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

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ijams Sunday ologists go Dragon Questing

Insect whisperer Jackson

Kids and bugs. What better way to spend a summer afternoon? Yes, we know, it's old school and kids aren't entertained by real bugs, only virtual bugs. But, surprise, surprise.

Sunday's Dragon Quest at Ijams unfolded on an ideal afternoon to study the carnivorous order of insects: Odonata—the toothed ones. We had beautiful weather to search for dragons and even damsels.

And our group managed to catch and release and/or photograph three species of dragonfly: Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta), Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) and Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis). Plus one species of damselfly; best guess Eastern Red Damsel (Amphiagrion saucium).

Thanks to all dragon-ologist and to Jason Dykes and Rex McDaniel for their steady camera work and to Kim, Nick and Clare for helping with the outdoor activities.

Next up: Flutterby-ology in Sunday, September 18, 2 p.m. to register call 577-4717, ext. 110.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Searching for dragonfly nymphs called naiads. Photo Rex McDaniel
A pair of skimmer dragons. Photos by John Goodall
Sorting naiads. Photo by Rex McDaniel
Blue dasher dragonfly Photo by Jason Dykes

Eastern pondhawk dragonfly Photo by Jason Dykes
Slaty Skimmer dragonfly Photo by Jason Dykes

Perhaps eastern red damsel??  Photo by Clare Dattilo

A dragonfly nymph's shed exoskeleton is called an exuviae. Isn't that a fun word? Photo by Clare Dattilo 

Photo be Rex McDaniel
 And as always the families brought most excellent dragonfly foods to share. Here's a sampling. 
Photos by Rex McDaniel

Ijams Dragon-ologists

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summitt, once injured bald eagle returned to the wild at Ijams

Photo by Bruce McCamish

Yesterday morning, the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) returned a once-injured bald eagle to the wild at Ijams. 

The eagle, now named Summitt in honor the late head coach of the Lady Vols, had been found in a leg trap near Huffaker Ferry upstream from Ijams. TWRA officer Roy Smith, who was in attendance for the release, rescued the downed eagle last March

Ijams was honored to be chosen, since H.P. Ijams first began calling the area along the Tennessee River a "bird sanctuary" in the 1920s.

AEF's famous education eagle Challenger was also on hand for the release.  

AEF and Ijams are both non-profits. Your donations are greater appreciated.

Ijams thanks Al, Julia and Laura with AEF and all the people who attended. And thank you Bruce and Chuck for sharing your photos.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Photo by Chuck Cooper
Summitt flies free. Photo by Chuck Cooper
Photo by Chuck Cooper
Photo by Chuck Cooper

AEF's Laura Sterbens and Challenger
Eagle watchers at Ijams

Monday, August 8, 2016

'Jeffery' the snake lives outside near the Visitor Center

If you have visited Ijams this summer you may know that the Visitor Center as acquired a resident black rat snake that lives outside near the building. After all, we are a wildlife sancuary.

We see the snake every now and then and know that it is working to keep down our resident population of mice, moles and shrews. 

A week ago, after a morning rain, one of the fathers of the scouts attending the Scout Sleepover happened to get the above photo, while one of the scouts gave the mascot snake a name.

Meet Jeffery. 

Thank you, Matthew!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Visitor video captures heart and soul of Ijams

Ijams Nature Center is a lot of things to a lot of people.

But for over 93 years, it has been a safe place for children to explore nature.

To that end, please watch this visitor video our own Jill Sublett found on Vimeo: Make Something Beautiful

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ijams Hiking Club saunters to the sunflower fields nearby

The sunflower fields planted at Forks-of-the-River Wildlife Management Area are spectacular this year. 

The huge composites are pretty to look at but we are not why they are there. The sprawling former farmland is now state-owned and under the care of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The fields are managed to feed wildlife and that's what the sunflowers will do this fall when they all turn to seed. 

According to the ProFlower website, cultivated sunflowers as a food source for people and animals originated in the Americas about 1,000 B.C., and have been cultivated for centuries. "With the European exploration of the New World, the flower’s popularity spread, as the rest of the world began to appreciate its beauty and sustenance." They were made famous by artist Vincent van Gogh, but those flowers planted in Arles, France originated in eastern North America.    

Amy Oakey and Eric Johnson, are the volunteer leaders of the Ijams Hiking Club. We hike once a month. Last Saturday they led a Sunflower Saunter to and around the fields, early in the morning before the intense heat that has been with us for the past couple of weeks.

Needless to say, it was a colorful day.

Thank you, Amy and Eric!

- Stephen Lyn Bales


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

25 "ologists" get their Ijams degrees in Turtle-ology

Last month, on a very hot Tennessee Williams kind of afternoon, 25 people got their degrees in Turtle-ology at Ijams. 

In addition to the Ijams adopted education turtles, we also managed to find several of the shelled reptiles swimming in the river near the greenway. Cooters, sliders or map turtles, it was hard to tell, the distance too great. But needless to say, in the cool water, they looked more comfortable than we were.

Our -ology programs are great for families and the young-at-heart. If you’ve been to one before, you know there are always fun and animal-themed food. Feel free to bring something to share, or just come partake. Last month we had scaly turtle snacks! (See below.)

Sunday, July 17, 2 p.m. 
Cicad-Academy at Ijams
The next -ology in the series is Cicad-Academy, all about the species of cicadas, katydids and crickets that sing and creeeeaaaaak in summer. The two hour class is Sunday. July 17 at 2 p.m. Space is limited; to register call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chinese students studying at UT visit Ijams

Local fitness expert Missy Kane led a group of visiting Chinese college students to Ijams last week. 

The students from Shanghai University of Sport (SUS) were in this country taking classes at the English Language Institute (ELI). The group is hosted in Knoxville by UT professor Rob Hardin. His department (Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies) is providing a Sports Studies Seminar for the 14 students and 2 faculty. 

One of the classes was outdoor recreation. They visited Ijams and met two of our educational animals then Missy Kane led the group on a hike to the sunflower fields at Forks-of-the-River WMA. 

Welcome to Ijams and Tennessee!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ijams Hiking Club conquers new ground & sky bridge

Led by volunteer hike leaders Amy Oakey and Eric Johnson the Ijams Hiking Club explored new ground. On a hot Sunday afternoon, the group hiked from Ijams Mead’s Quarry through Victor Ashe Park to Baker Creek. The last part of the 5.03 trek was along a new trail that features the walking bridge over Red Bud Road.

The bridge itself and Red Bud Crest Trail have only recently been opened. The pedestrian bridge was funded by private donations and a grant from REI.  

Knoxville’s own REI store awarded the $10,000 Community Grant to Legacy Parks Foundation and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club to build the sky bridge in South Knoxville connecting the new Wood property to the greater Urban Wilderness South Loop trail system.

Watch for notice of the Ijams Hiking Club's July outing. For an account of our May hike, click: AC/DC.

Thanks, Amy and Eric!

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos by Amy Oakey.

Hike co-leader Eric Johnson describes the route to Baker Creek.