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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ijams Hiking Club explores Burnett Ridge and the Crag

Ijams Hiking Club at the Crag

In early February, the Ijams Hiking Club explored another portion of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness South Loop network of trails. 

This time it was the Burnett Ridge and Imery's Trail that go up and over the ridge and wrap around the western most quarry pit of Ross Marble. 

This pit is filled with waste lime, leftover from the quicklime operation that happened in the area decades ago. Consequently, it is now filled with Eastern red cedars, a local species that only grows in alkaline or sweet soil. You simply do not find them in the acid-rich soils of the Great Smokies. 

The group also visited the Crag. 

The congenial hiking club meets the first Saturday of every month. Join us! To register for the March 7 gathering call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110. 

On Imery's Trail
Quarry pit with discarded lime and cedars

Friday, February 27, 2015

Some ice and snow remain, but Ijams is open again

Four ice and/or snow storms in a row left our parking lots pummeled, park frozen and doors closed but we are open again. Be careful on the trails, but enjoy your visit.

It is rumoured that spring is on the way. (Pass it on.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Frozen: ice storm coats nature center, Visitor Center closed

Wiki:media commons
Last night's ice storm has turned the nature center into a frozen wonderland. The roads and parking lot are icy, so be careful. Although the grounds are open, the Visitor Center will be closed today through Thursday, perhaps longer since more snow and freezing rain may be on its way. Time will tell.

Rumor has it that a fearless princess named Sammi, who had been away in the warm land of Mardi Gras, has now set off on an epic journey alongside a rugged iceman named Kris, his loyal pet reindeer and a naive snowman to find her estranged sister, whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped Ijams in eternal winter. Once found, the ice will melt and the Visitor Center will reopen. 

Until then, while you're iced in at home it is suggested you watch the movie Frozen with your family and "Let it Go, Let it Go." - Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Update: first Red-headed woodpecker at Ijams

Juvenile red-headed woodpecker. Photo by Jason Dykes

Jason Dykes visited Ijams last weekend and managed to get the best photo yet of the juvenile red-headed woodpecker hanging around the parking lot at the Visitor Center.

Adult red-headed woodpecker. Photo: wiki commons.
At Ijams we are always in search of the teachable moment: Note that juvenile birds do not look like adult birds, so identification can be tricky.

The Ijams' bird is maturing (see Jason's photo above), the adult red feathers on the head are starting to grow. In a few weeks the entire head will be red, the upper back will be black and the lower back—made up of the secondary wing feathers—will be white, creating a very striking adult bird. (See photo at left.)

This is the first ever red-headed woodpecker documented at Ijams. Woo-hoo. 

Here's hoping our bird hangs around awhile so we can witness the transformation. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Local Wolf Pack goes on a wintertime hike at Ijams

Last weekend, Ijams welcomed Boy Scout Wolf Pack 154 from Powell for a wintertime nature hike. We walked around the park taking the River Trail to Toll Creek and then onto Mead's Quarry Lake all the while looking for interesting plants, animals and geological formations. 

Ijams has been hosting scouting activities for over 90 years. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Friday, February 6, 2015

Uncommon birds still can be found around Visitor Center

There has been some good winter birds of note recently at Ijams. And you really do not have to walk that far to find them. 

In addition to the juvenile red-headed woodpecker that's been hanging around the parking lot, last weekend in front of the Visitor Center we had a purple finch and a pine siskin. (There's got to be more. They never travel alone.)

Chuck Cooper managed to photograph the magnificent raspberry-colored finch with blooming witch hazel in the background.

While Jason Dykes located the young red-headed.

Thanks, Chuck and Jason!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Local groundhogs visit Ijams, predict winter's end, or not

Lynne McCoy with Hobo, TV reporter Emily Stroud and educator Peg Beute

Forget about Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania is practically in another country.  We could call it North-America but that name has already been taken.

On Monday, February 2, Groundhog Day was celebrated at Ijams with TWO of the plump prognosticating rodents.  And two is better than one. 

Senior naturalist Peg Beute served as the event's host and local animal rehabilitator Lynne McCoy, brought “Pockets” and “Hobo,” two rescued groundhogs she cares for. 

Did they see their shadows? Well, yes and no. It was cloudy in the morning and cleared late in the day. So there will be six more weeks of winter or there won't be six more weeks of winter. 

Weather crystal-balling is such a tricky business, WBIR Channel 10 covered it live.

For Live@5@4 Emily Stroud's report click: Groundhogs@Ijams

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos, Jennifer Roder, Sammi Stoklosa. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ijams Seed Swap draws over 200 people, lots of gardening talk

"However many years she lived, Mary always felt that she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow," wrote Frances Hodgson Burnett in The Secret Garden.

Winter. It's cold. It’s dreary. But, we all know, spring is on the way.

Traditionally, this is the time of the year to look forward to better weather and start planning your garden. Whether it’s a backyard plot or a container on your downtown balcony, just what are you going to plant this year?

There was a time when you didn’t buy seeds, you traded for them.

Ijams held its first Seed Swap in 1995. This past Saturday marked its 20th anniversary. Over 200 people—Ijams members, friends and visitors—came together and brought their favorite seeds, cuttings or bulbs to share with others. Plus there was a lot of gardening talk and hints of spring fever.

- Peg Beute, Stephen Lyn Bales