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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

From Ottosee shale to Lenoir limestone, Moore talked the talk

Harry Moore discussing the geology of Ijams' Mead's Quarry

Retired state geologist and author Harry Moore led a Geology Walk yesterday afternoon at Ijams for adults and young rock-hounds. 

Moore has authored several books about regional and state geology, plus the fossil site at Gray, Tennessee. He also knows the Ijams bedrock and quarries very well having grown-up near the now Ijams' properties. Moore developed his life-long interest in geology in the area. The abandoned quarries were his childhood playground.

Moore discussed the four bedrock layers that underlie Ijams,  west to east: 1. Ottosee Shale Formation (gray shaley rock) exposed at Homesite; 2. Chapman Ridge Formation (sandstone with limey matrix); 3. Holston Formation (industrial grade limestone found at quarries sold as Tennessee Marble); 4. Lenoir Formation (crumbly, shaley gray limestone, Toll Creek east to Forks of the River).

Special thanks to Harry Moore and to Alice Ann!

Text and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales   

Moore points to Mead's Lake as it sits today at the edge of the Holston Formation

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Break Camp enjoys last blast of winter

Just suppose you have Spring Break Camp and winter is still malingering around. What do you do?

Well, you suit-up, go outside and have fun anyway. Monday morning the young campers got to play in the snow! Good old-fashioned fun.

This year, Spring Break Camp, ran for four days: March 25 through 28 and covered a variety of topics that included geology, birds and snowball construction (make 'em round, pack 'em tight). 

Text by Stephen Lyn Bales, photos by Lauren Bird and Jennifer Roder

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring arrives at Ijams, but winter hangs on

Cutleaf toothwort

First day of spring!

Despite this stubborn winter, that just keeps leaving and returning, some of the woodland wildflowers, the early spring ephemerals, are beginning to show themselves at Ijams.

One of the earliest bloomers every year is cutleaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata). Look for it along the trails at the Homesite as well as North Cove Trail and River Trail.

- Text and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Third-graders look for signs of the "Web of Life," find sleeping owl

Is that an owl? Out come the cell phone cameras. 

Today's kids often do not get the chance to spend much time outdoors, in the woods. Many are completely removed from such adventures my generation took for granted.

Often labeled the "Last Child in the Woods" generation because of the widely respected book by Richard Louv of the same name, that's why Ijams is so important. Where else can they go, feel safe and commune with nature?

Taking advantage of the closing days of winter and the soon opening salvo of spring, third graders from Brickey McCloud Elementary came to Ijams this morning for a field trip. Searching for signs of the "Web of Life" and predator/prey relationships, they were not disappointed. A barred owl was found napping above the stream along North Cove Trail. 

What's one difference between this generation and the one that experienced Ijams during the 1970s? This morning's kids quickly whipped out their cell phones and took photos of the sleepy Stix varia.

What? A phone that's also a camera. Who could have imagined that in the 1970s?

-Text and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales 

Napping barred owl above stream. Photo taken with a cell phone.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Good winter for purple finches at Ijams

Male purple finch photographed outside Ijams Visitor Center

To begin with, purple finches (Haemorhous purpureus) are not really purple. The males are more of a mix of pinks and raspberry. But all of that nomenclature aside, they ARE remarkably beautiful.

Purple finches breeding habitat is coniferous and mixed forest in Canada and the northeastern United States, as well as various wooded areas along the U.S. Pacific coast. Members of the American rosefinch family, they are only in the Tennessee Valley in winter but not every year. They are erratic.

That's why this odd here-one-week-gone-the-next winter has been so special. We've had them at the Ijams' feeders off and on for several weeks.

Text and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ijams Rite of Spring: Search for timberdoodles

Peent! Peent...Peent! 

The sound is insect-like and primal. The buzzy "peenting" call of a chunky upland shorebird, a male, his opening salvo of spring and impending, albeit brief, romance. In strict terms of biology: The passing of his genetic material to the next generation, so that other chunky timberdoodles will follow. 

And a rite of spring for Ijams Nature Center: Searching for the aerial displays and raspy calls of American woodcocks hidden in the muddy fields, the sodden grass, at twilight along the Urban Wilderness Trail at Forks-of-the-River. 

Thanks to all who joined us Saturday evening. And thank you, Hannah in the bright pink coat!

Fellow searcher Jason Sturner writes: "A nature-filled weekend in Knoxville: male frogs and toads vocalizing for the ladies; woodcocks in courtship flights beneath the clouds and stars; a gorgeous Fox Sparrow amid a flush of juncos; fresh layers of sun on swelling tree buds; hepatica blooming on a woodland hill; the air an arrived exhalation of the coming spring."

Valarie Johnson (red coat) linked a video.

Text and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales