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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ijams newts hold meet-and-greets in Universal Pond

Although the fortunes of the political Newt from Georgia are not going so well at the moment. But, you know how fast those things can flip-flop.

The caucuses being held by the red-spotted newts in the Ijams ponds seem to be going quite well. Congenial. Intimate moments between gentle creatures. No fuss, no muss. Nature is so much more harmonious than politics.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

23rd Annual River Rescue set for Sat. March 31

Every year Ijams organizes and coordinates River Rescue. 

Public shorelines along the Tennessee and Clinch rivers plus a few creeks are cleared of litter. You can help! Able bodies are needed. Be a part of this long-standing volunteer-driven community event and help clean-up local shorelines. Every spring volunteers pick up tons of trash—mostly small floatables plus an occasional tire or runaway lawn chair.

Register today. Groups welcomed! Contact Sarah Brobst at Ijams Nature Center 577-4717 ext. 124.

- Sarah Brobst, volunteer coordinator

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Eastern red bat found on South Cove Trail

Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis)

Bats live at Ijams. Several species have been documented—big brown, little brown Eastern pipistrelle (today known as tricolored bat—but they are not that easy to find or see. Mostly they come out at twilight and fly around the parking lot lights or patrol up and down the river.

There is one species, however, that can be found hiding in plain sight.

Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis) is solitary. They spend their days roosting, hanging upside down from trees and shrubs. They look like dead leaves dangling from branches, but a closer look reveals that the leaves are covered with fur, have cute little ears and are breathing. Dead leaves really don't breathe.

Last week volunteer Rex McDaniel found one along the South Beech Trail and Dr. Louise led me to it. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ijams WalkAbouters: Searching for the good birds

First it was a roadtrip to find a Northern harrier and then sandhill cranes and then displaying woodcocks. Last Saturday it was a search for bald eagles.

What's next?

Perhaps, early arriving prothonotary warblers. Or nesting osprey. Or maybe even calling whip-poor-wills at Chota, the site of the Cherokee peace town.

Stay tuned.

- By Stephen Lyn Bales.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The kids are talking at Spring Break Camp

Spring Break Camp is well underway and the weather is unseasonably, perfectly wonderful. An excellent time to be outdoors with kids, learning in nature's classroom.

For many kids, Ijams is a safe place to play and learn outside away from the confines of traditional classrooms, video games and text messaging.

WBIR Channel 10's John Martin paid a visit:

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sustainability Initiative–Leaving Green Footprints at Ijams

Ijams Sustainability Committee (left to right) Jack Barlow, Dennis Hunter, David Johnson, Sabrina DeVault, Ben Nanny, Paul James and Kara Remington. Not pictured Pam Petko-Seus and Stephen Lyn Bales. 

Sustainability Report #1

The Sustainability Committee (a joint team of Ijams staff and Ijams board members) is excited to announce preliminary work toward creating a truly sustainable environment at Ijams Nature Center, inside and outside.  Committee members are very appreciative of our committee chairman, Dennis Hunter, whose organizational skills and environmental assessment experience have been invaluable.  Thank you Dennis from all of us!

Foundational areas that committee members are exploring are facility and park operations, water and energy usage, waste reduction, recycling, procurement, transportation, the creation of a sustainable land use plan, and educational and communication processes related to our sustainability initiative.  We are excited to have the expertise of the Y-12 Sustainability Team to help us along the way, and Ijams plans to assist Y-12 in developing green areas and nature trails at their site.  More to follow soon.  

- By Pam Petko-Seus

Saturday, March 17, 2012

First bullfrog of 2012 found in Universal Pond

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)

Two days ago Ijams volunteer Rex McDaniel photographed the first bullfrog of the season in the Universal Pond in front of the Visitor Center. 

Bullfrogs are the largest frog found in the Tennessee Valley. Including the back legs—and you have to include them because they are certainly part of the frog—bullfrogs can reach a length of ten inches. Can you say golly-whooper?

Their tadpoles can be seen at almost any time of the year because it takes a full year for them to grow and complete metamorphosis.  

Male bullfrogs' deep-voiced crooning generally begins in the heat of May but temperatures have been so atypical, the males may crank up earlier—jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum. We'll keep you posted. 

- Photo by Ijams volunteer Rex McDaniel. Text Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scouts come to the rescue after recent storm

Photo by Sharon Monett

Heavy storms on March 2 caused a large pine tree to fall across the home-site driveway in front of the Miller building.  Luckily it fell so perfectly it did very little damage yet it would be a large cleanup job.

I was in charge of an Eagle Scout project workday with Boy Scout Troop 1882 on the Discovery Trail—mulching and installing new erosion control—that morning.  One of the leaders, Phil Webb volunteered to run home and get his work truck and equipment to saw up the tree.  Once the tree was cut part of the Troop helped load it to be hauled away. 

It is moments like these when the generosity of others is so appreciated.  Many thanks to Troop 1882 for all the help.

- By Ed Yost

Pictured (left to right) Phil Webb, Sharon Monett, Hasan Husain (in front with the gray sweatshirt, it was
his Eagle Project), Shelby Holt  (a recent Eagle Scout) and Steve McGill.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Displaying timberdoodle found, 26 return home muddy

American woodcock (Scolopax minor)

Call it a rite of spring. Ijams' annual Woodcock Walk to locate a male timberdoodle, a.k.a. mud hen, bogsucker, night partridge, hokumpoke, displaying in hopes of attracting the attention of a female.

Hope springs eternal, after all.

In this case, it was 26 muddy-booted humans, hiding in the bushes and tall grasses that saw the show at twilight.

Experts at concealing themselves in grassy locations, American woodcocks are basically chunky woodland shorebirds related to sandpipers that are so well camouflaged, the males would never find the females unless they advertised their whereabouts.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Woodcock walkers 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ijams 'singles group' hikes at Seven Islands

Singles Group

Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is a 360-acre wildlife preserve located on the French Broad River in Knox County. It’s not uncommon to see a barn owl or coyote around the scenic grassland.

On March 3, I led a group of outdoorsy singles on a hike at Seven Islands. During the 2.6 mile trek, hikers saw bluebirds, great blue herons, black vultures and an Eastern towhee. We were all quite pleased to spot all the birds. However, I was bit disappointed that we didn’t see the Northern harrier. I guess they have moved on.

Check our website for more singles' activities hosted by Ijams Nature Center and bring a friend. For more information about Ijams’ programs, please visit our website at www.ijams.org.

- By Sabrina DeVault, educator

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bloodroot beginning to bloom on Homesite

It’s somehow surprising that one of the first spring ephemerals to plus through the surface has such a startling name.


Its name comes from the color of sap stored in its root or rhizome. As time passes, the rhizome grows just under the surface and creates a colony of the remarkable wildflower. Native Americans used this blood red sap as a dye and body paint and called the plant "puccoon."

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is beginning to bloom on the Ijams Homesite.

For other wildflower locations check out Outdoor Knoxville.

- Text and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ijams staff members attend educational workshop

Ijams staff members Jennifer Roder and Stephen Lyn Bales recently attended the NAI Region 3 Interpreter's Workshop held at Montgomery Bell State Park near Dickson, Tennessee.

The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) is a not-for-profit professional association for those involved in the interpretation of natural and cultural heritage resources in settings such as parks, zoos, museums, nature centers, aquaria, botanical gardens and historical sites.

The regional workshop included numerous sessions about a wide range of topics and several field trips concerning all aspects of environmental and cultural education.

Can you spot the two Ijams staff members in the above group photo?