Hiwassee to look for cranes and eagles.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays to our many friends and visitors

Happy Holidays
from the staff of Ijams

The park and trails are open 365 days a year.

The Visitor Center will be closed from 
December 22 until January 5
so that our staff can spend time with their families.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ijams hosts Gifts from the Garden workshop

Gardeners love to share their gardens, and there seems to be no end to the gifts that can be created with the bounty. Herbs, flowers and leaves can be turned into thoughtful gifts to give year round. In this make-and-take workshop last Saturday, Ijams own green thumb Peg Beute helped make quick and easy Gifts from the Garden. Special handmade holiday presents that friends and family will love to receive!

- Jennifer Roder. Photos Stephen Lyn Bales.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ijams Gift Shop features local artists, unique gifts

The holidays are upon us. Soon, the comfort foods will abound, carols will be heard everywhere, and the general hustle and bustle of the season will fully take over. This is the perfect time to start thinking of the gifts that you will be giving to others this year, and what better way than to shop local.

Ijams is home to a gift shop filled with the works of over 35 local artists, crafters and designers. Everything from local jams, beautiful jewelry, wood-turned bowls, handmade soaps and even honey from Ijams’ own beehives line the shelves. There is something for everybody in the gift shop.

And the Ijams Gift Shop will be open through December 20.

By Sarah Brobst. Photos Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Marketplace @ Ijams featured unique gifts

The second annual Holiday Marketplace @ Ijams was last Sunday. The Visitor Center was packed with artists, crafts folk, cooks and writers. All were on hand for holiday shoppers looking for that extra special, unique gift. It was great fun with ample community spirit.

Ijams supports local artisans!

And, if you missed it, Sarah Brobst has loaded the Gift Shop with samples of their work. You still have time to find that perfect one-of-a-time gift. 

Pats of the back to all of the friendly vendors and a big hug to our own Sarah for pulling it all together! Super great job, Sarah!! 

- Stephen Lyn Bales