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The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about what is happening in the natural world in our neighborhood. Birds, blooms, bugs - each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.
August 2012

Clinch Mountain is in southwest Virginia near Tennessee and part of the ridge-and-valley section of the Appalachian Mountains.

From the WMA website:

The area is dominated by mountains rising steeply from narrow valley floors. Due to difference in elevation a unique forest had developed. Tree species from both southern and northern forests are found. Elevations range from 1600 feet to 4700 feet atop Beartown Mountain. There is considerable water on the area; a 330-acre man-made lake, one major stream and several tributaries. The land that forms Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area was virgin forest until the late 1800s. Evidence of the narrow gauge railroad used during logging can still be seen, and some of the old rail bed is now part of the management area's present road system.
Saltville is the closest town and it has an interesting history. Most of it is about salt.
There is a great musuem that boasts a Mastadon skeleton found while mining.
Hobart Smith, an old-time musician, was from Saltville

Come along as we travel the gravel road going up the mountain.
My grandson sure had fun exploring!

There is a 300 acre impoundment lake up top. The dam you see here is maybe 50' down the lower side. Lake levels are quite low right now so the spillway was dry altho there is some flow for the stream running down the mountain. Best part of this lake it that is open for non-motorized boats only.

Didn't see any beavers but they are obviously around.

Flowers
blue lobelia

white boneset - guessing

some I do not recognize

This was all over the meadows

These green buds topped 2' stems that had leaves like a passionflower halfway up. You can see the stream in the background.

Bugs
Some bug on goldenrod. Looks like a firefly but those are not beetle wings.

Skippers on an Ironweed  -- Sachem???

Red-spotted Purple - I took a lot of photographs before getting this one with open wings and in focus.

Silver-spotted Skipper on a clover

And i think this is a leafwing of some sort. The upper body was green and the inner wings orange. When closed, it looked like a leaf and was hard to zoom in.

Trees
Here's a rhododendron still in bloom. I spoted this in a small ravine off the road and climbed up to it for a shot. On the way down I slipped and fell into a batch of stinging neetles along the road just as a ranger went by. Talk about looking stupid - and hurting...

I believe this is an Umbrella Magnolia. I saw lots of magnolias but this was the only one I saw with fruits. It was maybe 100 yds away so that was pushing the limit of my camera.

Sweet birch - limited to this range of mountains and above 3000' elevation.

That's it for this quick trip to Clinch Mt. Virginia. Rainy rainy day here in Tallahassee - All that moisture sucking up from the Gulf is probably pushing all the way to the mountains. So how's things in your neck of the woods?

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Comment Preferences

  •  There was one other butterfly photo (7+ / 0-)

    that I added to comments yesterday for BillyBush weekly butterfly list.
    Too gross to repost but if you must see it -- here

    The modern GOP -- Big noise on the stairs, nothing coming down. 

    by PHScott on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:07:57 AM PDT

  •  That lovely red flower is Oswego-tea... (9+ / 0-)

    also called bee-balm. Very nice tour! Thanks.

    Gooseville is 71 and sunny. Rained last night. The feeders and full of orioles and yellow jackets.

    I love nature, science and my dogs.

    by Polly Syllabic on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:09:56 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful PHScott, thank you. (9+ / 0-)

    Cool and sunny this morning in Chicago, but it's lightning and thundering right now.  We'll see if we actually get any rain.
    Hundreds more blackbirds congregated in my trees this morning to fly south.  There are very few other birds
    around, not even robins, who are always here.  Strange.

    I am a work in progress. Still.

    by broths on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:20:51 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for the photos (7+ / 0-)

    For reasons too complicated to explain, I'm living in a place I do not like, not at all, and long to be back in the Appalachian Mountains.  Your photos bring tears to my Old Redneck eyes for I'll likely never see the mountains again.

    The Clinch River Valley extends about 80 miles between Clinch Mountain and Holston Mountain.  The Valley is divided about evenly between Tennessee and Virginia.

    The Valley and its surrounding mountains are among the most beautiful and most endangered places in the USofA.

    Nestled amid the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia and adjacent northeastern Tennessee lies the Clinch Valley, the nation’s leading hot spot for imperiled aquatic organisms. The Clinch River is the only undammed headwater of the Tennessee River basin, which in turn is the nation’s most biologically diverse drainage system.

    The surface waters of the Clinch run rich indeed: they are home to at least 29 rare mussels and 19 rare fish. Underground, the region’s limestone bedrock is honeycombed by more than a thousand caves and uncounted underground springs and streams. This little-known world is filled with a menagerie of rare beetles, isopods, and other subterranean insects. These underground realms have yielded more than 30 species new to science in just the past few years.

    The Clinch Valley is largely rural and sparsely populated. Most residents make their living directly from the land, either mining coal, harvesting timber, grazing cattle, or planting crops. These rural lifestyles have maintained much of the region in a relatively natural state, and more than two-thirds of the Clinch Valley remains forested.

    But the forested hills mask a history of ecologically unsound land use practices that have degraded the legendary quality of the region’s waterways. Virtually anything released in the valley flows downhill into the streams and rivers. Among the greatest threats to the valley’s extraordinary aquatic life are

    heavy metals leaching from abandoned coal mines,
    sediment eroding from cut-over slopes, and
    nutrients released by streamside-grazing cattle.
    These and other threats have already taken a toll on the region’s extraordinary biological richness. Where once there were 60 kinds of freshwater mussels, only about 40 remain.

    "My Appalachian Mountain Home"

    "My Old Clinch Mountain Home" -- The Carter Family

  •  Was fairly close to your area (5+ / 0-)

    (I'm guessing) a couple of weeks ago in North Carolina.  Lovely part of the world that I have not spent much time in.

    Overcast and raining (as you well know) in Tallahassee.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:47:49 PM PDT

  •  Lovely photos! (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for a soothing respite from the heat of the Front Page/s here.  I could just hear that water rushing down the over the rocks.

    Our family would spend summer vacations from North Florida up to the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah Valley.  I loved the cool mountain air, the rushing waters, and the softly carpeted forest floors with green lichen and moss and ferns every where.   The first time I was above sea-level at an overlook in VA, I knew I didn't belong in Florida.  My heart has always been with mountainous terrain.  (I can see Mt. Tamalpais from my kitchen window.  Never get over the novelty of it!)

    Beautiful photos.  Thanks, PhS!  Looks like you had a delightful vacation!  Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Cool, breezy and sunny here just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.   Nice day.

    Backyard report:   the juvenile oak titmice that was left here by his parents after he fledged now has a mate!  She's so cute and petite.   She seems like a newly minted tweenager, herself.

    The chickadees are back in our yard, finally.   It seems like it's just the three juveniles that were fledged in our backyard.   Happy to see them again.  They're still so sprite and chirpy, hopping from feeder to feeder.   They seem to get more enthused when I come into the yard, as if they still relate me to food showing up!

    Speaking of babies not being afraid of us, the pygmy nuthatches (the acrobatic clowns of the yard) are increasingly more bold in letting us get close to them.   Their parents weren't very afraid of us, but their juveniles are becoming downright friendly.   Today when I went to add bark butter for them in the feeder, two of 'em landed on the feeder, inches from my eyes (and hands), and cheeped at me in such a sweet way.   I wished I'd had some seed in my hand that I could've offered them.   They almost looked like they would eat from my hand, with patient encouragement.  (Maybe some other neighbor is feeding them by hand.)

    Saw another astonishing sight at the Corvid feeders today.   Saw two California towhees  land on a feeder at the same time two juvenile scrub jays were eating there, too!   No problem.  We're all friends here.  Evidently.   After being bullied, badgered and attacked all summer by these jays' parents, the towhees are now relaxed and enjoying life in our backyard again.  It's nice to see.  We really like the towhees.   And I'm very interested in studying Corvid behavior.

    My only problem now is the rock pigeons.   Ugh.  More all the time.   I've had to cut back on the feeders for the finches and songbirds because the pigeons are landing on them (with some acrobatics required) and eating the food.   Ick.   They're messy and disgusting.

    So poor lil' finches.   They're getting their deluxe feeding situation cut back.  I'm using only finch-socks feeders right now.   But dammit, saw a pigeon trying to hold onto one of those, too!

    However, I have the feeling that it's a good thing to start weaning the little birds off these feeders while the weather is still warm and pleasant.   Maybe they need to migrate on.   Or to teach their fledges and juveniles how to eat in the wild.   They've been at our feeders all day every day for months now.

    No new bird sightings in my yard.   But there hardly ever are.  I just have the same flock all the time.  Or they leave and come back.   I'm envious of all the variety of species that other Backyard Science members report seeing, regularly.   :)

    •  yeppers SP - you're becoming a regular (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Polly Syllabic, sockpuppet, bwren

      a regular St Francis  :)

      The modern GOP -- Big noise on the stairs, nothing coming down. 

      by PHScott on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:50:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Looks like a Bucket to me, sockpuppet. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Polly Syllabic, PHScott, sockpuppet

      Have I told you how much I enjoy your observations?

      Nice to see you.

      I came for the politics and stayed for the science.

      by bwren on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:05:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, bwren! That means a lot. :) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Polly Syllabic, PHScott

        I'm sincere when I say I really don't think I have anything interesting to write about.   I'm somewhat intimidated here in this group, because the photos taken so casually, and then posted here, are so excellent.  And the locations, the visuals, the variety of natural elements described and reported on, these all blow my little backyard jottings outta the water.  (I often think of that photo you posted of all the goldfinches on the feeder in your backyard.  WOW.  Amazing shot!)

        So I appreciate the encouragement to keep trying.  I'm always surprised when folks say they enjoy my virtual excursions through my backyard.   I'm glad to hear that, because I'm often so delighted and in awe of the flora and fauna just in my own back yard.   I do enjoy trying to convey some of that delight to others who are also interested in "backyard science".  (Although when I first started posting here, I didn't really know the precise names of the birds I was observing.  "Sparrows.  Jays.  Chickadees."  Now I try to be more precise with "Scrub Jay" and "California Towhee", and "Chestnut-backed Chickadee". ;)

        Anyway, be careful what you ask for!   Maybe you all won't be able to shut me up, once I really get started chatting on about all the critters gracing our yard with their presences!  ;)

        Thanks again, bwren, for taking a moment to say those kind things.   I think of you every time I see our little resident B-wren family scurrying surreptitiously around the yard!  Ms. Bwren!

  •  Late report from Seattle- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PHScott, Polly Syllabic, foresterbob

    and not much. We're back to 57 in the morning and 78 by dinnertime, which means carrying layers everywhere. The heat left around 3am Saturday morning, with a wind that made the fans whine, clouds moving in and a quick +/-15 degree drop in temperature. We're all much happier now.

    There's a Bewick's Wren out back who has been babbling on and on since it cooled off, little fragments of song that he repeats over and over and over, with teeny variations each time. Sometimes he just loses it and reverts to what I think of as the practicing Bewick's Wren's default "oh crap, that's not right!": bzzzzzttttt! bbbbszzzzzzztttt! bbbszzzzzzztttt!

    I came for the politics and stayed for the science.

    by bwren on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:25:59 PM PDT

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