Monday, December 9, 2019

Remembering Rex 25

If we were looking for owls, Rex McDaniel was usually with us. He just had a knack of finding them, especially at the Homesite around the pond built by H.P Ijams for his daughters.

Barred owls preferred habitat is woods near a pond, stream or wetland.  

Click: looking for owls

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Remembering Rex 24

Oh, do you remember the Sunday that the -ologists went on a Dragon-Quest looking for the aquatic palaeopterous insects around the Plaza Pond at Ijams? 

Rex McDaniel and Jason Dykes came along with their cameras. It was quite an adventure. 

Click: damsels and dragons

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Remembering Rex 23

We had a hooting good time at our Owl-ology 101 class just four years ago with Lynne McCoy and Sugar a snow white owl.   

Rex McDaniel came along that day with camera in hand.

Click: snow white owl. 

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Remembering Rex 22

There is something about a damp, muggy day in May to bring out the raspy-voiced tree frogs at Ijams. 

We could hear but not see them on our group's walk through the woods. So Rex McDaniel went back with his attentive eye and camera to find one and, as he usually did, he found his treasure of the day.

Click: raspy tree frogs 

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Remembering Rex 21

Rex McDaniel became known as the "Owl-Whisperer" around the Visitor Center at Ijams. Here is one he found back in May 2013 at the Homesite Pavilion very near where we held his "Celebration of Life" in November.   

Click: Homesite owl.

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Remembering Rex 20

If you were to sit on your back patio or front porch chances are in fairly short order you would see a Carolina wren. And since they tend to mate for life, you would probably in time see two.

These perky birds with the white eye stripe love to live around our homes. Rex McDaniel sent me a photo back in the spring of 2013. The pair had nested near his home and they were fairly busy raising their young family. 

Click: Carolina wren.

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Remembering Rex 19

It was five years ago today—December 2, 2014—that I posted a story about my ancestral homeland with autumnal photographs that Rex McDaniel had just sent to me. 

Click: Roaring Fork

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Remembering Rex 18

It was three years ago plus a few dark hours—Monday, November 28, 2016—that a once contained wildfire in the Smokies was whipped into something more horrific by 87 mph winds. The resulting firestorm roared down out of the mountains and left a scar across 10,000 acres of the national park, plus in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and beyond. Fourteen people died, 134 were injured and many people were left with broken hearts.

Three years ago today, I published a post about the fire not knowing what had been lost. I even wondered about the four preserved cabins at Junglebrook and along Roaring Fork. I am related to all who once lived there. Their DNA is intertwined within my own. 

Unaware of its fate, I included a photo of a log cabin taken by Rex McDaniel. He often went there with his camera in hand. For him, it was a place of great solace, as it is for me. 

Had anything survived? 

Click: Gatlinburg fire storm

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Turkey Day

"Our two regular visitors came by this afternoon for a snack. I hope they aren’t on someone’s menu tomorrow!" emailed Lynne Davis late yesterday.

Indeed. They have been a regular part of our Thanksgivings since the very first one, so much so that wild turkeys had all but disappeared. But through focused conservation efforts they have made a slow comeback. Lynne and Bob Davis now routinely see them around their house.

Reports of the menu for the first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims celebrated with the Wampanoags and their chief Massasoit are a bit sketchy. Only two written accounts survive, one a letter written by Edward Winslow dated December 12, 1621 and the other, William Bradford’s “History of Plymouth Plantation” written 20 years later. The foods the men mentioned were corn, Indian corn (ground into cornmeal), barley (mainly used to make beer), peas (but only a few because the first crop didn’t do well), fowl (probably ducks, geese, swans and cranes), fish (mostly bass and cod), venison (the Wampanoags brought five deer) and wild turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

And we all have many many things to be thankful for. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Remembering Rex 17

Ever so often it is necessary to reinvent oneself. The old ways no longer apply. But perhaps the most spectacular re-inventors are the insects that go through complete metamorphosis.

Data fata secutus.

In September 2013, Rex McDaniel found a wonderful example in plain sight: the green park bench on the plaza in front of the Visitor Center at Ijams. Rex even got a video. 

Click: metamorphosis

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Remembering Rex 16

When the 2016 edition of TN Naturalist @ Ijams went to the ponds to find and learn about frogs, newts and other amphibians, Rex McDaniel was there to record the fun of it all. And it was fun!

Click: amphibians!

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Remembering Rex 15

In 2013, Rex McDaniel and I had a wonderful conversation about slugs that included a photograph by his son James. 

Yes, these mollusks, really shell-less snails, can be rather interesting. 

Click: white slug

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Remembering Rex 14

And then there were our yearly May road trips to Chota, the Cherokee peace town. We went to honor the grave of Oconastota, the great Cherokee Warrior Chief who died there with peace in his heart in 1783 and in the afterglow, we listened for cricket frogs and chuck-will's-widows in the twilight. 

Rex McDaniel often went with us to be in that sacrosanct place on the lake, to be in the moment. 

Click: Chota in the twilight 

And make sure you listen to Jason Dykes recording at the end made that night in 2013. 

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Remembering Rex 13

For the past several springs, a pair of red-shouldered hawks have built their nest in the trees behind Tiger's enclosure by the parking lot at Ijams.

In April 2014, the attentive eye of Rex McDaniel was the first to see the young clutch moving around in the lofty nest and he got a video of it. 

Click: red-shouldered hawks.

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Remembering Rex 12

We looked at a hot day in June, what about a rainy day in May? 

In blustery May, Ijams is often slow on Mondays but the attentive eye of Rex McDaniel caught some action in 2012 even in the rain with a caption that could have read...

"Don't you just love Ijams." 

Click: rainy day.

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Remembering Rex 11

On a hot day in June, what better way to escape the heat than go to the creek? And that's just what we did in 2016. The attentive eye of Rex McDaniel decided to come along to watch the fun. And it was truly a cool way to spend the afternoon. 

Click: in the creek.

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Remembering Rex 10

One day in July 2017, the attentive eye of Rex McDaniel found a late Northern cardinal nest. Very active, low to the ground in the shrubs. July is somewhat late in the season for cardinals to be nesting. Most of the resident species—wrens, chickadees, titmice, robins—nest early. By July parent birds are beginning to molt. Feathers grow faster in the warm weather.   

Click: late cardinal nest. 

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Remembering Rex 9

The attentive eye of Rex McDaniel took in the little things. He saw everything from big to small. As small as a fly blowing a bubble in 2013. 

Click: fly bubble?

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Remembering Rex 8

If our topic was owls, Rex McDaniel was generally there, as he was in the fall of 2015 for the Ijams Owl-ology class that also featured wildlife rehabilitator Lynne McCoy and Sugar, a snow-white barred owl, and Laura Twilley with her owl cupcakes. 

Click: Owl-ology

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Remembering Rex 7

At the memorial "Celebration of Life" for Rex McDaniel held outside last Sunday at the original Ijams Homesite near the woods and pond that Rex loved, Sharon told a story of his attentive eye. 

When they were working on the front desk together, Sharon said she could go out to the Universal Pond in front of the Visitor's Center and not find a single frog, but Rex could go out after her and find 13, as he did when he found the first bullfrog in 2012.

Click: first bullfrog

Photograph/graphic by his friend Chuck Cooper.