Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fairfield Glade Hiking Club

Here are 4 pictures from the Fairfield Glade Hiking Club trip last Friday to the Savage Gulf, State Natural Area. The bridge was one of those swinging kind that you always see the bad guys chopping at in the jungle movies.

The stone cliff is typical Tennessee landscape, especially on the Cumberland Plateau. Near this location was the "Stone Door", which is a crack in the rock that allows you to walk through to the bottom of the cliff, 154 steps down.

This is one of the three waterfalls that we hiked to on Friday. Nearly all of the Hiking Club hikes go to a waterfall. I am not sure what hiking clubs do in other states, but we usually have a destination with a nice waterfall vista.

And finally, here is Nancy by a different waterfall. There were 28 people on this hike. The total mileage was about 6 or 7 miles

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mountain Laurel

The Mountain Laurel is in full bloom on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee and in our backyard. Nancy took this photo in our yard just beside the Bluebird box.

Good news....the Bluebird babies hatched two days ago and the male and female are very busy flying back and forth to the nest supplying insects to the kiddos. It is a good thing that the pole supporting the nextbox has a predator guard because the other two bird feeder poles in the yard have muddy raccoon prints all the way to the top to get the birdseed. The other night Nancy woke me up at 2am to listen to a raccoon fight in the backyard. It was very loud growling, snarling and screeming. We turned the spotlights on but the raccoons got into the woods before we could see them.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Spiders and Snakes...and Turkeys

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of spiders and snakes...yet. But here are two recent encounters. First, when picking up trash at a trailhead last week Nancy tried to put a Black Widow spider in the garbage bag I was holding. The beautiful shiny, patent leather black, spider was clinging to a piece of metal that Nancy was holding. There was a perfect red hour-glass shape on the underside of the abdomen. I took the spider home and tried to get a picture, but my camera doesn't focus close enough to get a good picture of something so small. The spider body was about the size of a pea.

A lot of people seem to be concerned about Brown Recluse spiders these days, but Black Widows are probably more common than you might think and their bite is supposedly very painful and can be very dangerous. Their web is cottony and messy and there should be no mistaking the shiny black female spider with the red hour-glass underneath. The males look much different and are not poisonous.

As for snakes, one of our hiking buddies called me a few days ago saying that he just encountered a Copperhead in his yard. He was mowing and came within a few feet of the snake stretched out on the one sunny spot in the yard. He confirmed the identification with several other people. I am still turning over logs and rocks looking for my first Copperhead or Rattlesnake in this area.

I do have a picture of a friendlier outdoor subject. This morning at 6:15am I looked out my front window and saw 2 Wild Turkeys in the yard. We see turkey regularly but only saw them in the yard once before. I had just a few seconds to grab the camera and snap a picture of this one through the blinds before he stepped into the trees in the lot next door.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Latest Bluebird update

Here is a picture of the female and the male Bluebird. When we put mealworms on the railing of the deck the male usually gets to them first. But often he puts 5 or 6 mealworms in his beak crossways and then the female lands and begs and he feeds the mealworms to her. Nice guy!

Here is the female sitting on the nest. Yesterday I opened the nest box to check on it and the female didn't fly. There are 5 eggs. Today when I approached the box the female flew out and both the male and the female dive bombed me while I was near the nest. They zoomed past my head and made a clicking sound as they just missed me. That wasn't very nice to their mealworm supplier.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bluebirds back at it

The image isn't crystal clear, but I was shooting through the bedroom window. Yes, that is a male Bluebird sitting on the railing of our deck trying to decide if he really wants those raisins and dried cranberries for dessert. He just finished the main course of 6 mealworms that I put there for him.

But the good news is that the Bluebird pair is back at it again after an unsuccessful first nest. As explained in an earlier post, I think a snake got the first batch of eggs and the Bluebirds gave up in frustration. But after starting over they built a new nest and now have 5 eggs in it. I had a cut off milk jug for a predator guard, but I just built a more substantial one out of sheet metal that should also keep out raccoons.

And just to show that there are raccoons in the yard, here is a picture of raccoon tracks from the front yard two days ago.

Keep your fingers crossed for the Bluebirds. It is a hard world out there