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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!
The air this morning sits at 38 degrees, with a refreshing (read: cold!) north wind blowing over the dunes. A monochrome sky and light misty rain keeps all but me, husband, and dog from the beach. Swells crash the shoreline with soothing rhythm. Low tide. A raft of black scoters – hundreds, if not tens of thousands of sea ducks – bob just behind the breakers. Mica the Magnificent Wildlife Watcher sits to watch with curious intensity. Her (and our) close encounters this past week include a bottlenose dolphin rising touchably close to our canoe, a beaver-that-thank-god-wasn’t-an-alligator roused out of its den under the roots of a live oak, a multitude of whitetail deer, and a racoon ambling along the road. And birds… lots of birds. She studies the scoters until the roll of a dolphin catches her attention and she follows that down the beach, bounding in and out of the cold water. Further along, where a tidal marsh flows into the ocean with a ripping current, Mica sees a splash on the far shore and is swimming through the rushing tide before we can react. Our hearts stop. Husband is shedding hat, gloves, binoculars, and working off his coat. The headline flashes across my consciousness: 'Man Drowns Saving Dog; Wife Drowns Without Saving Husband.' (Notice who makes it out alive in this scenerio.) “Mica! Mica! Mica! Mica! Mica! Mica!” I call desperately, panicked, while she swims all the way across the strong current and then calmly swims back, not having found the thank-god-not-a-shark-or-alligator. (It was sand collapsing into the water creating the splash.) Our hearts slowly recovered. She appeared to spend the rest of the walk studying the flow of ocean currents. ~K
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.
Taught by Jerry Clark, students will be introduced to the honeybee and learn what each bee in the hive is responsible for, the components of the beehive, and equipment that the beekeeper will need to manage the hives.
Apis mellifera European honeybees
Photo by University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology
After enjoying our first winter snow this January, I recalled a warmer time at Jocassee in mid-September, when hints of fall began to tease us. Kayaking with a friend, we entered a cove not far from one of the boat ramps, looking for unique plants, reptiles, otters, etc. and decided to pull up on a small sandy beach to stretch and take a closer look at the vegetation. Most of the usual tree species were there but then a familiar, but now less common leaf, caught my eye. At first, I thought it was a small tree-size ‘sprout’ of an American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) but upon closer inspection, I noticed a bristly chestnut-like fruit, significantly smaller than the fruit of American Chestnut. The difference in size of leaves and fruit indicated it was ‘Common Chinkapin’, Castanea pumila. These 2 species are the only chestnut species that are native to this area. The Chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, came to North America via the Chinese Chestnut in 1904 and decimated the American Chestnut. The impact on Common Chinkapin is not clear in the research literature, with some reports indicating it may have some resistance to the fungus. The good news is that our chestnut tree species are able to resprout after the above-ground parts die off. The American Chestnut Foundation and other organizations are working hard to develop blight resistant American Chestnut trees without loss of size and quality. ~David White, JLT kayak and lake tour guide
The Allegheny chinquapin, also called common chinkapin, may well be the most ignored and undervalued native North American nut tree. It has been widely hailed as a sweet and edible nut and has been of value to its cousin, the American chestnut's breeding programs. It is, however, a small nut encased in a tough bur which makes for difficulties in harvesting the nut. ~Treehugger.com
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.