Sunday, June 3, 2018

Early Summer 2018 In High Knob Massif


June 2, 2018
High Knob Massif
Elevation 4100 Feet Along Route 238
Majestic Sun Rays Following A Thunderstorm
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Near saturated air being blown by gusty winds through the high gap between the peaks of High Knob and Eagle Knob was illuminated by late afternoon sun rays, in wake of thunderstorms, 
to welcome Summer 2018 in the high country.

*June-August marks the Meteorological Summer Season

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June 2, 2018
Water Elevation 3520 Feet
Majestic Light At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Neotropical migrants have arrived for the breeding season, with the forests full of wondrous bird songs to include a Swainson's Warbler ( Limnothlypis swainsonii )  which I have recently found in the drainage of Robinette Branch.

*This is the first time I have observed Swainson's Warbler in this drainage, with nearby Roaring Branch and portions of the Little Stony Creek watershed having Swainson's documented during 2017 Breeding Bird surveys.

June 2, 2018
Elevation 2380 Feet
Legion Park In City of Norton
Whitewater Rolls On Robinette Branch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Least Flycatchers ( Empidonax minimus ) have now expanded their range downward from the highest ridges into mesic, northern exposed 
basins at High Knob Lake and the dual Norton Reservoirs.  Another significant observation.

June 2, 2018
Elevation 3523 Feet
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
High Elevation Wetland At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Eagle Knob – May 2018
Elevation 1277 Meters ( 4188 feet )

Average Daily Maximum: 68.8 degrees
Average Daily Minimum: 55.7 degrees
MEAN: 62.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 76 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 37 degrees

*University Of Virginia's College At Wise Research Station
National Weather Service calibrated temperature sensor
( Data Period: November 12, 2016 to Present )

Canada Warblers ( Cardellina canadensis ) were especially active around the wetland at High Knob Lake on June 2, as a late afternoon thunderstorm developed.

High Knob Lake – May 2018
Elevation 1074 Meters ( 3523 feet )

Average Daily Maximum: 70.5 degrees
Average Daily Minimum: 52.6 degrees
MEAN: 61.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 78 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 28 degrees

*University Of Virginia's College At Wise Research Station
National Weather Service calibrated temperature sensor
( Data Period: November 19, 2016 to Present )


May was unseasonably warm in the high country, with coolest nights occurring within high valleys of Big Cherry Lake Basin which I highlight below.

June 2, 2018
Elevation 3523 Feet
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
High Elevation Wetland At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 4, 2018
Water Elevation 3318 Feet
Gorgeous Conditions Behind A Cold Front
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 4, 2018
Water Elevation 3318 Feet
Gorgeous Conditions Behind A Cold Front
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 4, 2018
Upper Norton Reservoir
Fraser Magnolia ( Magnolia fraseri )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 4, 2018
Water Elevation 3230 Feet
Lower Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Majestic Summer Day In The High Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 7, 2018
High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Valley 2 – May 2018
Elevation 988 Meters ( 3240 feet )

Average Daily Maximum: 71.9 degrees
Average Daily Minimum: 51.9 degrees
MEAN: 61.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 80 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 28 degrees

*University Of Virginia's College At Wise Research Station
National Weather Service calibrated temperature sensor
( Data Period: September 11, 2016 to Present )

June 7, 2018
High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Valley 4 – May 2018
Elevation 971 Meters ( 3186 feet )

Average Daily Maximum: 74.1 degrees
Average Daily Minimum: 49.1 degrees
MEAN: 61.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 80 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 25 degrees

*University Of Virginia's College At Wise Research Station
National Weather Service calibrated temperature sensor
( Data Period: February 19, 2017 to Present )

June 7, 2018
High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valleys
Mountain Laurel ( Kalmia latifolia )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 7, 2018
High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valleys
Interrupted Ferns ( Osmunda claytoniana )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 9, 2018
Elevation 3200 Feet
Prior To A Booming Thunderstorm
View From Flag Rock Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 9, 2018
Thunderstorms In The Distance
View From Flag Rock Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 9, 2018
City of Norton - Viewed From Flag Rock RA
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 9, 2018
Developing Afternoon Thunderstorms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 11, 2018
Day Lily ( Hemerocallis spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 15, 2018
View From Bear Rock Heath Barren
Little Stony Creek Gorge of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 15, 2018
View From Bear Rock Heath Barren
Little Stony Creek Gorge of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Eagle Knob – June 1-19 2018
Elevation 1277 Meters ( 4188 feet )

Average Daily Maximum: 69.3 degrees
Average Daily Minimum: 58.5 degrees
MEAN: 63.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 75 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 51 degrees

*University Of Virginia's College At Wise Research Station
National Weather Service calibrated temperature sensor
( Data Period: November 12, 2016 to Present )

June 20, 2018
Beautiful Skies Above The Mountains
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 20, 2018
Towering Cumulus Prior To Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 20, 2018
Approaching Sunset Along The Cumberlands
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 20, 2018
Majestic Skies Approaching Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 20, 2018
Majestic Light Rays Near Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This section is under construction.  Please check back.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Spring 2018 Renewal_High Knob Massif Area


April 29, 2018
Middle Elevations of High Knob Massif
Beauty of Red Trillium ( Trillium spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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A frosty ending to April 2018 concluded 
an unseasonably cold mid-spring in the 
Cumberland Mountains.

April 27, 2018
Lower Elevations of Cumberland Mountains
Large-flowered Trillium ( Trillium grandiflorum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although trilliums appear simplistic, and 3-parted, there is actually quite a complex of forms within the spectrum from Trillium erectum and Trillium sulcatum ( varied colors upon their emergence ) to Trillium grandiflorum ( varied colorations with aging ).

April 29, 2018
Middle Elevations of High Knob Massif
Creamy-Yellow Form ( Trillium spp. )
 Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

These are all listed as lower-middle elevations since upper elevations continue to creep into spring, with min temperatures dropping deeply into 20s to close out April and begin May 2018.

April 29, 2018
Water Elevation 3120 feet
A Chilly Sunday Afternoon At Big Cherry Lake
 Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
 January-April Precipitation Totals

January 2018
5.48"

February 2018
14.37"

March 2018
7.09"

April 2018
3.96"

*Total: 30.90"

A total of 34.78" of precipitation 
during the December-April period.

*The total is somewhat low due to wind induced rain gauge under-catch with air flowing across Big Cherry Dam ( rain gauges are 20 feet above the water level to the northeast and around 100 feet above ground level toward the southwest ).

April 29, 2018
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Vegetation clearly has a long way to go in upper elevations to reach summer status, with the month of May expected to be explosive as longer days and higher mean temps finally get to combine to work their magic!

April 29, 2018
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Magic already well underway at lower elevations, 
even though not really visible in this long distance 
view looking down to the floor of the Great Valley 
( lying  between high country areas ), in NE Tennessee, and well beyond to the Black Mountains capping the 
far horizon above western North Carolina.

April 29, 2018
Tennessee Valley In Between High Country Masses 
Looking Across High Knob Lake Basin Near Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 3, 2018
Lower Elevations
Dwarf Crested Iris ( Iris cristata )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Pink Azalea ( Rhododendron periclymenoides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Pink Azalea ( Rhododendron periclymenoides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Lower-Middle Elevations
Pink Lady's-slipper ( Cypripedium acaule )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Lower-Middle Elevations
Wild Stonecrop ( Sedum ternatum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Spring Scene In Cumberland Mountains
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Approaching Sunset In Cumberland Mountains
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Spring Scene In Cumberland Mountains
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 6, 2018
Young Maple Leaves Emerging
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 9, 2018
Wild Geranium ( Geranium spp. ) 
and Colorful Sweat Bee ( Halictidae Family )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 9, 2018
Flame Azalea ( Rhododendron calendulaceum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 9, 2018
Daisy Fleabane ( Erigeron spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 9, 2018
Buttercup ( Ranunculus spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 10, 2018
Looking SE Across Dickenson County
Towering Cumulus & Cumulonimbus
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 10, 2018
Pink Lady's-slipper ( Cypripedium acaule )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 10, 2018
Pink Lady's-slipper Orchid ( Cypripedium acaule )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 10, 2018
Before Sunset
Double Lady's-slipper Orchids
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 10, 2018
Changing Light Near Sunset
Double Beauty of Lady's-slipper Orchids
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 10, 2018
Lower Elevations
Sunset Above The Cumberland Mountains
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 11, 2018
Fire Pink ( Silene virginica )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 11, 2018
Wild Comfrey ( Cynoglossum virginianum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2018
Importance Of Standing Dead Trees
Pileated Woodpecker Home In Dead Beech
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2018
American Beech ( Fagus grandifolia )
Late Spring In Beech Woods - Lower Elevations
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Spring Conditions In High Country

A productive field trip with Dr. Walter ( Wally ) Smith was amid increasingly humid conditions in advance of showers and downpours in thunderstorms.

May 15, 2018
Looking Across High Knob Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Temperatures during the first half of May have been coolest within high valleys of the high country, which is evident by a more colorful array of emerging tree leaves.

There is a period in mid-spring when the emergence of young leaves causes the forest to look much like autumn, only at this time colors give way to greening that closes the forest canopy instead of dropping off to the forest floor.

Temperatures ( May 1-15, 2018 )
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif

Average Daily MAX: 69.5 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 53.4 degrees
MEAN: 61.4 degrees
MAX Temperature; 76 degrees
MIN Temperature: 37 degrees

A radical increase in temperatures occurred during the first half of May as conditions literally jumped from late winter-early spring straight into summer mode across the mountain region.

Temperatures ( May 1-15, 2018 )
Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4

Average Daily MAX: 73.9 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 43.3 degrees
MEAN: 58.6 degrees
MAX Temperature; 80 degrees
MIN Temperature: 25 degrees

May 15, 2018
High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A few bird species documented May 15 included:

Tufted Titmouse 
( Baeolophus bicolor )

Canada Warbler
( Cardellina canadensis )

Veery Thrush
( Catharus fuscescens )

Eastern Wood Pewee
( Contopus virens )

American Crow
( Corvus brachyrhynchos )

Northern Raven
( Corvus corax )

Blue Jay
( Cyanocitta cristata )

Gray Catbird
( Dumetella carolinensis )

Least Flycatcher
( Empidonax minimus )

Wood Thrush
( Hylocichla mustelina )

Dark-eyed Junco
( Junco hyemalis )

Song Sparrow
( Melospiza melodia )

Black-and-white Warbler
( Mniotilta varia )

Brown-headed Cowbird
( Molothrus ater )

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
( Pheucticus ludovicianus )

Scarlet Tanager 
( Piranga olivacea )

Ovenbird
( Seiurus aurocapilla  )

Black-throated Blue Warbler
( Setophaga caerulescens )

Hooded Warbler
( Setophaga citrina )

Magnolia Warbler
( Setophaga magnolia )

American Restart
( Setophaga ruticilla )

American Goldfinch
( Spinus tristis

American Robin
( Turdus migratorius )

Blue-headed Vireo
( Vireo solitarius )

Cedar Waxwing 
( Bombycilla cedrorum )

Broad-winged Hawk 
( Buteo platypterus )

Pileated Woodpecker 
( Hylatomus pileatus )

Black-throated Green Warbler 
( Setophaga virens )

May 15, 2018
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Interrupted Fern ( Osmunda claytoniana ) with 
Canada Mayflower ( Maianthemum canadense )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Miles of Canada Mayflower are up and partially in bloom as many different fern species are coming 
alive from their winter slumber.

May 15, 2018
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 15, 2018
Near Little Eagle Knob
Bear Corn ( Conopholis americana )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 17, 2018
Sunlight Highlighting Yellowish Sporangia
Rattlesnake Fern ( Botrypus virginianum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 18, 2018
Lower Elevations Following Rain
Yellow Flag Iris ( Iris pseudacorus )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 18, 2018
Virginia Creeper ( Parthenocissus quinquefolia )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 23, 2018
Pink Peony ( Paeonia spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Classic Water Reflection View
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Water Elevation 3318 feet
Upper Norton Reservoir - City Of Norton
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Water Elevation 3230 feet
Lower Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Elevation 3900 feet
Camp Rock Meadow of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Fern Laden Woods - Along Camp Rock Meadow
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Along Camp Rock Meadow
Fern Laden Northern Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Camp Rock Meadow
Fraser Magnolia ( Magnolia fraseri )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Camp Rock Meadow of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Fern Laden Woods Along Camp Rock Meadow
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2018
Small Yellow Orchid Variety
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Yellow Lady's-slipper ( Cypripedium parviflorum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A spider with nearly identical colorations to this species
appears to have co-evolved with it, with strikingly similar
abdominal colors matching the lip and twisted petals. The
rounded abdomen of this spider can be seen if you look at
the bottom of the above photograph past the twisted petal
hanging down beyond the lip ( the spider remained on the
dark side of the plant ).

The lip, or shoe, on this species is only 20-30 mm, and I have only found it growing at upper elevations in the High Knob Massif.


May 24, 2018
Small Yellow Orchid Variety
Yellow Lady's-slipper ( Cypripedium parviflorum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Capturing these images was a challenge amid a cloud of long-legged flies ( Diptera: Dolichopodidae ) and other species filling the air, while Eastern Chipmunks 
( Tamias striatus ) ran amok on the forest floor.

*The High Knob Massif contains the most chipmunks I have 
ever seen , and this seems to be consistent from year to year.

May 24, 2018
Small Yellow Orchid Variety
Yellow Lady's-slipper ( Cypripedium parviflorum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 26, 2018
Mullins Blueberry Farm
Queens-Anne's Lace ( Daucus carota )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 26, 2018
Mullins Blueberry Farm
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 26, 2018
Mullins Blueberry Farm
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 30, 2018
Late Afternoon Thunderstorms At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The average May temperature at High Knob Lake
has been 70.5 degrees ( highest temperature reached
78 degrees on May 14 ).

May 30, 2018 at 6:03 PM
High Knob Lake - Elevation 3520 feet
Brief Lull Between Gusty Thunderstorms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This section is under construction.  Please check for updates.