Monday, July 17, 2023

Summertime bunnies

I spend a fair bit of time in the company of rabbits, but during the hawking season, they're usually either trying to be invisible or running for their lives. So it was a treat recently to spend an hour or so with Jessa as she photographed young-of-the-year cottontails, one tiny and the others merely quite small.

Unlike the ones I'll see this autumn, these little bunnies were quite at their leisure...

...spending much of their time feeding in a desultory manner, for at this time of the year virtually everything is edible and they don't have to work too hard at it.

Plenty of time, too, for grooming.

Maybe a quick stretch...

...and then a bit of lounging about.

So relax while you can, a choinín...

Stekoa and I will be back in the autumn.

(The starlings and sparrows might want to watch out, too; after a long hiatus, I expect to have a bird hawk as well.)

Friday, July 14, 2023

The ones back home

Well, this trip report dragged out some...but after a week and a bit on the road in Virginia and North Carolina, seeing grey squirrels who are grey, grey squirrels who are (mostly) not grey, and non-grey squirrels who are grey, it was good to get back to our neighbourhood fox squirrels, who are just red.

And black.

Photos by Jessa, as we rolled back into town. 

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Wet and sticky

We last saw Drosera growing in the flat terrain and well-drained sandy soil of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. This situation couldn't have been more different—a rock face in western North Carolina that looks to be more or less permanently wet thanks to a seep a bit higher up—but there we found a small population of sundews.

I'm not qualified to tell one Drosera from another, but apparently D. rotundifolia is the only sundew found in the North Carolina mountains.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Yellowstone Prong

This is not Yellowstone as in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Yellowstone Prong is in the Great Balsam Mountains of western North Carolina, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It flows through a high-altitude valley known as Graveyard Fields, and along with another stream known as Dark Prong it comprises the headwaters of the East Fork of the Pigeon River. 

The name derives, or so I assume, from the colour of some of the rocks found here.

If you're thinking that Yellowstone Prong looks and sounds like a trout stream, you'd be right, and that was a big part of the reason Jessa and I were here. The fish on the upper reaches are small but gorgeous, southern Appalachian brookies at their finest.

I enjoyed the changing character of the prong: sometimes pouring over bare rock, other times across pebbles and cobblestones; now overhung with dense vegetation, then opening up like a Western trout stream. Pretty everywhere.

Brook trout aside, we documented fauna such as slate-coloured juncos and northern water snakes (note that yellow rock again)...

...but the glory of Yellowstone is surely in its flora. Start with a background of mosses and ferns...

Add in a few violets...

...and bluets...

...and soon the rocks themselves seem to come alive.

Then add mountain specialties like galax and painted trillium...

...growing together in the shade of mountain laurel and Catawba rhododendron...

...and you can begin to understand that trout are just an excuse to spend time in the Graveyard Fields.

All photos by Jessica Farrell-Churchill.