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

Autumn at Ijams

Autumn at Ijams
Ijams Visitor Center

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Four-year-old Trooper celebrates fourth birthday at Ijams

Landlubbers, ahoy!

Best wishes go out to Trooper who celebrated his fourth birthday with a pirate-themed party at the nature center.

Crawdad Willie served as host pirate, assisted by Saltwater Charlie. aaagh!

Here is a link with information about: Birthday Parties at Ijams. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

TN Naturalist @ Ijams class of 2015 meet for first time

Senior naturalist Peg Beute looks for frogs and newts in a Homesite pond

The 2015 class of the TN Naturalist @ Ijams met last Saturday for their first of a series of classes. 

This year there are 25 people taking the course which wraps up in November and covers a wide range of topics: trees, wildflowers, birds, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, geology, fungi and even one late night class in September called the "Nocturnal Naturalist."  

This is the third year that Ijams is involved in this state-wide program. In addition to the 12 classes, students must put in 40 hours of volunteer work at Ijams or elsewhere. After all the requirements are met, the students will become certified Tennessee Naturalists. 

Senior naturalist Peg Beute and education director Jennifer Roder conducted the first class and afterwards the group went into the woods to look for early signs of spring. 

Welcome class of 2015!

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos by Jen Roder. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Ijams owls are easier to find before the leaves unfurl

Aaah! The warmth of a sunny spring day. After several weeks of snow, ice, rain and overcast days, it feels good to just sit in the sun and soak up the rays.

Just ask the barred owls that live in the woods behind the Visitor Center.

Photographer Chuck Cooper had a couple of recent encounters. Although the great blue heron is on our logo, the Ijams barred owls have become more of our signature species. We've had people drive all the way from Kentucky just to photograph them. Here is some of what Chuck saw. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Soup-eaters, bird searchers complete their quest


Ijams American woodcock searchers and soup-eaters enjoyed Peg's belly-warming soup last Saturday evening and then completed their quest, finding the elusive squat, upland shorebirds known as woodcocks a.k.a. timberdoodles just before darkness fell.

American woodcocks are migrating through the county on their way to their breeding grounds to the north. A few nest in East Tennessee, we are at the southern edge of their range. 

"Superbly camouflaged against the leaf litter, the brown-mottled American Woodcock walks slowly along the forest floor, probing the soil with its long bill in search of earthworms. Unlike its coastal relatives, this plump little shorebird lives in young forests and shrubby old fields across eastern North America. Its cryptic plumage and low-profile behavior make it hard to find except in the springtime at dawn or dusk, when the males show off for females by giving loud, nasal "peeeeennnnt" calls and performing dazzling aerial displays," states the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

Superbly camouflaged, indeed. And finding them in the twilight is always a challenge, but this is an annual pre-spring ritual at the nature center. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rare conjunction of Lynns in alignment this morning at Ijams

We had a rare “planetary alignment” of three of the four "Lynns" that routinely work or volunteer at Ijams Nature Center this morning.  And oddly, each spells their name a bit differently.

Flanking this Stephen Lyn is volunteer naturalist Lynne Davis on the left and on the right is children's story time reader Lynn Keffer. If only wildlife rehabilitator Lynne McCoy had been there, it would have been all four Lynns in conjunction.

Photo taken by Lynn's son. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ijams Spring Break Camp in session the entire week

Ijams Spring Break Camp is just finishing their first day. 

Most of the activities were outside today because what a beautiful day it was! Here educator Sammi Stoklosa plays the sound of a barred owl for the campers.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cub Scouts visited Ijams, brought blue skies with them

Rain. Rain. Rain. But luckily, the showers stopped long enough last Wednesday afternoon for an one hour naturalist-led hike as Ijams welcomed Cub Scout Pack 125 from Farragut.

And guess what? As we entered the woods the clouds were beginning to part and by the time we got to the lower overlook—we had BLUE sky!

Yes. Real blue sky.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Friday, March 13, 2015

Peg is serving breakfast at Ijams

Come on down.

Our favorite cook, Peg Beute is serving breakfast in the morning from 9:30 to 11 a.m. with all proceeds going to the education department.

And she'll be featuring the laid-back sultry smooth sounds of jazz guitarist Sam Glover. Oh, so mellow! Is that a Steely Dan t-shirt he is wearing? Yes. Oh, so cool.

What better way to start your weekend!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Autism families group welcomed to Ijams today for hike

Ijams welcomed Artistic Spectrum, a group creating opportunities for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, here today for a picnic, nature hike and scavenger hunt with cameras around the River Trail.

We dodged the ice, remaining snow and muddy trails to have a good time.

Thanks, Veronica.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ijams Hiking Club explores Burnett Ridge and the Crag

Ijams Hiking Club at the Crag

In early February, the Ijams Hiking Club explored another portion of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness South Loop network of trails. 

This time it was the Burnett Ridge and Imery's Trail that go up and over the ridge and wrap around the western most quarry pit of Ross Marble. 

This pit is filled with waste lime, leftover from the quicklime operation that happened in the area decades ago. Consequently, it is now filled with Eastern red cedars, a local species that only grows in alkaline or sweet soil. You simply do not find them in the acid-rich soils of the Great Smokies. 

The group also visited the Crag. 

The congenial hiking club meets the first Saturday of every month. Join us! To register for the March 7 gathering call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110. 

On Imery's Trail
Quarry pit with discarded lime and cedars

Friday, February 27, 2015

Some ice and snow remain, but Ijams is open again

Four ice and/or snow storms in a row left our parking lots pummeled, park frozen and doors closed but we are open again. Be careful on the trails, but enjoy your visit.

It is rumoured that spring is on the way. (Pass it on.)

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  

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.