Category Archives: animals

Biodiversity in the Smoky Mountains amazes the experts…

This is a great, longer article on the species being found in the Smoky Mountains.  There are more species found here, than most other places on earth.  There are a number of species that have been found only in the Smokies.  If you have a couple of minutes, it would be well worth it to spend that time reading the article below.

http://www.audubonmagazine.org/features1007/nationalParks.html

-Raymond

***This post brought to you by www.SmokyMountainTower.com.  The Tower is the best places to stay when you’re in the Smokies.  You’ll love it.***

Learn about the volunteers, who make finding/seeing Elk in the Smoky Mountains even more enjoyable

Another great read below, from the folks over at Knoxnews.com.  This time, they talked to volunteers who are there to help you learn more about the beautiful Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The majority of Elk can be see in the Cataloochee Valley area. That’s where many of the volunteers work, answering questions, giving information and advice on the Elk who are flurishing in the Smokies.  Personally, I’ve never been to Cataloochee (something I’m not proud of :). That is definately high on my to-do list for the Smokies, but as many times as I’ve been to the Smokies, I’ve yet to visit Cataloochee.  It is a more remote area of the park for most visitors.  That’s one reason when the Elk were reintroduced, they were reintroduced to the Cataloochee area.  On a recent trip, back in March, we DID see Elk outside of Cherokee in the park.  They are magnificant.  I highly recommend looking for them when you’re in the area.  Ask where to find them at the visitor centers.  They may be able to point you in the right direction.  Once you get there, one of the many volunteers in the “Bugle Corps” may be able to point out things about the Elk you never would have known.  When I retire, I can see myself moving to the Smokies, and volunteering to do something similar, so I suppose that’s part of why this particular article hit home for me.  Enjoy!

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/jul/17/the-bugles-call/

***Brought to you by www.SmokyMountainTower.com. THE place to stay when you’re staying in the Smokies. I went to Hardees here in Charleston earlier this week, and the smell of coffee and bacon coming from the drive-through window took me back, if only for a moment, to the breakfasts I made early in the morning as  I looked out at the beautiful view of the Smokies at the Smoky Mountain Tower back in March.  You can make those memories too, at www.SmokyMountainTower.com***

What makes the synchronized fireflies flash together? Girls, of course.

This one seems pretty obvious to me.  I have never seen fireflies flash together as the synchronized fireflies do in the Smokies, but I would assume it is related to trying to pick up a date.  That’s exactly what scientists who are studying the behavior are saying as well.  Here’s another great article from the folks over at knoxnews.com.  Check it out!

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/jul/12/experts-shed-light-on-synchronized-fireflies/

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Smokies “Tarantulas”

This is an interesting article, complete with video from knownews.com. A spotlight on the tiny tarantulas that live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  These little fellas live on Spruce Firs.  That’s bad news, since the Spruce Firs are being killed off by the adelgids. Find more at the link below…

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/jul/11/smokies-biologist-surveying-spruce-fir-moss-spider/

***This post, and the GoSmoky blog is brought to you in part by www.SmokyMountainTower.com.  Dave and his daughter Angie are great to work with.  Check them out for your next trip!***

Synchronized fireflies in Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains

The firefly show will be here for 2010 before you know it.  If you’re wondering what I mean by a “firefly show,” it’s a unique show that can only be found 2 places on earth. One is a place in Southeast Asia.  The other is right here in the Smoky Mountains  

These fireflies flash synchronously. They may flash in waves, or flash on and off together, or all go dark at once.  It sounds like an inspiring way to spend an evening.  

Scientists don’t know why or how it happens, but it does.  I suppose this is just another aspect of “Smoky Mountain Magic.”  Since they are only adults for about 3 weeks, this firefly show only lasts for a week or so, usually the 2nd week in June each year.  The show starts at around 9:30PM each night.  The park has a trolley service that allows you to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and ride up to the show in the Elkmont area. 

Believe it or not, these fireflies are just one of 14 different species of fireflies that live in the Smokies.

Here’s a post from my blog last year with a video of what you might see… https://gosmoky.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/catch-a-trolley-to-see-the-fireflies-work-their-light-magic-in-the-smokies/

If you plan to see the show for yourself, below is a list of “Light Show Etiquette” from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website…

Light Show Etiquette
Flashlights disrupt the fireflies and impair people’s night vision. The light show is best when you:

  • Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.
  • Use your flashlight only when walking to your viewing spot.
  • Point your flashlight at the ground.
  • Turn off your flashlight when you find your viewing spot.

You can also help protect the fireflies and their habitat:

  • Do not catch the fireflies.
  • Stay on the trail at all times.
  • Pack out all of your garbage.

Here is the park’s webpage on the fireflies… http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/fireflies.htm

If you like the photo above of the fireflies from last year, you can buy a copy on knoxnews.com… http://www.knoxnews.com/photos/2009/dec/23/74639/

I will post much more on this topic as June approaches…

-Raymond

***This post brought to you by www.SmokyMountainTower.com.  Once you’re finished watching the relaxing show of the fireflies, you will want to relax and get some sleep before another great day in the Smokies.  The best way to do that is by staying at The Smoky Mountain Tower.  Check it out!***

Man suspected of first case of Elk poaching in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

You know, why can’t people just limit their hunting to the more than 3.5 million square miles in the U.S. that are NOT in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?  I suppose for those with bad hunting skills, the urge to kill an Elk that has no fear of humans is just too much. 

TRUST ME, I believe in the right to own a gun.  I believe in all of the rights of the Constitution.  If it weren’t for citizens having guns, we wouldn’t have the other freedoms we have in this country. 

But check out the article below… a man suspected of killing one of the biggest Elks in the Smoky Mountains… It’s really a pity. 

 That Elk would probably have helped increase the herd a number of times throughout the rest of his life. 

http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20091117/NEWS01/911170306/1249

 

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Elk herd increasing in the Smokies

elk

It looks like the Elk in the Smokies are doing quite well.  Out of 19 babies, 16 survived this year.  The herd is now at 110 total.  See the AP story below for more…

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Nineteen elk calves were born this year in the Great Park officials said it’s been one of the best years yet for increasing the herd. There are now about 110 elk in the park, divided about evenly among males and females. Additionally, officials said the bulls this year have impressive antlers, which may mean that there is good forage available for the elk.

Pit Bull attacks full-grown deer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

While I’m a happy, committed carnivore, I don’t like seeing needless killing of anything (with the exception of a bug, like a roach, in my house. [come to think of it, that’s not needless… I have to kill the thing to keep my wife happy.])  ANYHOW… the story below is about a man who brought a 100 pound pit bull into a campground without making sure it was properly leashed.  A full size buck was attacked, and injured to the point that it had to be put down.  There is no excuse for this.  A child could have been in the area as well.  If the dog could do that to a full grown, 130 pound deer, I can only imagine what it could have done to a 40-50 pound (or less) child.  While I’m not someone who believes pit bulls should be banned, there ARE people out there who believe that.  People like this guy only give them more evidence to back up their case.  If you bring ANY dog into the park, please keep it on the leash.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/sep/18/pit-bull-attacks-deer-in-national-park/

***On your next trip to the Smokies, stay where we stay, at www.smokymountaintower.com . We love it!***

Bears go the distance from The Smoky Mountains to find food/territory

Bear Pic by Jeff & Katrina Crutchett of Aurora, IL

This is a nice article about how the increasing population of bears means some of them are leaving the Smoky Mountains for food/territory of their own.  A scary part of the article mentions a bear that recently scratched under a tent while people inside screamed and yelled.  WOW.  I really do like the doors with locks at the place we stay when in the Smokies:)  Check out the article.  It’s well written.

http://www.news-record.com/content/2009/07/18/article/bears_roam_far_from_smokies_in_search_of_food

******** http://www.smokymountaintower.com is the place you can see the house we love in the Smokies.  We’ve basically quit staying anywhere else.  Check it out!********************

What can you find under rocks in the Smoky Mountains? Try it, you might be surprised!

tremontorganism

I found an excellent little article in the e-zine I get from the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont.  On our last trip to the Smokies back in the Spring, I DID pick up some rocks and look closely at what was underneath.  There were interesting looking organisms I’d never seen before.  This article addresses that.  The little “experiment” also made me want to bring some snorkling goggles on my next trip.  I can only imagine what I could see as I picked up the rocks and watched what swam away under the water.  I wanted to post a link to the e-zine, but I couldn’t find it on their website, so I copied it here below…

What Lies Beneath

by Jarrett Beecher, Environmental Education Summer Intern

The river is much more than it appears. It is much more than its surface. What lies beneath is an interconnected community of living and non-living organisms. Campers have discovered this unknown community throughout the summer picking up and flipping over rocks in the Middle Prong of the Little River. To their disbelief and excitement, there are millions of tiny, creepy alien-like critters called Freshwater Macroinvertebrates clinging and crawling about.

These aquatic creatures lack backbones and are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. They come in many different forms such as insects, crustaceans and mollusks. Some common types of macro invertebrates found in the park’s streams are fly larvae such as Mayflies, Stoneflies and Caddisflies. Through the process of metamorphosis, larvae that are adapted to aquatic conditions transform into adult flies with wings that they use to exit the water and fly away in order to mate.

These larvae and other macroinvertebrates play an integral role in the river shed ecosystems of the Smokies. Like the plankton of the oceans, they serve as a major food source for fish, amphibians and birds residing in and around the rivers. Besides an entrée, they are involved in the breakdown and cycling of organic matter. Think of them as the earthworms of the river. They are responsible for decomposing all of the leaves that fall into the river during autumn here in the Smokies. Last, certain types of macroinvertebrates such as Mayflies and Stoneflies larvae that are very sensitive to stress caused by pollution can be used to assess the health of a freshwater environment.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to go out, get wet and flip some rocks. You’ll be surprised by what you find or maybe surprised by what you don’t find. Leave no rock left unturned!

Image: Ecdyonuridae, from Wikimedia commons

Here’s a link to Tremont’s website… http://www.gsmit.org/