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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

First of the Hobbit Days celebrated at Ijams

Ijams Nature Center celebrated the release of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” last Saturday. 

Hobbits, elves and wizards alike found something fun at this Hobbit-themed event. They made cloak pins, Hobbit ears, Hobbit door pendants and even decorated their own furry feet cookies (sounds gross, tastes great!). All this Middle Earth fun and they didn't even need to travel to the Lonely Mountain!

- Jennifer Roder, Sabrina DeVault, Stephen Lyn Bales


Dr. Louise holds Gandalf and, yes, that's his real name!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Scrawny dog? No, make that a coyote spotted near Ijams

South Knoxville coyote. Not great photo quality but I shot it with my cell phone out the car window.
(I did manage to park the car first.) 

Driving to Ijams is always a joy for naturalists. With over 300 acres, you never know what you'll see or hear. 

Last Thursday, a flock of sandhill cranes flew past. Beavers, even otters, are sometimes seen in the river, both red and gray foxes are present and the birdlife varies with the season.

Two weeks ago, I saw something I had never seen. On my way to work just after crossing Chapman Highway on East Moody—the major in and out of the business district since repairs are being made to the Henley Street Bridge—there it stood; bold as brie.

At first glance, I thought I'd spotted a skittish, scrawny dog watching traffic from a hillside, yet, in a flash, I realized it was NO DOG. There was a coyote (Canis latrans) a scant two miles from downtown Knoxville, south of the river, during the noon hour, a brazen assault on my world view. Wow. (I think we all need flexible world views, don't you?)

Karyn Adams, president of the Ijams board, has seen one in that general area as well.

First a wily coyote, is a roadrunner too much to hope for?

Beep!  Beep!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday shopping tip: Adopt an Animal at Ijams

Dr. Louise Conrad is in charge of all animal care at Ijams including the great horned owl

Turkey Vulture
Here's an idea for a gift for someone that has everything and needs nothing. Adopt one of the education animals at Ijams for a year. 

No, the animal doesn't come home with you, although having supper with a turkey vulture would be most entertaining. She's a very fastidious eater; always cleans her  carcass. 

What you do provide are the funds for veterinary care and food for an animal for a year. Prices vary. Care for a darter is less than care for a great horned owl. Our albino box turtle eats less than the red-tailed hawk. And, although it's the larger of the two, our mudpuppy eats less than the screech-owl, as does the painted turtle. Oh, the advantages of being cold-blooded.

Albino box turtle
Adopters get a certificate. And when they visit Ijams the satisfaction of knowing they have helped care for a captive animal. 

For more information call Sarah at (865) 577-4717, ext. 124.

- Stephen Lyn Bales 

Painted turtle

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ijams TN Naturalists end 2013 schedule after 16 classes

2013 TN Naturalists class on last outing with Mead's Quarry Lake in background

The Tennessee Naturalist Program at Ijams is an ongoing series that introduces participants to the wonder of the state’s amazing natural resources. A total of 16 sessions, each either two, three or four hours long, were held in 2013. 

Sessions were taught by the Ijams education staff: Jennifer Roder, Peg Beute, Dr. Louise Conrad, Sabrina DeVault and Stephen Lyn Bales. By the end of the 16 classes and required volunteer hours,  the attendees will be Certified Tennessee Naturalists. 

For a look back at a couple of the classes taught in warmer weather click: Jen or Peg

For information or to enrollment for 2014 classes call Jen at (865) 577-4717, ext. 130.

For more information about the statewide Tennessee Naturalist Program, visit our website at Ijams TN Naturalists. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sandhill cranes spotted flying over Ijams this morning

NEWS FLASH: A flock of at least 19 sandhill cranes flew over Ijams within the hour: 9 a.m.

Dr. Louise Conrad and I first heard their distinctive bugling calls and then spotted them, circling, gaining altitude east of the nature center before they continued their migration south perhaps to Hiwassee Wildlife Management Area.

Luckily, we heard no shots since the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission recently passed (much to the chagrin of 88 percent of the state's respondents) a limited hunting season on the beautiful birds.

"Commission members allowed the sandhill crane hunt despite massive opposition from Tennesseans who answered polls -- and attended the commission's two-day meeting in Knoxville," reported Louie Brogdon in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "The commission received more than 1,000 responses from the public about the crane hunt; 888 opposed it."

Here's a thought: With so many European starlings out there, millions of them, pests, nesting in dryer vents and newspaper boxes, destructive to other species, who needs another bird to shoot? And besides hitting a starling is a better display of marksmanship than shooting a four-and-a-half foot tall crane that doesn't choose a mate and start raising a family until it's five years old.

In January, Ijams often leads a carpool outing 
to Hiwassee to see the gathered cranes. Watch our website for details.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday on-line auction benefits both CTV and Ijams

Just in time for the holidays! CTV-Knoxville: Community Television Knoxville is hosting an on-line Holiday Gift Auction that ends this Saturday. Proceeds from the event go to both CTV and Ijams, two Community Shares agencies. 

To shop and bid click: Holiday Gift Auction.

CTV does great work, giving people and groups a voice and access to the public airways. Plus, gavel to gavel coverage of local government meetings. Stay informed, watch CTV! Check it out: CTV.

Watch this Saturday, Ijams' own Peg Beute live on air, noon until 2 p.m. And, bid and bid often.

- Stephen Lyn Bales  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pirates gather to celebrate a birthday at Ijams

Ahoy Matey! There was a plethora of pirate pups recently at Ijams. Well, actually it was a pirate themed birthday party. 

This time, Lilah (darling one middle back row) celebrated her eight birthday with a gathering of pirates. Aaaagh!

Ijams hosts over 100 birthday parties a year and although the theme may be whimsical, the nature lessons we teach are real. Generally we show a few live education animals and then go outside looking for tadpoles or salamanders or whatever happens to crawl out from under a log.

For more information about a birthday party at Ijams in 2014 call Sabrina at (865) 577-4717, ext. 116. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Discovery Trail barred owl makes another appearance

Barred owl on Discovery Trail. 

Ijams visitor Bill Hahnemann emails, "This guy (gal?) is probably a local park celebrity and by it's stoic behavior, accustomed to human traffic along the trail, but I just thought I would let you know it gave me quite a surprise on my walk through the park on Monday afternoon.  What a beautiful creature and what a moment it was to be in its presence.  I love Ijams!"

Although the great blue heron is the icon we use on our logo, perhaps we should consider the barred owl instead. They are so often seen by visitors, it's almost like they're on staff.

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photo by Bill Hahnemann

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Eagle Scout project restores Ijams' Plaza Pond

Eagle Scout Clifford Stallworth

Ijams would like to thank Eagle Scout Clifford Stallworth.

For his Eagle Scout Service Project, Stallworth of Troop-6 Boy Scouts of America, Knoxville, raised funds to rent a $250 pump to remove silt from the Plaza Pond in front of the Ijams' Visitor Center.

Stowers Equipment rental Company donated the $200 rental of intake and discharge hose for the project. 

They deepened the pond and removed vegetation to maintain the site as a viable pond and keeping it from evolving into a plant-filled swamp. 

Local scouts—first the Girl then the Boy Scouts—began coming to Ijams to fulfill their badge requirements in 1923. That's 90 years ago!

- Story by Ed Yost. Photos by Alan Easley and Stephen Lyn Bales

Troop 6 and volunteers

And a week and replenishing rain later, a pond reborn!