May 11, 2013
First thoughts on Annual Great Smoky Mountains birding trip (annual since 1984!)  I’ve decided this needs mentioning – Wild South’s mission has me thinking: ‘inspire people to Enjoy, Value and Protect” begins with one great word – “Enjoy”.  In a world of gloom and doom, reactionary news, I completely agree that one needs to slow down and remember to truly enjoy our natural world – which triggers this passionate understanding that wild places have value unto themselves (whether we all give them value or not, they are good in themselves) – and THAT is one easy lineage toward an ethic of conservation.

So, to be brief, on a cool, foggy Saturday morning, we drove to meet some of the All Stars of Southern natural history, culture and science. You can read more eloquent text from Don Hendershot HERE, but I want to briefly mention how it feels to be amidst enviro heroes like this – Don Hendershot, George Ellison, Rick Pyeritz, Fred Alsop, Tony Scardaci, Ed Kelley (Kate, Martha, Elizabeth, Brent and Angela Martin, -I hope I didn’t leave anyone out) – it was in one word “awesome”. I am in awe to see the different birding techniques, the delicate ear for calls, the quick sightings….these folks are incredible. And George Ellison has reminded me to SLOW down…

At Balsam Mountain, we all stop and quietly gawk at this one little bugger in particular: the Chestnut Sided Warbler. These guys are migratory and live in clearings of mature forests, so as Second growth forests in the south have matured, they have become more common. But when we all draw a bead on this warbler, ….we collectively gasp. She is gorgeous, colorful, delightful, light, airy, and part of the world around us. More on this trip to come, but for this week….STOP, LOOK, and ENJOY this friend of the forest – The Chestnut Sided Warbler! ( Thanks for the image to Ed Kelley !)

chestnut sided warbler