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Canadian geese honking and heading south (actually SE) in small V's.


Bolstered by Tom Brown Jr's book Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking, I spent just a quiet day in the woods by the Blue Ridge Parkway section that's near my house. Saw and heard towhees scratching and titmice and chickadees playfully scolding as i walked along, finally stopped to just sit and let the woods 'settle down' from a huge human tromping thru and sat and watched a grey mole run its trails and police its area. I was in a very low underbrush area, mostly Rhododendrons and hearing a curious penetrating bird call unfamiliar to me. Finally he showed, and later identification turned out to be a Kentucky Warbler, rich in yellow underbelly and olive green above, a very showy bird that kept its distance and well hidden in the undergrowth. Showed itself several times probably just out of curiosity. Also heard/watched a grey squirrel work the ground amid the vast amount of freshly fallen leaves - fallen from our brush with hurricane Floyd in which high winds tore off any leaves and dead limbs that weren't firmly rooted to the trees. A presage of fall to come.

I was also looking for a good place to make a blind, or a sweat lodge that's within a few miles of home. It's tough because even though the woods are dense and it would be several miles from Rt 191, the Blue Ridge Parkway can still be heard with people racing up and down... more an annoyance than a detriment.


Hiked a couple of miles of the Shut-In Ridge Trail, all part of the Mountains-to-the-sea trail network. Heard a hoot owl and imitated him so badly he flew off. Got pictures of some skipper-moths, a shield bug, the trailhead, and a few other misc. shots. Saw a good-sized (50 individuals) "V" of Canadian geese go overhead, enough to count. Probably headed for Lake Julian. Broke in some new hiking boots, half boot/half sneaker. Stood for a while watching bumblebees and actually was successful at petting them. If you're too clumsy they raise their middle set of legs as a warning. I don't wanna find out what happens if i'm clumsier than that. It was good practice calming my internal conversation so as not to be threatening to them. Read about that in one of Tom Brown Jr.'s previous books. My favorite bumblebee was one that had a pretty stout tuft of yellow hair on top of his head. Like a mohawk, he looked like a renegade bee. It didn't hurt, i'm sure, that it was a bit chilly out and their movements were somewhat slowed and relaxed.


Hiked along the "Shut-In" trail again, this time continuing where i left off, to be able to describe it for the Hikes section. Hiked the short walk from the Chestnut Cove Gap to Bent Creek Gap.


Today's amusing sight: One of the curious squirrels was sniffing around the drainspout to my neighbors trailer and just had to see what was inside and managed to get his head caught in the drainspout for a few seconds. Funny too to see a manic squirrel-body attached to a long tube.


Stepped outside tonight to hear the hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooowah of a barred owl, being coyly and softly answered by a female. When i cupped my hands and hoo-hooed back, the male stepped up his calling and the female remained quiet for a bit. I let them fall back into their call-and-response rhythm which is hypnotic and beautiful while watching a nearly full moon potter about in the sky.


Intended to drive Julie and i to some photo-spots. It was raining heavily, and got a few shots, noting that the fall color seemed to be starting, if muted. Out on Forest Service road FS## about 2 miles when Daktari got a flat, and after much grumbling to get off one nut that stripped, couldn't get the spare tire on because the jack wouldn't go high enough. Had to dig a 2 inch depression where the tire would go to get it on. Found out that this tire was flat, too. Drove back to the asphalt road with the old tire, clanking on the rim, then re-changed tires to the better flat. Made it to Brevard by 5 o'clock and then home, drenched.


Went out again with Julie (Tires repaired, thanks), and as with any foray with Julie, the focus is on vistas versus plant close-ups. Stayed on the Blue Ridge Parkway because... well, just because. Rained until about 1pm, then began clearing, driving thru patches of fog and openings. Very beautiful. Kept driving towards the end of BRP. Spent some time at Waterrock Knob and many stops along the way. The color this year is starting out oddly, with many colorful areas near the base, as opposed to in the higher elevations. It may be because of the lack of rain, the drier areas starting first.

Also visited the The Pioneer Homestead along the Oconaluftee river.


Rained, spent the day putting up the website. Then making corrections for putting up the website. Then looking it over and deciding it wasn't right, making changes and then putting it up again. I feel like a squirrel in a drainspout. I did get a small drive to the park by the French Broad river, where i gathered a big bag of black walnuts for future use... probably for the local squirrels for winter treats. All part of the gardener attitude, i hope.


Drove Daktari north this time up the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to Route 80. Took a lot of overlook pictures. I'm a fool for them. I take sometimes the same picture every time I pass. The parkway has it's moods and many of them are different, but waaay to many of them are the same. Oh well. It was windy and much cooler than usual. The leaves are changing sporadically. Seems like the best color in full-sized trees is starting on the lower buttresses of the mountains, the lower arms that extend out. Up top, a lot of trees went straight to brown, but there's still much green. I'm thinking this weekend, and even better next will be good times to color-watch. Saw chipmunks, deer, and bunches of goldfinches. It also occurred to me: "Why waste the pictures i take from the parkway?" I figured i'd start a "View of the week." The weekly best shot of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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