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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!
GIVE YOUR LOVED ONES THE GIFT OF JOCASSEE FOR VALENTINE'S DAY
Thursday begins with rain that slows to drizzle and stops by the time we are ready to board the boat. Around Lake Jocassee a low ceiling of cloud cover lifts just enough to reveal the lake and the base of Double Springs Mountain, but even the long low slope of Bootleg Mountain disappears into a gray mass of atmosphere. We prepare for departure as the ceiling of cloud began to lift, and by the time we pull away from the dock, the undulating lines of mountain ridges are outlined starkly against streaks of blue sky to the northwest, with feathers of leftover fog lightly brushing the water. By the time we round Roundhouse Point the fog has evaporated; the morning view is even more breathtaking as rays of sun break through to illuminate the water. We cut across to the dam, where, stretching all the way back as far as we can see towards the confluence of the Toxaway and Whitewater Rivers, real feathers float lightly on the water. Loon feathers. It isn’t carnage. It appears that every one of the hundred plus loons on the lake has begun to molt in earnest, simultaneously, the downy white evidence collecting in loose clouds across the water. For the next month the waterbirds will be in stages of molt as they prepare to look breeding-sexy. In the meantime, though, these birds are going to look nothing short of comical. ~K
And later that morning JLT shared beautiful Wright Creek Falls with FOX Carolina viewers.
Originally a military compound and later a trading post, this Historic Site offers both recreational opportunities and a unique look at 18th and 19th century South Carolina. Oconee Station, a stone blockhouse used as an outpost by the S.C. State Militia from about 1792 to 1799, and the William Richards House, are the only two structures that remain today.
Enjoy traditional Blue Grass music as local musicians gather at Table Rock to keep this inspirational talent alive. Visitors are invited to bring their acoustic instruments and join in a jam session or simply sit back to enjoy the music with the lake and mountains as a beautiful backdrop.
98th SC Inaugural. Shout out to all the Park Staff and Rangers who keep our State Parks Beautiful.
Tours of MM include an introduction to fungal ecology and life cycles, laboratory tour and research overviews, tour of the fruiting room, and if there is anything fruiting on the trail, you will get to experience it. Many aspects of mushrooms, including medicinal properties, cooking, and mycoremediation to soil creation will be discussed along the way!
We're on the hunt for spotted salamander eggs, which should be newly laid that time of year! We will use magiscopes to examine the developing embryos. We'll also turn some logs to see if we can find any spotted salamanders.
The molt is on at Lake Jocassee. Loons shed all their flight feathers here in January and remain flightless for several weeks. And why do they do this? They need all new feathers to make it to their breeding grounds in spring, being that flight seems almost an afterthought in their anatomical design. They are one of our earth’s great diving birds, but flying? Well, let’s say it doesn’t come easily for them. Long runs across the lake to get airborne, hoping for a stiff breeze to fly into, then around the lake they go, time and time again, working hard to gain the altitude necessary to get over the mountains. Sometimes they give it up and come back down, waiting to try another day. It’s not so easy being a big bird with nearly solid bones! So the molt is on, as they prepare for spring. On a glass calm morning this week early, there were white down feathers everywhere you look. February is the month to watch loons transform from their subtle gray beauty of winter to their glamorous summer look. The ability to watch this transformation is a unique opportunity only allowed to folks who spend time on southern reservoirs with resident loons this time of year. It’s one of nature's wonders. ~B
If loons had large wings, they wouldn't be able to stay submerged to chase fish. So to dive well, they have short wings and heavy bodies. Common Loons weigh about 9 pounds with a 46-inch wingspan. To put this in context, Great Blue Herons average 5.3 pounds with a 72-inch wingspan. Those relatively small loon wings must support a lot of bird compared to the huge wings of the heron! Imagine a huge parachute floating down with a 100-pound box. It can take a long time to hit the ground. Now imagine that same box attached to a tiny parachute. It won't "float" at all but drop fast! Herons are like the box with the big parachute, and loons like the same box with a tiny parachute. Thanks to their tiny wings, loons simply can't glide or soar, but must ALWAYS flap to stay aloft. Loon wings are so small compared to their body weight that even with strong flapping they can't support the weight of the loon in the air if they're missing a couple of feathers. Loons must work terribly hard to stay up if only one flight feather is missing. This is why loons molt all their flight feathers in winter. ~JourneyNorth.org
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.