Monday, August 25, 2014


I decided to take a drive out to the newest state park in Tennessee this morning.  The name of this state attraction is Seven Islands State Birding Park and it already has a fantastic reputation and following.  Over 180 species of birds have been documented on this 416 acre preserve and no doubt more will be discovered as time goes on.  The park contains really neat rustic trails that lead to the French Broad River with spurs that guide the hiker through groves of trees and large meadows and fields covered with natural grasses that grow tall and thick, perfect for birds.
This little guy is a Eastern Towhee (Rufous Sided Towhee).  He was perched as you see and was singing his heart out.  He would tilt his little head up and turn his volume up as high as he could.  They are a beautiful little bird with a Grammy award winning voice.

The expectation was to sight and photograph as many song birds as possible but that was not the case.  Oh, there were a couple interesting birds to photograph but the real eye opener was the amazing flower diversity that existed everywhere one would look.  This place is an amazing flower refuge as well as a bird refuge.

The trail lead through a wet land on its way to the French Broad River.  The flower populations were diverse and many.

 I won't act like I know the names of wild flowers but I have come to a conclusion about them.  They are far more beautiful than the domestic variety that are purchased across the counter.  Wild flowers are incredibly intricate and can be startlingly beautiful when discovered .
The flower below is fantastic!  It is fabulous and I think it is the most beautiful flower in this country.  That's saying a lot.  It also is the Tennessee state flower.  It is the passion flower and it is an elegant vision of delight.
 The passion flower is a vine flower and comes with huge round seed pods.  The blooms are shades of dark blue to purple and each bloom contains an enormous amount of delicate detail - intricate perfection.
 These flowers were prolific all over the Seven Islands park.
I'll post some other flowers below.  Again, I don't know all the names but I do intend to work on it over winter.  I often photograph plants that are highlighted in some way that singles out an individual like the simple leaf below.  It is a simple thing but appears abstract in the shot below.

 I've always liked wild flowers framed with rock or wood.

 The bee is  covered with pollen on his back.  Look at the yellow powdery appearance of his back.

The article below could prove dangerous to fast flying birds who are in a hurry to land.

The critter above is one of the strangest critters I've ever seen.  It is a woolly aphid. They can barely be seen moving.  The breeze blows the long tendrils back and forth as the aphid eats its way into oblivion.  The bug has a special gland that produces wax that produces the wispy, white tendrils that slowly undulate in the breeze.  When they want to move to a different area they simply release their grasp on whatever they are attached to and allow the wind to carry them along where it will.  They can control their flight however.  The plant leaves below prove the voraciousness of this critter.
 I'm told that a mixture of soap and water sprayed onto these aphids will kill them and will not harm the plants.  That's a good thing to remember.
There are more shots here than I thought.  Hope I'm not boring you.
 The wet lands border the river and have very dry, neat paths through them.  This park is first class.

 The trail follows along the French Broad River and provides very pristine views of the river.

And then the monster arrived!

 Below, a moon flower has ended its bloom and will soon break off the stem and fall to the ground.  It blooms only once and then the bloom folds in upon itself and dies.
 But, not to feel bad as a brand new, fresh moon flower youngster is growing in the wings and soon will add its color to the green stalk.
I apologize for the limited narrative on this entry but I am really beat and am ready to count sheep.  Hope you liked the birding park.  If you live near you definitely need to visit this place.  It is a wonderful get away.
And finally, a shot from earlier in the week on Douglas Lake: