Rally’s focus: Flowers, birds, goats, and even snails

Published 7:35 am Friday, April 25, 2014

The annual Roan Mountain Naturalists Rally will be held this weekend, with the opening program this evening at the Roan Mountain State Park Conference Center.
The weekend of activities will feature programs by Daniel C. Dourson and Bob Hale in addition to a variety of field trips Saturday and Sunday.
This evening’s program will begin at 5:30 with registration, followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m., which is by reservation only.
The evening program at 7:30 p.m. will be presented by Daniel D. Dourson on “Of Ice Thorns, Tree Crotches and Love Darts: Shelled Creatures of the Southern Appalachians.”
Dourson, a wildlife biologist, naturalist and natural history author, will share his passion for the shelled creatures of the Southern Appalachians, the land snails. Dourson has been studying land snails in the Southern Appalachians for nearly 20 years. He recently described four new species from the area, including the globally endangered Roan Mountain endemic, Roan Covert.
The speaker will share about the intricate delicate features that separate these creatures and what love darts, ice thorns and tree crotches have to do with these organisms.
Dourson will lead a field trip on Saturday afternoon in search of these jewels in the forest leaf litter.
If snails aren’t your thing, then spring wildflowers and native orchids might be more appealing.
Saturday evening, Bob Hale will present a program which will take a colorful look at some of the unique wildflowers that make their home in the Southern Appalachians.
Hale’s interest in wildflowers began in the late 1960s, when he began making slides of spring wildflowers. His program will feature a sampling of his digital images of wildflowers, including a special focus on numerous native orchids. His collection of images are taken from nearby locations, including Grayson Highlands, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Unaka Mountain, Buffalo Mountain, Cherokee National Forest, the Appalachian Trail and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as some sites in Middle Tennessee.
An avid gardener, Hale has developed a strong interest in daylilies and has been growing, hybridizing and selling them for more than 40 years.
A chemist at Eastman Chemical Company for 33 years, Hale was a member of the Eastman Camera Club for more than 25 years, serving as president and teaching numerous photography classes.
The Saturday evening program will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Other weekend activities include a moth party at 9 p.m. Friday led by Larry McDaniel and a variety of field trips Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday field trips will include a nature photography trip, led by Jerry Greer at 6 a.m. at Carver’s Cap to capture sunrise on the mountain.
There will be an early bird field trip at 6:30 a.m. at Hampton Creek Cove led by the Lee and Lois Herndon Bird Club.
Field trips scheduled at 8:30 a.m. include Birds of Roan Mountain; a Jones Falls Hike; River and Mountain Wildflowers; Nature Photography; Tree Identification Basics; and Birding for Beginners.
A lunchtime workshop from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. will focus on Fossil Casting for All Ages led by Mick Whitelaw and the ETSU Dept. of Geology and Geoscience Club.
Marty Silvers will also present a program at 12:30 p.m. on dragonflies.
Field trips are also scheduled Saturday afternoon, beginning a 2 p.m., which will include nature walks, wildflowers and trees, reptiles and amphibians, the Baatany Goat Project and the Roan Balds, aquatic insects and butterflies.
Among the field trips scheduled Sunday include Birds of Hampton Creek at 8:30 a.m. and Doe River Gorge Wildflowers and Geology, which will be an all-day hike. Those planning to take this field trip are asked to bring lunch, water and rain gear.
Afternoon field trips are scheduled at 2 p.m.

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