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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Cooper spots bald eagle from Ijams boardwalk

Bald eagle. Photo by Chuck Cooper

To be a truly great wildlife photographer, it helps if you have an expensive camera and lens. But, the one thing that is paramount in your toolbox, the one thing you have to have is patience. Patience with a capital "P."

Photographer Chuck Cooper often visits Ijams on the weekends and spends time in and around the Visitor Center. He also slowly walks the trails. 

Last Saturday, he was on the boardwalk overlooking the Tennessee River, when he spotted the above bald eagle across the water on the opposite shoreline. Chuck quickly snapped a few photos, then he settled in to wait. He was hoping that when the eagle flew it would fly towards him and maybe even swoop down to catch a fish.

The regal raptor stayed perched for over a hour. Chuck waited. Any wildlife photographer needs to be able to play the waiting game with fingers crossed. 

Alas, this time the eagle chose to fly the opposite direction and that great eagle-in-action-shot he was dreaming about will have to wait.

Thanks, Chuck. Ijams appreciates all you do!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Friday, August 28, 2015

Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival at Ijams was best yet

By Vickie Henderson

Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration is in full swing in Tennessee making this an exciting time of year for hummingbird lovers! And a perfect time to have a festival in their honor.

Photo by Jody Stone

Last Saturday, August 22, the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society and Ijams hosted their fifth annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival in Knoxville and the people attending were enthusiastic and eager to enjoy the many nature activities offered by the festival.

Organized by talented KTOS member, Billie Cantwell, the event attracted more than 1300 visitors who enjoyed hummingbird banding, nature walks, wildlife demonstrations, expert speakers, food, arts and crafts vendors and exciting children's activities!

Photo by Tom Howe
The popular highlight of the event is the hummingbird banding demonstrations offered by Mark Armstrong, Master Bander of hummingbirds and songbirds.

Photo by Susan Baumgardner
Mark Armstrong examines a hummingbird. Photo by Jody Stone

Volunteer Andy Troutman removes a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird from one of the bander's traps. Hummingbirds enter the trap to access the feeder and a door is lowered with an attached line. 
Photo by Susan Baumgardner.
Once removed from the trap, the hummer is placed in a mesh bag and transported to the bander.  
Photo by Jody Stone  

Mark first checks the hummers legs to be sure there is no current band. He then secures a numbered band around its leg and examines the hummer for age, sex and health. Measurements are recorded for the tail and beak and the belly is checked for fat to help determine overall health. If the individual is a juvenile male, he also records the number of red feathers on the throat. Photo by Susan Baumgardner.

Armstrong attaches a numbered band to a hummingbird's leg. The small stocking covers the hummers head and helps to keep it calm. Watch the video below to see banding in progress. Photo by Jody Stone.

Patty Ford gives visitors a close look at a hummingbird before release and below, she gently places a hummingbird in a child's hand for the release. 
Photo by Susan Baumgarder.

The banding station banded 28 hummingbirds and had one male re-capture that was originally banded at the festival three years ago. The average life-span of a male hummingbird is 1.4 years and the oldest recorded male hummingbird was five years old. Our re-captured bird is doing well! Photo by Jody Stone. 

The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird shown above is molting feathers, meaning the old worn ones are falling out and being replaced with new ones. Tiny white tubules, that become the feather's shaft, hold the feathers as they grow. Molting during migration is a sign of health, according to Master Bander, Mark Armstrong. It means the hummingbird has enough energy reserves, or fat stored, for both migration and healthy growth.
Photo by Vickie Henderson. 

Thank you, Billie!

For more information or history of the festival go to: Vickie Henderson Art 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ijams celebrated the glory of August with Cicada-Tomat-Uh

Swamp cicada

Cicada-Tomat-Uh! Oh, yeah! 

After spending three years underground, the cicadas, a.k.a. jar flies, are out and about. What better thing to celebrate on a Sunday afternoon in August? And what better food than tomato sandwiches?

Indoors, we sipped “green cicada juice” a.k.a. lemonade and enjoyed fresh tomato sandwiches—Sunbeam bread with Duke's mayonnaise. (It was B.Y.O.B. Bring your own bologna.) We learned the different species of local cicada and each of their unique buzzy calls that are produced by vibrating their abdomens. 

Then we went on a great cicada and bug round-up.

Many thanks to all who attended. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Perfect South Knoxville cuisine for August
Cicada/bug hunters 

Wrafe holding a cicada and a molted cicada exuvia, the remains of its final larval exoskeleton 
And, as a bonus, a captured praying mantis
Thank you, Jason and Charlotte for donating a case of local tomatoes.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Nature Day Campers were 'Heroes of the Halfshell' Ninjas

Cowabunga dude! During Heroes on the Halfshell week (Grades K-2) we hosted 20 little ninjas and they learned about their reptilian cousins in the wild and even got to meet Raphael, an actual Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for a little martial arts training. 

The little ninjas also got to decorate turtleback sugar cookies. 

It was turtle-y awesome!

- Special thanks to Premier Martial Arts of Knoxville for the ninja training

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Camp: All good things must come to an end

With a sigh...we know that all good things must come to an end. Such is the case the the 2015 edition of Ijams' Summer Camps. Eight weeks with roughly 60 kids a week.

Last Friday we working in one last camp for the Boys & Girls Clubs from Northridge Crossing and Montgomery Village.

The campers got to paddle around the quarry lake and go on a hike. I caught up with them for an insect hunting workshop with sweep nets in the meadow.

All great fun! See you next year kids!

- Photos and text by Stephen Lyn Bales 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Nature Day Campers as world explorers got to visit a rainforest

Our summer campers traveled around the world during World Explorers week. (2nd through 4th graders.) Through food, crafts and other fun activities we learned about cultures and ecosystems around the world. 

We even got to explore the “rainforest” in Sevierville!