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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

INUKSUIT by Pulitzer Prize winner Adams performed at Ijams

On Earth Day, Dr. Bliss from the University of Tennessee along with percussionists from around the United States performed INUKSUIT by Pulitzer Prize winning Alaskan composer John Luther Adams. 

Adams gave a brief introduction before the performance. Over 30 musicians were positioned throughout the trails and overlooks of Ijams quarries. An estimated 300 attendees let their ears guide them on their musical journey. Adams won the Pulitzer for his piece Become Ocean in 2014.

An inuksuit (plural) are stones or landmark built by humans. They are found from Alaska to Greenland and are used to guide fisherman, explorers and to herd caribou. 

At Enukso Point on Baffin Island, there are over 100 inuksuit. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1969. For more information, visit INUKSUIT.

- Story and photos by Sabrina DeVault

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ijams red-shouldered hawk nestlings growing video shows

The red-shouldered hawk clutch behind the Visitor Center is thriving. 

Rex McDaniel posted this bit of video three hours ago showing three young ones moving about the nest. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's spring! Everything is fresh and new at Ijams

Spring is the most beautiful time of the year at Ijams. Everywhere you look, there are visual treasures, new life.

Photographer Chuck Cooper spent last Saturday roaming the trails around the Visitor Center, over to the Homesite.

Here are some of the things he saw.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Red-shouldered hawk nestlings hatch near Visitor Center

While we have been busy welcoming spring to the nature center—and after the lingering winter we had it was indeed welcomed—the red-shouldered hawk clutch hatched roughly ten days ago. 

This is the third year the woodland buteos have nested in the wetlands downstream from the homesite pond. And the second year they chose a spot behind the red-tailed tail enclosure, much to the chagrin of the redtail; much too close for her comfort level.

The nest is seeable from North Cove Trail behind the Visitor Center. Our own Rex McDaniel got an excellent bit of video. Watch to the right to see the little white puff-ball nestlings. Two we know, perhaps three. Time will tell.

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Video Rex McDaniel 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Early morning bird walk has fun/goes grebe-less

The recent early Saturday morning Bird Walk was hopefully. Jason Sturner had spotted red-necked and horned grebes along the river at Ijams and Forks of the River a few days before.

Although we found several birds of interest including a raft of blue-winged teal in the distance and both wintering kinglets. No grebes were located.

Both species have been in the news of late because they are rarely seen in our area. But, lakes and waterways farther north are still frozen which has pushed the waterfowl farther south. 

Grebes do not do well on ice or even solid ground. They're poor walkers but great swimmers and divers, so grebes need water.

Despite going grebeless east of Seattle, a good time was had by all.

- Text and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales

Grebe-less view of Tennessee River

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ijams celebrates new summer camp program, Sertoma grant

Ijams Executive Director Paul James accepts a $50,000 check, the first installment of the new grant,  from Randy Reagan of the West Knox Sertoma Club

Last Tuesday, Ijams was thrilled to celebrate a generous donation from the West Knoxville Sertoma Club in support of our Getting Kids Outdoors program. 

Over the next two years, Ijams will receive $100,000 to provide outdoor adventure camps for kids in traditionally under-served communities. As the leading provider of engaging outdoor experiences in the Knoxville area for many years, Ijams has the experience and credibility to make a difference in the lives of children who do not have access to parks. 

These new summer camps will give children ages 8-13 the opportunity to explore, bike, paddle, climb, track wildlife and other nature-related activities that can be life-changing. Through these immersive programs, campers will be better engaged to understand the natural world and their role in conserving it. The camps will be co-hosted by River Sports Outfitters and the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley.

The announcement event also welcomed representatives from some of our community partners, including Randy Reagan (West Knoxville Sertoma Club), The Honorable Judge Tim Irwin (Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley) and Ed McAllister (River Sports Outfitters). 

In addition, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Knoxville City Councilman Finbarr Saunders and Knox County Commissioner Mike Brown offered congratulations and support for this exciting new endeavor.

Ijams Nature Center would also like to thank the following partners for their support of Getting Kids Outdoors: 
Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, Horny Toad Activewear and Pelican International. 

- Story by Jennifer Roder

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett welcomes partners to South Knoxville. With (left to right) Judge Tim Irwin, Amanda Brummerstedt of the Boys and Girls Club of East Tennessee, Ijams Board President Karyn Adams, Ijams Executive Director Paul James, Hope Buttitta of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance and Brian Bane with Pelican International. 

Knoxville City Councilman Finbarr Saunders
The Honorable Judge Tim Irwin representing the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley speaks of the kids these camps will help

Ed McAllister with River Sports Outfitters
Ijams Board President Karyn Adams looks forward to the summer camps

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rain doesn't spoil TN Naturalist wildflower class

The second TN Naturalist class of 2014 was held last week at Ijams.

Ijams educator Peg Beute taught "Ferns, Forbs and Flowers" dodging the off and on rain showers. Good for ferns, forbs and flowers but not necessarily great for teaching outdoor classes. But they made due. 

This is the second year Ijams has been a part of the now statewide series of Tennessee Naturalists classes. After 40 hours of instruction and 40 hours of volunteering, participants will become certified Tennessee naturalists.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ijams Nature Center sadly mourns the passing of Rikki Hall

Ijams Insect WalkAbout. Group leader Rikki, sixth from right. 

Ijams is sad. 

We mourn the passing of our friend Rikki Hall. An editor at the old Hellbender Press, he'd often stop by with a stack, the latest issue for our lobby.

Rikki also led several bug and birding walks for us over the years.

Noted for his broad smile and that tress of dark hair that loved to rebelliously fall down over his forehead, Rikki was one of those remarkable people that took enormous joy in noticing nature's minutia, the little cogs in the master clockwork. The oothecae, the pupae, the pedipalps, the warbler wispings, Rikki noted them all. He was in his element in the middle of an overgrown field for he knew that was reality, everything else is virtual.
Rikki knew the secret: that nature is as vast as it is deep, and always infinitely fascinating, a set of nesting Russian matryoshka dolls with one treasure hidden inside another, inside another. The closer you look, the more that's revealed. He taught me if you look through the binoculars the opposite direction they become magnifiers, a metaphor for Rikki's interest: the infinitesimal, the insignificant, often took on huge importance.

Rikki would stop and point out the smallest spider workings or beetle meanderings, sharing the details of their lives and, in turn, his love for such things that generally go completely overlooked. Rikki's passing should not go overlooked. He cared.

Rikki knew if you look deeply enough, nature simply makes sense, yet in his untimely death that logic flies out the fenêtre.

We quote here from Emerson, "To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same fields, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”

Transcendent Emerson must have known Rikki, one of life's truly descent human beings and attentive eyed naturalist, sadly missed by absolutely everyone who knew him including this former Hellbender writer.

Kim, we all hug you with tears rolling down our faces.

- Remembrance and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales. 

With a visiting group of Russian students. Rikki second from left. 
Insect exploration at Ijams Homesite. Rikki second from left.
Birding WalkAbout on Ten Mile Creek Greenway. Rikki in the middle with co-leader Janet McKnight.