Looking NNE from Whiteside

Early winter view looking NNE from Whiteside Mountain, near Highlands, North Carolina. The Great Smoky Mountains loom in the far distance. In the words of the immortal William Bartram, “a sublimely awful scene of power and magnificence, a world of mountains piled upon mountains.”

Rhodes Big View

Looking east from Whiteside Mountain, over the Cashiers Valley, where the headwaters of the mighty Chattooga River flow — the first National Wild & Scenic River in the east. We received well over 100 inches of rain in 2018 — it’s all that precip that puts the “smoke” in the Great Smoky Mountains and the … More Rhodes Big View

Devil’s Courthouse

Devil’s Courthouse, on the flanks of Whiteside Mountain. Whiteside, which boasts some of the highest sheer cliffs in the east, is known as Sanigilâ’gĭ to the Cherokee people. A “thunder mountain,” Whiteside is the legendary home of the shapeshifting witch Spearfinger, U’tlun’ta.

Three hummers!

Three of the dozens of hummingbird species we were treated to in Ecuador!  Upper left and right: Collared Inca (Coeligena torquata) and Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingii), both of which frequent the feeders of Guango Lodge in upper montane rainforest.  Lower left: the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas), a whopper of a hummer at about 9″ (22 cm) in … More Three hummers!

Napo Tamarins, Wildsumaco

These Napo tamarin monkeys (Saguinus graellsi) were often curious about our class, checking us out from the safety of the cecropia trees where they loved to forage.  We spotted them often near Wildsumaco Lodge, outstanding birding lodge associated with Wildsumaco Biological Station.

Gray’s Lily, Roan Mountain

One of the highlights of the 2018 Highlands-Ecuador course was Roan Mountain, straddling the NC-TN border.  The Roan massif is home to the largest of the southern Appalachian grassy balds, unique high-elevation communities thought to have formed through a combination of climate and mega-herbivores.  Roan is also home to many botanical rarities, including the fabulous Gray’s Lily … More Gray’s Lily, Roan Mountain

Andean Condor

The fabulous Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) can be considered the largest flying bird in the world as reckoned by a combination of weight and wingspan.  The word “majestic” is rarely applied to vultures, but this species is surely deserving of the term!  We came upon a rare sight traveling through Patagonia: about 35 Andean Condors … More Andean Condor

Guanacos

One of four extant South American camelids, the charismatic guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is the most common and widespread species.  I encountered this one near Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

Darwin’s Rhea

I have long wanted to see Darwin’s Rheas (Pterocnemia pennata) on the Patagonian steppe, and my dream was realized when I visited fabulous Chilean Patagonia last February!  I took this photo north of Puntas Arenas.  Darwin had been seeking this species, also known as the Lesser Rhea, during his travels in southern South America during the voyage of HMS Beagle. … More Darwin’s Rhea