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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seniors Outdoors Urban Wilderness Event held at Ijams

 On May 16, the Seniors Outdoors Urban Wilderness Event was held at Mead's Quarry at Ijams. 

There were multiple hikes and nature walkabouts, speakers, kayak and mountain bike demonstrations, plus various exhibitors. A little bit of lingering rain held onto the morning with surprisingly cool temperatures for May but nothing unpleasant, just refreshing. And lunch was provided! The keynote speaker at the luncheon was the locally beloved Dr. Bob Overholt, host of his own (click) The Dr. Bob Show on 10 News 2 and the local PBS station.  

The event also introduced many 50-plusers to the wonderful outdoor greenspaces and trails collectively known as the Knoxville Urban Wilderness: South Loop. 

Special thanks to the event's organizers and sponsors: Tennova, CAC Office on Aging, City of Knoxville, Legacy Parks Foundation, Local 8: WLVT, Happy Hikers and Ijams Nature Center! 

- Story by Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos provided by Douglas Hubbard.

- Thank you, Douglas!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

19th WaterFest was a fun, wet day of education

Paraphrasing Coleridge, "Water, water everywhere, and yes, plenty a drop to drink!"

The 19th annual WaterFest held at Ijams was splashing spectacular! Over 1,100 students and their teachers learned about the importance of water and maintaining good water quality, plus there were a lot of water-centric activities. Splish! Splash!

WaterFest is a free field trip for area students that comes at the end of the school year.

This year's art and poetry contest was themed: "I drink dinosaur water!" The grand prize in art went to 10-year-old Madison Turner from Cedar Bluff Elementary. The grand prize in poetry went to 9-year-old Flora Clapham from Sequoyah Elementary. Their creations appear on the front and back of the 2014 WaterFest t-shirt, given to every student.

Special thanks to WaterFest partners and sponsors: the Water Quality Forum, CAC AmeriCorps, KUB and the East Tennessee Foundation. 

Oh, the watery memories!

- Story and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales

Grand Prize in art: Madison Turner from Cedar Bluff Elementary
Grand Prize in poetry: Flora Clapham from Sequoyah Elementary

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ijams' Urban Wilderness Hiking Club undeterred by rain

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

No we're not talking about postal carries, we're talkng about the Ijams' Urban Wilderness Hiking Club. And yes, last Saturday morning it rained. Not everyone showed but the ones that did had a great, albeit damp time. 

We started in the rain at the Visitor Center and hiked a loop through Forks-of-the-River. And we had our youngest hiker to date: 2-year-old Landon (far left) on his dad's back.

Thanks to all who braved the elements!

Next hike: May has five Saturdays, so we're adding an extra hike this month: Saturday, May 28 at High Ground Park and then back to our regular schedule and the Urban Wilderness on Saturday, June 14 (Flag Day) at 10 a.m.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ijams' Birding & Breakfast Club finds eagles and...oh what a view

It was a most pleasant day for a mid-morning brunch and eagle watch for the Ijams' Birding & Breakfast Club.

We saw several ospreys fishing the lake and heard red-winged blackbirds defending their territories below us.

Perhaps the most memorable sighting was a recently fledged bald eagle perched rather precariously in the top of a tree. Its landing spot was giving it a problem, having not quite caught on to the art of safe landings.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Monday, May 12, 2014

Louisville Zoo volunteer docents visit Ijams

A special thank you to the volunteer docents from the Louisville Zoo. Recently they spent the weekend in the city, visiting Ijams Friday afternoon April 11 and the Knoxville Zoo the following day.

At Ijams they were greeting by education director Jennifer Roder and Dr. Louise Conrad who grew up in Louisville.

Louise showed them a few of our education animals and then the group split up to explore the various trails around Ijams.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wave of yellow warblers passed through nature center

American yellow warbler courtesy of WikiCommons

Mac Post was at Ijams on Wednesday volunteering with school field trips. He noticed multiple American yellow warblers (Setophaga petechia) singing from the trees around the Visitor Center and North Cove Trail.

A wave of the very colorful songbirds must have been passing through on their way north to their breeding grounds.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sixth-graders find barred owl giving them the eye

Today on the Blount County sixth-graders trip to Ijams, two groups got to see a barred owl giving them the eye. 

Those kids are now sold on hiking!

- Text and photo by Ijams volunteer Cindy Moffett

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Photographer Cooper spends a day of big birds at Ijams

Photographer Chuck Cooper recently spent a day of big birds at Ijams.

The first two, a great horned owl and a turkey vulture, were being shown by Ijams' veterinarian Dr. Louise Conrad, part of the Saturday "Creature Features" at the nature center. 

The last was a completely wild-and-free bald eagle flying over the water along the River Trail.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Annual Spring Plant Sale big success, great camaraderie

Don't you just love it when folks get together to talk about plants, maybe buy a few to take home and lovingly put into the ground? And maybe buy a piece of jewelry for their significant other, or an egg roll for their significant self?

We love it too.  And we do it every April.

Ijams 15th annual Spring Native Plant Sale was held last week. Eight local nurseries selling wildflowers, herbs, forbes, shrubs and trees, plus crafts folks with pottery, jewelry, birdhouses, metal works and decorations got together for a beautiful outdoor fair in the plaza. Proceeds benefited Ijams' natural areas and trails.

A special thank you to all who attended and if one photo is worth a thousand words, then here are several thousand allegorical words.

- Story and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales.