Welcome to the Blue Wall Weekly, your source for what's going on outside along the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Feel free to share your own photos, videos, and adventures along the Blue Wall, and we'll do our best to make you (locally) famous!
Our daily walk includes a pretty stretch of unpaved country road along the edge of an upper piedmont ridge. To the south, rains have carved nearly vertical gullies into the hillside; to the north, an old rolling pasture follows the wide bend of road and slopes gradually down to Jocassee. Grasses and wildflowers and blackberry canes grow undisturbed along the roadside. The simple beauty of this pastoral scene is not blemished by glass bottles that once held cheap beer, or old green soda bottles half-buried under grass, or styrofoam plates captured in tangles of honeysuckle vine, because yesterday I finally picked up all that crap. Now I can walk in peace, and stop saying “One of these days I’m gonna…” ~K
Two historic buildings are located on the grounds of Oconee Station State Historic Site. The oldest is a stone blockhouse that was built in 1792. It is all that remains of a military outpost that was built during a period of tension between the white settlers and the Indians. The brick house at Oconee Station was built in 1805 and served as the residence of a merchant who ran a trading post on the site.
Join some knowledgeable local astronomers at Chattooga Belle Farm for some superb viewing of the planets, constellations, satellites, and perhaps the Int’l Space Station. Binoculars and telescopes and a headlamp or flashlight are highly recommended, and a chair and blanket might be necessary.
Singular snowflake. Photo by Tricia Kyzer
This Canadian goose found a hidey-hole on Lake Jocassee!
COLDEST JANUARY EVER! Well, probably not, but it sure has felt like it to these old bones of mine. But as my more northerly friends continue to tell me, it’s not the weather, it’s the clothes. So this past week I suit up, and out I go into the cold for long nights of banding loons. Oh, the lengths I go to for the sake of science, and just to spend more time with my beloved loons. A warming trend began this Friday, so hopefully some of you housebound souls will venture out to share with us the wonders of Lake Jocassee this week. The waterfalls are roaring, and the beauty of the barren hillsides is breathtaking.
LOON REPORT. We found flight feathers on the water this week, so the pre-nuptial molt has officially begun. The loons can’t fly now for the next several weeks, but why would they want to, anyway. Life is easy on this wild and plentiful lake. Now until the time of departure is the most interesting time to watch our wondrous winter guests.
A banded Jocassee loon with all flight feathers intact!
DID YOU KNOW?
Loons are completely flightless without every single one of their flight feathers. Loons have relatively heavy bodies and small wings-both adaptations for diving deep into water. With a complete set of flight feathers, their wings have just about the minimum amount of surface area to hold up their bodies. If a loon were to try to fly while missing three wing feathers, the surface area of its wing would be too small to hold up its body! To minimize the time that they are flightless, loons molt all the flight feathers at once.
ABOUT THE BLUE WALL
Spanning three states (North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) and encompassing 859,000 acres, the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment, known as the 'Blue Wall' by Native Americans, contains some of the highest natural diversity of rare plants and animals found anywhere in the world.