Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Dry Falls

On the Cullasaja River west of Highlands, North Carolina, is Dry Falls. Alternate names have included High Falls, Pitcher Falls, and (Upper) Cullasaja Falls.

Jessa spotted this denizen of the falls. I've tentatively put him down as part of the dusky salamander complex (Desmognathus sp.) but can go no further; informed speculation is welcomed in the comments section.

Mountain laurel, in its glory and just past:

Assorted rocks, ferns, etc. (all photos by Jessa):

Monday, July 15, 2019

Bridal Veil Falls

We last posted from Bridal Veil Falls five years ago. We were back recently with Jessa's cousin Kristina, so here are new photos.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


Not great pictures—all I had was my flip phone and an obliging passer-by—but this was a nice largemouth bass, caught on a small nymph tossed close to a rocky shoreline at Holmes Lake.

This was early June. More recent material to follow shortly.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fishing the flood

Ellie and I fished the floodwaters at Holmes Lake here in Lincoln yesterday. It was fun to wet-wade the fishing pier, and as a bonus we had it all to ourselves. The fishing was slow, just one fish each, but mine at least had the charm of novelty: the first walleye I've caught on a fly. It attacked a garishly tinselled woolly bugger variant (Postfly calls it an Olive Leech) and, thanks to the relatively cool water, put up a stout fight.

A toothy critter...

Ellie's one was a pretty black crappie, which I thought went very nicely with her light blue fishing shirt, watch band, and nail polish. A well-coordinated angler, to be sure!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Redear sunfish

Ellie and I were skidding in bluegill after bluegill the other day when this redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus) made an appearance, not far from where we caught a couple last spring.

Redears spend most of their time deep in the water column, where they eat primarily snails and other molluscs, but come shallow to spawn. (At one time I planned to buy or tie some flies to imitate snails, but fortunately redears will take nymphs as well.) Their specialised diet has earned them the nickname "shellcracker" down South, except for Louisiana, where they are "chinquapins".

Friday, May 3, 2019

Bull snake

While out fishing this afternoon, I encountered a good-sized bull snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi). I won't hazard a guess as to length, but I have no problem believing that they can reach 8 feet.

Bull snakes have a well-earned reputation for defensiveness, often mistaken for aggression. This description of bull snake posturing, from Wikipedia, is spot on; today's snake did the whole routine when I got close with my mobile phone, the only camera I had with me:

Owing to its coloration, dorsal pattern, and semikeeled scalation, the bullsnake superficially resembles the western diamondback rattler (Crotalus atrox), which is also common within the same range. The bullsnake capitalizes on this similarity by performing an impressive rattlesnake impression when threatened. First, it hisses, or forcibly exhales through a glottis or extension of the windpipe. The end of the glottis is covered by a piece of cartilage known as the epiglottis which flaps back and forth when air is exhaled from the right lung, producing a convincing rattling sound. It also adopts a rattlesnake-like "S-curve" body posture as though about to strike. It commonly vibrates its tail rapidly in brush or leaves, and flattens its head to resemble the characteristic triangular shape of the rattlesnake. These defensive behaviors are meant to scare away threats, however, and not to sound an attack.

This specimen was on a narrow spit of land between a lake and pond; I'm sure it meant to pillage one or more of the red-winged blackbird nests nearby.

A beauty.

Friday, April 19, 2019

"Good Friday"

This performance is from 2008, but I'm happy to say the Junkies can still bring it. Jessa and I saw them do this one at the City Winery in Atlanta last month. Great show from one of my all-time favourite bands...

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Stickball, 1828

Just a quick link to a CNN story on cave writing, in Cherokee syllabary, by the son of its developer, Sequoyah. The topic? Stickball.



Monday, April 8, 2019

An seabhac

We ended our hawking season right before our trip to Georgia—a bit later than usual, thanks to some late snow—but here are some photos of the hawk (an seabhac in Irish) that Jessa took before we wrapped things up.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Rock Eagle

They don't build 'em like this anymore, either.

Near Eatonton, Georgia is Rock Eagle, the best-known "Indian Mound" in this part of Georgia. There is also a Rock Hawk in the same county (Putnam), and these are considered the only two bird effigy mounds east of the Mississippi River. (There are possibly other effigy mounds in the area, including a Rock Snake, but there is apparently some disagreement on the exact number and configuration of mounds.) Their precise ceremonial purpose is unknown—there is some indication, though little in the way of definitive evidence, that they may have been burial sites—but their very existence and size vouches for an important spiritual significance. The Rock Eagle mound, approximately one to three thousand years old, measures 120 feet from wingtip to wingtip, and 102 feet from head to tail, with its component rocks of quartzite piled eight to ten feet high at the belly.

The observation tower, built by the Civilian Conservations Corps in the 1930s, is interesting in its own right, and with its native-stone and timber construction, made for a good picnic shelter on the quiet weekday of our visit. (Even if some of the tower's denizens did make Jessa a bit nervous.)

Jessa was happy to leave the wasps behind, and we enjoyed photographing wildflowers, herps and actual soaring birds (mostly turkey vultures) outside by the stone effigy.

Apparently the CCC were very serious about using whatever materials were close to hand when working on this project; we saw no fewer than four old millstones used as pavers on the stone path surrounding the eagle mound. "Waste not, want not," I suppose was the mentality...