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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pickerel frog heard "snoring" in Universal Pond

Pickerel frog (Rana palustris)

You know spring is near when the male frogs start to croak for mates.

We have been hearing chorus frogs and spring peepers for several days at the nature center, but on Monday, 27 February, staff vet Dr. Louise Conrad heard a pickerel frog calling from the Universal Pond in front of the Visitor Center.

Pickerel frogs are generally tan with large squarish spots down their flanks. Their calls are described as a low-pitched snore, "yeeeeeeeowwwwwww."

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Join Ijams at Rose Glen in Sevierville

The third annual Rose Glen Literary Festival will be Saturday in Sevierville. Open to authors either from Sevier County or who have written about the county or the Great Smokies, the festival runs from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

This year Ijams' own Paul James and Stephen Lyn Bales will speak at 10 a.m.
Bill Landry and Michael Knight are the keynote speakers at the luncheon.

Join us.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ijams' opossum celebrates second birthday

Dr. Louise Conrad with our now two-year-old opossum

Time flies. And opossums age. But, then again, don't we all.

The Ijams opossum, a beloved favorite education animal, is celebrating her second birthday. A school field trip highpoint, she is often shown to woos and ahhs.

Injured two years ago, she was taken to UT Veterinary Hospital and treated but ultimately it was determined she was non-releasable. Although in the wild, Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana)—North America's only marsupial—rarely live past the age of three (a remarkably short lifespan for any mammal). However, we are hopeful that with the constant care of our on-staff vet, Dr. Louise Conrad, our sweet marsupial lives many, many more years.

- Text and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales.

A photo taken shortly after her arrival in 2010.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bluebird box workshop adds 19 new nesting sites

Ijams annual Bluebird Box Workshop was last Saturday. Peg Beute reports that a total of 19 new nesting sites have been added to the Knox County yards.

Bluebirds, Carolina wrens, chickadees, tree swallows, as well as titmice all use the same size nest box. (Although with titmice, it needs to be 15 feet above the ground.) With the warmer temperatures many of the local cavity nesters are already starting to check out and perhaps even claim territory. And what better territory than a box made at Ijams? 

Thank you to all who attended. We still have a few unassembled boxes in case you want to purchase one. Proceeds go to the education department. Contact Peg at 577-4717, ext. 114.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Despite the cold, witch hazel blooms near Plaza Pond

Albeit seems late in the season—since they normally bloom in November, the last plant to flower during the growing season—the witch hazel planted near the Plaza Pond in front of the Visitor Center is beautiful in yellow fringe.

Apparently, there are two species of the witch: Hamamelis virginiana and H. vernalis in our area, and sources tell me the latter blooms later, and I've been looking forward to writing a sentence where I could use a phrase that included both latter and later. So, there you go.

Rather than being an early sign of spring, with today's blast of sub-freezing temperatures, it's a late sign of winter.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The holidays are officially over

It's official: the holidays are over.

Every year people bring their castoff Christmas trees to Ijams to have them recycled. The first one usually shows up the day after Christmas; the last one sometime after Groundhog Day. (Yes. Some folks hold onto that holiday spirit much longer than others.)

This morning Ed, Ben, Warren and Zach sent 351 Fraser firs and other assorted conifers through the shredder. The resulting mulch will be used in the landscaping at Ijams. And for now, the parking lot smells very evergreeny.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bird WalkAbouters found more bonhomie than birds

Birding along Volunteer Landing: coots, gulls, ducks.

Birding at Seven Islands in search of raptors produced more herons and sparrows.

Although this has not been a typically cold winter, it has produced its share of heavy overcast, deary days. We're talking gray. 

The last two birding WalkAbouts have really kindled more bonhomie than birds. Still just getting out and strolling with folks is uplifting in itself. N'est-ce pas?

We did get a good look at the topless Henley Street Bridge. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales.

The now topless Henley Street Bridge,  January 28, 2012