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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 by sending them to the email address at the bottom of the page, and we'll do our best to make you (locally) famous!
For some, the sudden switch from air conditioning to heat is a surprise. If you prefer spending your days outdoors, the signs of summer slipping into autumn are everywhere. Migratory birds are on the move, mushrooms pop out everywhere, fall flowers bloom. Spiders prowl, on the lookout for mates. Crows are more conversational. At night, katydid symphony fades to the chorus of crickets. There is food for all: fruits, nuts, seeds, nectar, and gardens to harvest. Life is poised, a continuum of change. ~K
Fall is migration time; song birds, butterflies, and HAWKS!! This week as I was leaving Lake Jocassee I glanced up into the sky and beheld a wondrous sight! A large and rapidly growing kettle of hawks. I am certain there were more than 50 individuals in this swirling rising mass. A “kettle” is a term used to describe a congregation of migrating raptors. These birds are not a flock in the sense that they are socially associated. They just happen to be going the same way, same day. Hawks are visual birds and migrate during the day. Migrating song birds tend to travel at night. Hawks are very good at finding and using rising currents of air, whether the rising air is from heat (thermals) or mechanical uplift which occurs when wind is forced upward by rising terrain. As I watched, hawks were gliding straight in from the north, over the lake, and joining the kettle from the bottom, then changing their flight path to a tight circling pattern that I imagine was utilizing a heat thermal rising from the hot asphalt parking lot at the park. The birds rapidly ascended--with very little flapping of wings--several hundred feet and just as they had joined from the bottom of the kettle they departed from the top, sailing unerringly toward the south. Undoubtedly, these hawks are going to have to sit out tomorrow (last Thursday) as the spent hurricane passes and they will once again head south on the following cold front. Vaya con Dios!
Fun Fact: The term “kettle” is thought to convey the image of steam swirling up from a boiling pot. ~Capt. Ric Barnett
Capt. Ric Barnett
JOCASSEEE WINTERBIRD REPORT
Just yesterday JLT guide Zach saw four Bonaparte’s gulls on the lake, a sure sign that Jocassee winterbirds are on the way. We have been seeing a small group of 4 to 6 immature loons throughout the summer, but these Bonaparte’s are the first arrivals of the migratory birds who spend part of their winter here. They migrate from the boreal forests of northern Canada to stay with us in fall and spring. Most migrate further south in the dead of winter. ~B
Act 18 requires that “All nonexempt persons (including hikers) must wear a hat, coat, or vest of solid international orange while on Wildlife Management Area lands (including the Jocassee Gorges) during deer hunting season, which begins Oct. 1”
DID YOU KNOW?
This is the time of year you may see the drifting gossamer, produced by dispersing baby spiders in a phenomenon is known as “ballooning.” Baby spiders climb up to high points on fences or plants, produce silk threads that act like sails and get carried off by the wind. These baby spiders are able to go quite long distances this way, thus spreading their populations.
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.
Jocassee Lake Tours Depart from the Main Dock at Devils Fork State Park
PLEASE CALL 864-280-5501 AT LEAST 24 HOURS IN ADVANCE TO RESERVE YOUR SEATS!