Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sunset in East Tennessee and other stuff.

When I first started this blog, my friends Tom and Meg both wrote to me and said "include pictures". So now, for every blog entry I include a picture or two. I haven't had any blog entries for a couple of weeks because I didn't have any good pictures to post.

I still don't, but I decided to post an entry anyway. This picture is a view of a sunset within the last week with our roses in the foreground. It is kind of dark, but that is the nature of this sunset. It is not much, but it is all I have at the present time. Even so, you have to love those dark, dark, reds of the sunset. If you lived in the west and saw this you would call the fire department.

I have been in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park 3 times in the last 3 weeks, but I didn't have the camera. In the Cades Cove area of the Park Nancy and I saw 4 bears in the tall wild Cherry trees fattening up on cherries for the winter. (By the way, did you know that in the Smoky Mountains that 80% of the bears hibernate in standing hollow trees, as high up as 80 feet.) I have been trout fishing twice and caught lots of small ones and a couple of nice Rainbows, but again no camera. (Another factoid....trout are not stocked in the GSMNP; all of the trout there are wild.)

We are going to the the Smokys for two days to stay at a lodge at Mount Le Conte (6,593 feet elevation...I know is not Colorado high but it is very high for the east) and we will take a camera this time. Hopefully we will get a few nice photos.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Traffic jam at the feeding station.

During most of the summer we have had one or two Ruby Throated Hummingbirds at our feeder. But several weeks ago that all changed. There are now Hummingbirds at the two feeders constantly and, as you can see from the photo, sometimes there is a waiting line for an open spot. We think that the reason for the big increase in birds is that the babies have hatched and now there are many more Hummingbirds around. Neighbors and friends with feeders have seen the same increase.

We have two identical feeders off the deck about 10 feet apart. For some reason most of the Hummingbirds prefer the one to the right. When they agree to cooperate, that feeder often has 5 or 6 birds feeding at one time.

The other feeder often has just one short fat male sitting on the feeder railing by himself. He aggressively chases everyone else away from "his" feeder.

One interesting event happened a couple of days ago. A neighbor called to say that a Hummingbird was in his garage and couldn't find her way out even though all 3 garage doors and the walk-in door were open. The bird stayed near the ceiling and wouldn't drop down to find a door. By the time we walked down to their house, Ron had herded the bird into a corner where she had nowhere to land, and when she tired from flying he caught her by hand. He carried the bird outside and laid her on a leaf on a shrub. The Hummingbird just lay there for about 10 minutes looking around and blinking but not trying to fly. Then, once she caught her breath and regained some energy she flew off into a high tree. She can now tell her friends about the giant human monsters that saved her life.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Various sightings

 Posted by PicasaI was just thinking recently about some to the wildlife sightings that we have seen here on the Cumberland Plateau in eastern Tennessee since we moved here last October.

When you consider the list you might think that we live isolated, out in the countryside. But Fairfield Glade is a pretty fair sized community with stores, restaurants, offices, and a population that I think I heard is approximately 6,500. However, we are surrounded by forest and bordered by the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area (similar to a "State Game Lands" in Pennsylvania). Wildlife is everywhere.

We have the regular assortment of animals that might live in most communities in many states such as raccoons, squirrels, groundhogs, hummingbirds, finches, garter snakes, toads, etc. But we also have an assortment of birds, reptiles, and mammals that would be very rare in many suburban communities.

Here is a list of a few of the wild things that Nancy or I have seen and then 4 animals that we are still looking for.

We have seen Pileated Woodpeckers (photo above) on the Hickory tree in our backyard, Downey, Hairy, Red-bellied, and Red-headed woodpeckers, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Cooper Hawks, many, many Gold Finches, Tufted Titmice, and many other, new to us, birdfeeder kinda birds.

We have heard from our back deck, Barred Owls, Screech Owls, and Great-Horned Owls. We see Wild Turkey several times each week.

There are several kinds of lizards that I haven't yet identified in the yard.

I have seen (mostly dead on the road) Copperhead, Blacksnake, Corn Snake, Water snake, Blue Racer. I have seen several (some very large) Snapping Turtles in streams and ponds and 6 or 7, at last count, Box Turtles.

Nancy and I have seen both Red and Grey Fox and 2 Coyotes. We hear the coyotes howling at night or in the early morning regularly. Just last week I saw a Bobcat chasing a Grey Squirrel up a dead pine tree (the squirrel got away). I saw a Mink working its way up a small stream near the golf course a couple of weeks ago.

We haven't yet seen one, but I have talked to others in the area who have seen the Wild Boars that roam nearby and root up the golf courses from time to time. Also, I am still looking for Otters, Fishers, and Rattlesnakes that are around. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has re-established an Elk herd in the next county over and about once a year someone claims to spot a Black Bear in our county.

If you like wildlife, this is the place.