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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Plant Sale, ghostly lecture this Sunday, October 2

Sunday, October 2, 9 AM to 3 PM

This year our 27th annual Fall Plant Sale will feature over 10 local nurseries specializing in herbs, native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and trees, plus vendors selling garden related items, herbal soaps, artwork and food including, the ever-popular Butch's BBQ. Children's activities will be held in Jo's Grove: nature playscape and music will by provided by Chris Durman & Friends. Members receive 10% discount.

Special Sunday Lecture

The morning of the Plant Sale there will be a lecture at 11 a.m. and book signing by Pat Fitzhugh, author of  Ghostly Cries from Dixie,  a chilling discussion about Tennessee's Bell Witch legend with Q & A and Book Signing afterwards
Registration required: call 577-4717, ext. 110.

Plant Sale sponsors: The Knoxville News Sentinel, Prideland Landscaping, Butch's BBQ and WDVX 102.9 FM.

- Sabrina DeVault, Educator. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall bird count at Ijams held last Sunday

Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus)

Sunday was the Knox County Fall Bird Count. Emily and Than Boves, plus Steven Brinkley and Katie Percy counted at Ijams for 4.5 hours.

Although it was a good day, Emily felt a lot of the warblers she saw on Friday had moved on. The migratory species with the highest total was the magnolia warbler, the second highest was Swainson's Thrush. 

Here is their complete list:

> Canada Goose 5
> Wood Duck 1
> Pied-billed Grebe 1
> Great Blue Heron 1
> Green Heron 1
> Mourning Dove 8
> Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
> Chimney Swift 18
> Ruby-throated Hummingbird 3
> Belted Kingfisher 1
> Red-bellied Woodpecker 9
> Downy Woodpecker 9
> Northern Flicker 1
> Pileated Woodpecker 3
> Eastern Wood-Pewee 8
> Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
> Eastern Phoebe 2
> Yellow-throated Vireo 1
> Red-eyed Vireo 3
> Blue Jay 45
> American Crow 9
> Carolina Chickadee 48
> Tufted Titmouse 22
> White-breasted Nuthatch 12
> Carolina Wren 37
> Eastern Bluebird 4
> Gray-cheeked Thrush 2
> Swainson's Thrush 21
> American Robin 5
> Gray Catbird 2
> Northern Mockingbird 5
> Brown Thrasher 6
> Black-and-white Warbler 3
> Tennessee Warbler 17
> Hooded Warbler 1
> American Redstart 6
> Cape May Warbler 1
> Northern Parula 3
> Magnolia Warbler 36
> Bay-breasted Warbler 1
> Blackburnian Warbler 2
> Chestnut-sided Warbler 8
> Palm Warbler 5
> Eastern Towhee 1
> Field Sparrow 1
> Song Sparrow 1
> Scarlet Tanager 8
> Northern Cardinal 19
> Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
> Indigo Bunting 6
> Eastern Meadowlark 1
> American Goldfinch 27

Friday, September 23, 2011

Results of first Ijams' BioBlitzes presented

Coyote caught on camera at Ross Marble

On Tuesday, September 13, Ijams was pleased to welcome back former AmeriCorps team member, Laura Marsh. During her tenure at Ijams last year, Laura conducted two BioBlitzes on our newest property, the Ross Marble Natural Area. 

A BioBlitz is a is a special type of field study, where a group of scientists and volunteers conduct a 24-hour biological inventory, attempting to identify and record the species in a given area. 

In May and June, Laura worked round the clock with a fantastic team of local experts and volunteers to survey a wide variety of species from insects and plants to mammals and birds. Over 260 species were documented over the two 24-hour surveys. Some of the highlights included a camera survey and nocturrnal mist net demontration. The cameras captured photographic documentation of two coyotes, a red fox and a gray fox—a species that had not been documented at Ijams prior to the BioBlitz. 

Mist nets were used by TVA biologists Charles Hofer and Holly LeGrand. Three individual bats were captured, measured and released. We hope to use the data gained from the surveys to enhance our eduational programs and materials. 

A heart-felt “thank you” goes out to all the volunteers and biologists who generously donated so much time to make the BioBlitz efforts such a success!

- Jennifer Roder, Education Director.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Migratory bird walk planned for this Saturday

Female chestnut-sided warbler in summer plumage

Join Emily and Than Boves this Saturday, September 24 for a fall migratory bird walk at Ijams!

It is peak migration right now, so they will look for mixed flocks of birds including multiple warbler species like the chestnut-sided warbler Emily saw this morning in the trees by the parking lot.

We will meet at 7:30 a.m. at the front desk of the Visitor Center. Bring binoculars. Please call 577-4717 ext. 110 to register.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ijams canoeists find ephemeral treasures

Ijams September canoe group

The first Ijams guided canoe trip open to the public on Ijams Quarry Lake turned up an oddity, ghostly aquatic apparitions.

I expected we'd see herons and turtles, which we did, but I didn't believe we'd find the rare freshwater jellyfish that pop up occasionally. The medusa's appearance is sporadic and unpredictable from year to year.

Freshwater jellyfish (Craspedacusta sowerbyi) are not native to North America. They first appeared in a greenhouse aquarium in Washington D.C. in 1907. Since then, they've slowly spread across the country and are usually found in calm, freshwater reservoirs, impoundments, gravel pits and old quarries. Ninety years after they were collected in the nation's capital, the jellies first appeared—or were first documented—in Mead's Quarry Lake in 1997. (Retired TVA biologist Bob Terry, husband of Ijams educator Jean Terry, identified them from collected samples.)

Generally, the small jellies appear in their medusa stage during the heat of summer. This is why I didn't expect we'd find them in mid-September on a cool morning. Lynn Keffer, a canoeist in our group, was the first to see one undulating just below the water's surface, virtually transparent and as wispy as morning fog. About the size of a penny, the jellies are clear to slightly milky white. Walter Cromer, another paddler in our group, quickly became attuned at spotting them swimming around our canoes.

They look like water bubbles, bobbing up and down underwater; one of the most ephemeral lifeforms I've ever written about.

Jelly watchers

C. sowberbyi

The next guided canoe trip I'll be leading is scheduled for Saturday, October 15 at 10:30 a.m. To sign up call me at 577-4717, ext. 119.

- Story by Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Frostweed: an icy plant to watch in winter

Frostweed, Verbesina virginica

Often overlooked because their flowers are "only" white and not something more vivid. This nevertheless has been a great year for frostweed (Verbesina virginica). The tall late-season wildflower dominates the landscaping around the Visitor Center and surrounding plaza.

Also known as white crownbeard, iceplant, iceweed, Virginia crownbeard, Indian tobacco or richweed—so many names, isn't botany confusingly fun—it's a beautiful native addition to any backyard border. 

But why is it called frostweed, iceplant and even iceweed? These names seem much too wintry for such a vibrant September offering.

Truth is, in the winter, the dead stems—still bloated with moisture laden pith—often freeze and split creating thin ribbons of ice exuded from the base of the plant during cold, frosty nights. The delicate shapes are beautiful, yet ephemeral, as the day warms the "ice ribbons" soon melt away.

- Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here at Ijams, our hearts are a bustin'

Hearts a-bustin',  Euonymus americanusis

When this shrub blooms in the spring, its flowers are a bit ho-hum. Small, green, inconspicuous.

It's the fruits that garner all the attention. The common name of this understory shrub refers to the plant's colorful, emotive seed pods which are now ripe and a-bustin'. 

Once the seeds have matured, the magenta capsules burst, scattering the red seeds up to 15 feet. Known in the Smoky Mountains by the folk name hearts a-bustin'(Euonymus americanusis) is now doing just that: a bustin'. 

Look for it on the back terrace at the Ijams Visitor Center.

- Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WalkAbouts take us out and about

Ijams Insect WalkAbout
Special thanks to all of those who attended the recent Insect WalkAbout led by local bugologist Rikki Hall.

Although it was hot, hot, hot, we managed to spend most of the time in the shade catching insects and spiders for Rikki to identify and give us a bit of its life history.

My favorite catch of the day: a blister beetle. Ouch!!

WalkAbouts are like Ijams-on-the-road. We visit local greenways and parks looking for things of interest.  Check out the Ijams events for upcoming WalkAbout adventures. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ijams has your yellow composites. Lots of them!

A sunflower species

Oh. Those yellow composites! A central disk surrounded by rays of yellow petals. Gee willikers! 

And you think identifying sparrows is tough. These two photos are sunflowers, but which ones?  UT Herbarium lists 20 species of native sunflowers in our state, all in the genus Helianthus. 

And then there's the tickseeds (Coreopsis)—there's seven species—and wingstem and yellow crownbeard and leafcup and black- and brown-eyed Susans. All yellow composites. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. 

And then there are the goldenrods—don't get me started—37 species in Tennessee. They're not composites, but they are yellow. 

There are several yellow composites and goldenrods in bloom along the Ijams trails and Will Skeleton Greenway. 

-Story and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales

A sunflower species (perhaps Jerusalem artichoke)