Earthshine Mountain Lodge

Earthshine Nature Programs Newsletter

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Mountain Lodge and is 501c3 non profit charity. We work to conserve the Eastern box turtle and our native wildlife and educate YOU about why wildlife and wild places are so important. We are all volunteers and do not draw a salary so 100% of ALL donations support the daily operational costs of ENP and our education and conservation programs and they are also tax deductible. Check out the Earthshine Nature Programs website for information on all of our programs and our Nature Center.

Editor: Earthshine's Resident Naturalist Steve O'Neil

Issue 8, Spring 2011

A Newsletter All About Nature From Earthshine Mountain Lodge

Looking Glass Rock from John's Rock--winter 2011.

High-Tech-Geek-Note: This newsletter is long so it may load slowly on some computers. Please be patient because we believe that nature knowledge is worth the wait.

The ENP Newsletter is a way for you to connect with your favorite nature, outdoor education, and adventure vacation destination: Earthshine Mountain Lodge. Within the pages of this periodic email newsletter, you will receive updates on the Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle Conservation program, current nature related events from ENP, and wildlife and nature related news from around the world. Within this newsletter you will also find photos from around Earthshine taken by the staff and you, the guests of Earthshine, as well as nature and outdoor education related trivia, games and puzzles. We will also keep you up-to-date on new things happening at Earthshine that we believe you may be interested in.

Late Summer Sunset by Christina Ramsey.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the Issue

2. Earthshine Nature Programs Update

3. Turtle Tracks Project Update

4. Turtle Tracks Fundraiser and Open House

5. Nature Notes: Bats are in Danger

6. A New Puzzle

7. Earthshine Staff Spotlight

8. A Tribute to Discovery

9. THANK YOU

10. Steve's Nature Links and Lore

Toads in the toad cave by Steve O'Neil.

Introduction

Winter is almost over and spring is getting ready to bust out in all its glory! The wild turkey Toms are testing out their gobbles and several guests have heard distant Coyote pups howling, barking and squealing in the middle of the night! The Willow trees are greening, the Spring Peepers are peeping and the Spotted Salamanders are breeding in hidden pools deep in the forests. I haven't seen any stirrings from any of the turtles yet but it will not be very long until they stick their heads out from under their leaf covers to see how much longer they have to sleep until spring!

Ladybugs wait for spring by Steve O'Neil.

I have added several new photos to the albums page of the Earthshine Nature website so check it out below.

2011 Photo Albums

Winter is almost over so scenes like this one taken by Susan Davis, will soon be forgotten.

If you are looking for an unforgettable place to spend your holiday, vacation or just a weekend getaway--make it Earthshine Mountain Lodge. Please give us a call today at (828) 862-4207.

Earthshine Nature Programs and Nature Education Center UPDATE

The Earthshine Nature Center is complete! We are up and running and only recently the critters started coming out of hibernation! Scar and Xavier have been very active and moving about in the Ratsnake Skyway. One day we discovered that Xavier was actually a girl...so we changed her name to Xena. How did we discover this, well...we caught Scar and Xena mating! Yes, that's right mating...in the Skyway tubes...for all to see...so check out this photo and realize that this is something that most people NEVER get to see.

The Mating Game by Susan Davis.

This is an amazing part of nature that these snakes have allowed us to witness and hopefully soon we will have baby rat snakes that I will need to find homes for...I will keep you posted:-)

Meet Gandalf, our new Canebrake Rattlesnake. Gandalf was donated to us by Mandy Jordan, curator of animals at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC. Thank You Mandy! The next time you visit Earthshine you will be able to visit Gandalf and learn about the amazing Rattlesnake!

Gandalf by Susan Davis.

We have completed the construction of our new 125 gallon Eastern Hellbender exhibit and have acquired all the appropriate permits so hopefully we will have a Hellbender by early spring. Until then take a look at this wonderful short video of Hellbenders in the wild by Jeff Humphries.

For more on the Eastern Hellbender check out

The Hellbender Homepage

Hellbender by Lori Williams.

And take a look at this recent article on the Hellbender (aka: Snot Otter) in this Wall Street Journal.

I just love monkeys! I met these fun guys at the Schiele Museum and I even got to eat a Monkey Biscuit!

Mission Statement

The mission of Earthshine Nature Programs is to teach nature awareness and wildlife conservation education to individuals, families and groups that visit Earthshine and to provide outreach to local school, scout and other groups as well. Hopefully after visiting the Earthshine Nature Center or after a visit from our Outreach Team, folks will be inspired to learn more about the wildlife back at home and abroad, why it is important, and why we should all be concerned about wildlife and nature conservation.

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Christina Ramsey.

My personal goal with the Earthshine Nature Center is simple: I want people to learn, grow and develop a passion and a love for the wild things--cuddly and furry and slimy and scaly--that we share this world with. Once a person understands and loves something they will naturally want to preserve and protect it. I invite you all to come join me on my quest for nature awareness for all.

Yellow Birch by Steve O'Neil.

The Earthshine Nature Education Center is a great thing for Earthshine and for the community as a whole. It is great place for visitors and locals to come and learn about nature, wildlife and our role in the web of life. The Center is the base of operations for the Turtle Tracks project, the R & R program, the box turtle head start program, the box turtle DNA collection project, the amphibian Chytrid fungus monitoring project, the Calling Amphibian Survey Project (CASP), and the Nature of the Didgeridoo. We have informational stations, maps, posters and fliers as well as exhibits that will educate the visitor on the who, what, how and why of our projects to the wonderful world of nature and the opportunities for citizen science just outside their doors. We will also devote some space to the much larger issues that affect us all such as global warming, overfishing, amphibian decline, alternative energy, space exploration and more!

River Frog tadpole by Steve Atkins. (Yes it is really that big!)

Let's go turtle tracking!

TURTLE TRACKS PROJECT UPDATE

All of the Turtle Tracks turtles are still sleeping off the winter months snug in their underground dens. The photo above is of Mrs. Bones' overwintering location about a month ago--a few days after a big snow. All of the resident turtles in the Earthshine R & R facility are still sleeping the winter away...hopefully soon we will see them slowly emerge from their winter dens to breathe he deeply of the warm spring air.

Turtle Tracks by Aaron Weed.

Mr. Bones is still missing. I have searched for his signal all winter and as of March 5th I have had no luck locating him. It looks like the Turtledogs will have to use their amazing noses to sniff him out sometime in May. Look for a video and many photos of that amazing event in the next newsletter!

Turtledogs by John Rucker.

If you wondered what happened on the day I released Mr. Frodo--check out this video for the answer.

If you went on a turtle tracking expedition with me over the summer and you have not seen your video, you can search for your video in each turtles tracking day index found on their individual pages linked from the main Turtle Tracks home page here.

SPECIAL NATURE NEWS UPDATE

EARTHSHINE NATURE PROGRAMS FUNDRAISER, OPEN HOUSE AND LIVE DIDGERIDOO CONCERT

Earthshine Nature Programs will be holding a fundraiser, open house and concert on the afternoon of Sunday April 17th, 2011 from 2pm until 6pm.

The event will be held at

Earthshine Mountain Lodge in Lake Toxaway, NC.

Admission is free.

We will be holding a raffle and/or a silent auction that will include many unique and interesting nature, wildlife, outdoor and turtle themed items.

Box Turtle by Christina Ramsey.

The focus will be on several selected pieces of original artwork by Lake Toxaway Artist Christina Ramsey. Christina has graciously donated some of her wonderful landscape and wildlife paintings to help support Earthshine Nature Programs--THANK YOU Christina! Check out some of the photos in this newsletter and Christina's website for examples of her beautiful works of art.

Tiny Turtle by Christina Ramsey.

This year we have teamed up with the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) and the Year of the Turtle initiative to bring to the forefront the problems that turtles everywhere are facing.

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Mountain Lodge and is 501c3 non profit charity. We work to conserve the Eastern box turtle and our native wildlife and educate YOU about why wildlife and wild places are so important. We are all volunteers and do not draw a salary so 100% of ALL donations support the daily operational costs of ENP and our education and conservation programs and they are also tax deductible. Check out the Earthshine Nature Programs website for information on all of our programs and our Nature Center.

SCHEDULE

1:00-2:00 Arrival and hors d'oeuvres in the Dining Hall and add your name to the soup pot for door prizes and sign up for the silent auction items. NOTE: You may purchase additional chances to win our unique door prizes for $1 per chance.

2:00-2:10 Welcome and Introduction by Steve

2:10-3:30 Sideshow and an overview of Earthshine Nature Programs and the Turtle Tracks project and its findings up to this point. Continue to sign up for silent auction items.

3:30-4:15 Steve will lead a "Meet the Animals" tour in the Nature Center and Box Turtle habitat so everyone can get acquainted with all of the center's amazing animals.

4:15-4:45 Steve will lead a Turtle Tracking Expedition (weather dependent) to locate one of the Eastern Box Turtles that he is currently tracking using radio telemetry techniques. After locating the turtle the relevant location and temperature data will be collected. This is a short easy hike in a field at the edge of a forest.

4:45-5:15 BREAK and more time to visit nature center and sign up for silent auction items.

5:15-6:30ish CLOSING and CONCERT

Steve will close the event with a few words, draw the winning door prizes, close the silent auction and then perform a unique didgeridoo concert around a bonfire on the mountain. Joining Steve will be didgeridoo master John Vorus and possibly Jason Alfrey with his drums so be sure to stay to hear the amazing and beautiful sounds generated by these ancient instruments. NOTE: The music and fellowship will continue until just after sunset so feel free to stay and enjoy the fire with us if you like. Note: employees and families of Earthshine Lodge are not eligible to receive free door prizes but they may purchase the $1 tickets and bid on silent auction items.

If you plan to attend our fundraiser/open house please RSVP by dropping us an email with the number in your party--thank you.

If you are unable to attend but would still like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please consider supporting us with a donation using the Pay Pal link below.

You may also donate by sending a check or supplies (see list below) directly to the address below:

Earthshine Nature Programs

Steve O'Neil Exec. Director

1600 Golden Road

Lake Toxaway, NC 28747

Please make checks payable to: Steve O'Neil Earthshine Nature Programs.

At Earthshine we teach the recycle and zero waste ethics and we would like to hold true to those ethics as much as possible in the nature center by using recycled and reused items in the construction and operation of the center. The items we are looking for are listed below. If you would care to donate any of these items (or any others) to the nature center please contact Steve at 828-606-8939. All items and monetary donations are now tax deductible. Just ask for a tax receipt and I will be happy to provide you with one for your records.

Items that that we currently need for the 2011 season are as follows:

Aquarium supplies such as air pumps, filters, lights, tops and hoods.

Reptile lights and heat strips, pads and rocks.

Heavy Duty extension cords and light timers.

Large dry erase whiteboard.

4 Holohil reptile transmitters. Please contact us for more information on these units.

1 Wildlife Materials Radio Telemetry Receiver TRX-1000WR Please contact us for more information on this unit.

Animal foods, filters, lights and habitat supplies. Contact us for more information on exactly what we need.

Dissection scopes or one digital dissection scope/microscope with USB attachment or USB microscope attachment.

1 new or slightly used desktop or laptop computer with a windows operating system. Preferably with a flat screen due to space constraints.

1 new or used color printer and ink cartridges.

1 new or used DVD player.

150' used or new Cat 5 LAN cable.

1 used or new data projector.

1 used minivan or enclosed utility style vehicle for use in our outreach programs. Four-wheel drive would be best due to the remote location of Earthshine and many of the schools we visit (must be in good running condition) Please--contact us if you think you would like to donate a vehicle to ENP.

You may also adopt (sponsor) a critter!

Yes, you can adopt (sponsor) one of the turtles that is currently living at the Earthshine R & R facility, one of the turtles that we are tracking in the wild or one of the critters that lives in the Earthshine Nature Center. There are two different sponsorship levels--FRIEND and PARTNER.

Friend level critter adoptions involve a contribution that may be in the form of a monetary donation that will be used to cover the costs of food, vitamins, veterinary care, housing and habitat maintenance for the resident critters at the Earthshine Nature Center and box turtle rehabilitation facility. If you choose to adopt a turtle that is being tracked in the field your donation will help cover the costs of equipment such as new radio transmitters, field notebooks, batteries etc. You may also donate new or used equipment--please contact us if you believe you have an item we could use.

Friend level adoption fees are as follows-but you may donate as much or as little as you like:

Children (up to 12) $20.00

College Students $40.00

Adults $60.00

When you adopt a critter you will receive:

*Adoption certificate with a photo of "your" critter.

*Your name will be posted on each critters individual website as one of the "guardians" of "your" critter.

*The knowledge that your adoption fee is money well and truly spent on the conservation of the wonderful box turtle and/or the care of one of our education animals.

PARTNER level adoptions. While FRIEND level critters can be adopted my multiple individuals, PARTNERS are special in that they are able to adopt a critter (turtle or snake), choose its name and then support its research and conservation for up to three years! Partner level adoptions are good for businesses, scout troops, school groups and other organizations willing to go the extra mile with a commitment to a genuine wildlife conservation project that is working to protect our native wildlife. About three years is the average lifespan of the transmitters that we use. A few months before the time the transmitter will need to be replaced we will notify you with the option to re-partner with us for another three years. The re-partner fee is 1/2 the price of the initial fee.

Partner level adoptions work as follows:

1. Contact us and let us know that you are interested in adopting a critter on the partner level.

2. Choose "your" critter (see below for critters that are available for Partner level adoption).

3. Give your critter a name (except for Jimmy – name already taken).

4: Pay your Partner adoption fee.

5. Receive your Partners packet with ENP t-shirt, adoption certificate and links to your critters websites.

6. Follow in your critters tracks in two ways--1. From the comfort of your own home in the form of periodic e-newsletters, blog updates on your critters personal website and Youtube videos of your critters status. 2. Visit Earthshine Mountain Lodge and we will take you on a field expedition to meet your critter in the wild for an up close and personal wildlife education and conservation experience. This is a wildlife conservation research project that follows strict scientific protocols. You will not be able to touch and/or hold the animal that you sponsor whenever you choose. This is because it is a wild animal and handling causes stress to the animal that can disrupt its natural movement and life patterns. If however you call ahead and plan to visit at just the right time--when we occasionally weigh the animal--you may be able to hold your animal long enough to have a quick photo made. Please email/call us in advance for more information if you plan to visit the Lodge and meet your critter.

Smoky Mountain Sunset by Christina Ramsey.

Partner Level fees are $800.00 per animal. Your fee pays for: 1 radio transmitter with a 2.5-3 year average life span and associated equipment, individual website/blog for your critter, ENP T-shirt, periodic youtube videos of your critter living its life in its natural habitat and VIP access to the Earthshine Nature Center.

When you adopt an animal at the partner level you will receive: a framed adoption certificate with a photograph of your animal, an Earthshine Nature Programs T-Shirt, your name/business/organizations name and/or logo will be posted on "your" critters individual website as the "guardians" of "your" critter, and the knowledge that your adoption fee is money well and truly spent on the conservation of "your" special animal.

*The knowledge that your adoption fee is money well and truly spent on the conservation of "your" special animal.

Partner Level animals currently up for adoption:

Jimmy Irwin We have been tracking Jimmy Irwin since 2008. He has a relatively new transmitter which will last another 1.5-2 years. If you choose to adopt Jimmy you will be able to follow in his tracks for the next 4-5 years! This is a great deal, so don't hide in your shell--strike out and bite it fast before it crawls away!

2 new Eastern Box Turtles--1 male and 1 female. These turtles will be located in the spring-summer of 2011 in the fields and forests at Earthshine Mountain Lodge. We will track them for several years and add their movement data to our ongoing turtle movement database.

1 Large rat snake. This snake is a long time resident of the woods and fields surrounding Earthshine Lodge and if he is adopted this year we will track his movements for the next few years in the hopes of learning more about the movements of a large rat snake who lives in close association with the folks who call Earthshine home.

Friend Level Turtles currently up for adoption are:

Tripod, Rose, Tiny, Woody, Rowdy, Bones, Mrs. Bones., Catherine, Meredith, Lefty, Clay, One-Eyed Willie, Ellie, Chewy, Stinky (Musk Turtle) and Lucky Longnecker (Snapping Turtle).

Other Nature Center critters up for adoption:

Indi (Blue Tongue Skink), Scar (Black ratsnake), King (Eastern Kingsnake), Xena (Albino Ratsnake), Noodles (Black Ratsnake), Josie (California Kingsnake), Sparkie (Leopard Gecko), Samwise (Cornsnake), Kah (Boa Constrictor), Gandalf (Canebrake Rattlesnake), Phoenix (American Toad), Jabba (American Toad), Frostbite (American Toad), Frank (Gray Treefrog), Lola (Gray Treefrog), Bubba Gump (Green Frog) and Gollum (Hellbender).

If you would like to adopt a critter or if you have any questions please drop me an email via the link below.


If you would like to make a donation or pay your adoption fee just click the Paypal link below. Please be sure your mailing address is correct so that we can send you your adoption packet. If you do not see a Paypal link just email us for more information.

FAQs

Under friend level each critter may be adopted by more than one person or organization.

Under partner level each critter may be adopted either by one person, one family or one organization.

Yes, you may donate directly to Earthshine Nature Programs without adopting a critter by simply clicking the donate button above.

If you would like a tax receipt for your records just indicate that you would like a receipt and include your name and mailing address with your donation and I will send you one ASAP.

NOTE #1. Adopting a critter at either friend or partner level does not guarantee that your animal will survive for the entire life of the transmitter. In other words, it may fall prey to natural predation from another animal, disease or old age. Should your animal meet an untimely end please understand that this is a natural process of which we have no control. NOTE: As of March 2011 we have only lost one animal that was not recovered. Mojo was lost in 2009 due to a malfunctioning transmitter. Although we brought in the Turtledogs we were unable to locate him because we believe he had moved out of the area.

NOTE #2. Your animal's transmitter may malfunction and it may be lost in the wild. Hopefully this will not happen because we are now using top of the line Holohil transmitters--but there is always the remote possibility that it could happen. If you are tracking a turtle and its transmitter fails before the projected end of its lifespan, we will work to bring in the Turtledogs in the attempt to find your missing animal. If you are following a snake and its transmitter fails there is little we can do to recover it.

Earthshine Nature Programs T-Shirts For Sale

Turtle Kids by Meredith Brooks.

The ongoing Turtle Tracks/ENP fundraiser is a new line of T-shirts and other unique items designed by Steve and sold on the Turtle Tracks/ENP Cafepress.com site.

Below is a photo of Steve's wife Marian wearing one of the Turtle Tracks T-shirts.


Click the above photo or the widget below to check out the Turtle Tracks Cafepress storefront where you can support the Turtle Tracks project by ordering a T-shirt, tank top, hoodie, coffee mug, mousepad, beer stein, calendar (updated for 2011) or even boxer shorts! NOTE: There are several different designs available so if you are interested in an item but would like a different design on it just contact me with your desired item and the logo that you would like and I will be happy to change the logo then email you with the link when it is ready to order.

Make Custom Gifts at CafePress

All proceeds from the sale of each of the Turtle Tracks/ENP items on the Turtle Tracks Cafepress storefront will be used to directly provide funds for

Earthshine Nature Programs and the Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle conservation, rehabilitation and education program based at Earthshine Mountain Lodge in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina USA.

Earthshine Nature Programs is now a member of GoodSearch.com! You can support us if you need to look up something on the internet. Just visit GoodSearch.com! put Earthshine Nature Programs in the "Who do you GoodSearch For?" box and GoodSearch will make a donation to ENP for each of your seraches! You can even add a Goodsearch toolbar to your computers browser and search directly from your browser!!

Tiny Turtle by Christina Ramsey.

Nature Notes: Bats are in Danger

USFWS photo.

Bats are not only the only flying mammal but they are also a beautiful, interesting and integral part of a healthy ecosystem because they consume thousands of insects every night during the warmer months of the year. Sadly, bats are being struck down by a deadly affliction called White-Nose Syndrome or WNS. It was discovered by a caver in the winter of 2006 near Albany New York and since then over one million hibernating bats have died. Biologists all over the country are scrambling to figure out the answer to this deadly curse that has targeted bats all over the East Coast.

Sick, dying and dead bats with the characteristic white fuzzy growth of fungi on their muzzles have been found in huge numbers in caves and mines from Tennessee to New Hampshire...and just this year WNS was found in North Carolina.

USFWS photo.

In some places where bats hibernate the death rate has been as high as 90-100%.

Infected bats are often low in weight, act strangely, have white patches of fungus on their muzzles (see photo above) and bodies and may even be seen flying during the day in the winter...when there are no insects to feed on.

Although countless biologists and other researchers have been working around the clock to try and find the source of WNS, the exact cause of this deadly bat plaque is unknown. One possible culprit has however been discovered--this organism is a fungus and its Latin name is Geomyces destructans. That is a name that should instantly tell you something about its nature--a destroyer of life.

There also seems to be a connection between caving activities by humans and the possible spread of the fungus. It may be possible that all one would have to do to spread the fungus is to visit a cave where the fungus is present, get some of the fungus on your clothing, then visit another cave thus infecting that cave and the bats therein with the deadly disease.

Cavers at Days End by Steve O'Neil.

I am a caver myself and I love to venture into the hidden depths of the earth and explore the unique and fragile underground ecosystem. However, since WNS was discovered I have been afraid to continue caving. In 2010 I learned from a NCWRC biologist friend of mine that WNS had been discovered in one of my favorite caves in East Tennessee and now that WNS has been found in North Carolina I am even more aware of how deadly this disease is to our bats. I greatly value bats and I do not want to see them vanish from this earth so I have vowed to stay out of caves and to teach people about the dangers of caving now that WNS is part of the picture. Until the day that either something can be done about WNS or until humans can be ruled out as a possible vector of the disease I will not venture into caves or mines.

Please, if you are a caver, learn all that you can about WNS and consider staying out of caves until a cure is found. Do it for the bats, do it for the future.

Learn more about WNS on the

US Fish and Wildlife Services website.

If you intend to continue caving despite the WNS problem please take the appropriate precautions and protocols as outlined on this page.

Read more about WNS in North Carolina on this page.

Read and interesting article about the strange similarities between WNS and the Chytrid fungus that is killing amphibians.

Here's a new puzzle and it is a hard one--Hibernating Ladybugs! I was exploring a massive rock face and found a cache of hibernating ladybugs--there were hundreds of them in the crack all huddled together waiting for spring to arrive. Very Cool!!

NOTE: If the puzzle does not appear after a few seconds you may need to update your computers flash player or java.

For more puzzles, games and other fun stuff be sure to check out the Earthshine Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks

Kid Zone Page!

Earthshine Staff Spotlight

This issue's spotlight is on our very own Moriah Geer-Hardwick! Moriah is an amazing digital artist and I just wanted to show off his work here in the newsletter. Below is one of my favorite of his works entitled Kung-Fu Dragon. Maybe one day Moriah will create a "Kung Fu Hellbender" or "Fung Fu Turtle" and when he does I will be sure to post it here in the newsletter...and maybe on a T-shirt...who knows. Way to go Mo!

For More of Moriah's amazing art and photography check out his website

Within The Mechanism

A Tribute to Discovery

NASA photo.

I am not only a Nature Nerd but I am also a HUGE fan of NASA and the space program. At an early age I became interested in science and space, probably due watching all those reruns of the original Star Trek, then the Star Wars saga, Battlestar Galactica and even Space 1999(remember that one) and to this day I am still a huge fan of science fiction movies and TV--especially those dealing with space travel and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

NASA photo.

What started as a fascination with the unknown has grown into a love and appreciation of how important and how fragile the connection between terrestrial nature and the nature of space beyond our pale blue dot really is.

NASA photo.

Space is the nature that supports the Sun, the Earth, the planets and the galaxy that we all know and rely on for our very survival...and space is raw nature at its grandest...it is truly the Final Frontier.

NASA photo.

I have followed the space program since the first shuttle launch which I watched in my 5th grade classroom, standing at attention with my hand over my heart and my eyes wide and full of wonder at the possibilities of the dreams I had seen on TV and the movies coming true. I also remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia had been destroyed. Sad days indeed but we all know the price we must pay for exploration.

NASA photo.

The video below is a great tribute to the Space Shuttle Discovery which has just completed its final voyage into the heavens and to the completion of the International Space Station.

Thank you NASA and Discovery for taking us all where no man has gone before.

Finally, in honor of the final voyage of the Space Shuttle Discovery, William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek television series, provided this special message to the crew of space shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 Flight Day 12 wakeup call--enjoy.

Former NASA Astronaut Fred Leslie jumps from an aircraft as Discovery lifts off behind him. Image via the Huntsville Times, courtesy of Fred and Kathy Leslie.

Check out this Universe Today article for more interesting views of the last Discovery launch.

THANK YOU ALL

The items listed below have been donated (D) or purchased (P) through funds generated by donations and adoption fees!! THANK YOU to all who have contributed to the Turtle Tracks program. THANK YOU also to all of you who I have not mentioned who have donated time and funds to this project.

2011

2011 Fundraiser Assistance(D) Thank You! Dave Ward, Christina Ramsey, Catherine O'Neil, Earthshine Mountain Lodge staff and the local businesses who have contributed to make this happen!

1 Panasonic 27" TV(D). Thank You! Jason and Tana Alfrey!

1 Canebrake Rattlesnake("Gandalph") and aquarium powerhead(D). Thank You Mandy Jordan of the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC.

2010

New Holohil radio Transmitters for all of the wild turtles that we are currently tracking (P). Thank you, Billy and Gail, Meredith and Mary Beth and Mr. Ryan.

All supplies needed to create the Ratsnake Skyway habitat(P). Thank You Mr. Ryan, Marian O'Neil and Earthshine Lodge.

1 125 gallon aquarium for the new Hellbender habitat (D). Thank You Sarah Shute!

Legal Services(P/D). Thank You Plowden Hall Law Firm!

1 75 gallon Aquarium, 1 large custom reptile enclosure and many assorted aquarium and reptile husbandry supplies now being used in the Nature Center(D). Thank You Lisa.

1 100 gallon Aquarium with filter system(P). Thank You Fish and Pets!

1 lab sink and cabinet and assorted veterinary supplies(D). Thank You Animals R Us!

Assorted aquatic habitat items(D). Thank You Team E.C.C.O!

1 75 gallon aquarium and turtle supplies(D). Thank You Tammy Garland!

Assorted aquarium habitat items, photos and professional advice(D). Thank You Steve Atkins!

Assorted Veterinary supplies and services(D). Thank You Haywood Animal Clinic and North State Animal Clinic!

Hemostats(D). Thank you Dr. Roeder!

1 microscope(D). Thank You Dr. McCall!

1 large load of used roofing tin for the Rowdy with Reptiles project(D). Thank You Falling Creek Camp for Boys!

2009

1 Sony Handicam used to record turtle locates and the Wild Adventures with Steve Youtube.com videos(P). Thank you to everyone who purchased Turtle Tracks Fundraiser geocoins!

1 Telonics RA 14K VHF directional antenna from Telonics.com currently in use tracking the wild study turtles(P). Thank you Meredith and Mary Beth!

1 Used Dell laptop computer with a windows XP operating system(D). Thank You Meredith and Mary Beth!!!

Professional advice and support and educational supplies(D). Thank You Ann Berry Somers of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro!

2008

6 Telenax radio transmitters for use tracking the wild turtles. 1 Garmin GPSmap76 for marking turtle locations, 1 Taylor soil thermometer and 1 Speedtech pocket weather station for collecting weather/temperature/humidity/wind speed data at each location(P). Thank you Alan and Regina, Meredith, Mary Beth, Billy and Gail and Catherine O'Neil!

1 LaCrosse Technology Professional Weather Station(P). Used to monitor the overall weather conditions of the Earthshine study site. View the real time data from this unit online by clicking HERE Thank you Billy and Gail!!!

2007

1 large caliper(P). Used for taking accurate shell measurements. Thank you Billy and Gail!!!

1 Pesola Spring Scale for weighing turtles(P). Thank you Carrie Arrowood and Michael Arrowood!!!

Epoxy and paint for attaching transmitters(P). Thank you Karen!!!

1 Triangular file for marking new turtles(P). Thank you Jessica!!!

1 AVM radio transmitter(P). First used to track Mr. Bones for 2.5 years and now used to teach children about wildlife research and conservation in our outreach programs. Thank you Billy and Gail!!!

2007-2011

Grants for schools from WILD SOUTH(D). Thank You John Edwards and Wild South. www.wildsouth.org

Donated Professional Veterinary services for injured wildlife(D). Thank You Haywood Animal Clinic!

Donated professional minting services(D). Thank You Aaron Weed at Coins and Pins! www.coinsandpins.com

Professional Turtle locating services(P/D). Thank you John Rucker, Karen Judge and the Turtledogs!! www.turtledogs.org

1 40 gallon reptile enclosure with locking top and many assorted reptile supplies and food and 1 microscope(D/P). Thank You Charlie Green of Turtle Talks! www.turtletalks.com

Musical talent(D). Thank You to the Steep Canyon Rangers! www.steepcanyon.com

Musical talent(D). Thank you to John Mason! www.blueridgebreezes.com

2010-2011 Musical talent(D). Thank You John Vorus! www.johnvorus.com

Volunteer turtle tracking and business advice(D). Thank You Meredith Brooks and friends!

Professional advice and services(D). Thank You Lori Williams and Gabrielle Graeter, Field Biologists with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission!

Thank You to those of you who donated anonymously at the Sherwood Forest turtle seminar in August of 2008!

Thank you to those I erroneously left out and to everyone who donated anonymously to ENP and to the Turtle Tracks project.

Special thanks to Billy and Gail Hagler, Meredith Brooks and Mary Beth Wallace for all of your generous support over all the years(D)! This project would not have been possible without all that you have done to make it happen!

Special Thanks to Marian O'Neil, Catherine O'Neil, Lee and Sandi Kisselburg, Joe and Kelli Duckett, the Laws Family and Padraig. Thank You all for all of your moral support and for putting up with my naturalist's ways all these years.

Many of you may have talked with me about box turtles and other reptiles and amphibians during your visit to Earthshine Lodge. Some of you may have even attended a turtle tracking expedition searching for one of the turtles that have tiny radio transmitters attached to their shells or an evening frog walk down to the pond. These hikes and programs are all part of Earthshine Nature Program's wildlife conservation-based educational programs which are donation-funded by folks just like you. Several times per year the Earthshine Nature Programs staff put together fundraisers to raise money to cover the operational costs of the Turtle Tracks program. Without your generous support and critter adoptions these wonderful wildlife conservation projects and the new nature education center would not be possible.

STEVE'S NATURE LINKS AND LORE

Check out Earthshine Naturalist Steve's favorite nature links and reptile lore page by clicking here.


Check out the Earthshine Nature World Wildlife News for wildlife news from all over the planet.

Read about Steve's previous Eastern box turtle research experiences HERE.

Do you mow your grass or fields on a semi-regular basis? If you do you may be endangering box turtles. Read more about how you can help box turtles on your land.

Check out this page if you are you interested in ideas on how you can provide more homes and habitat for box turtles and other wildlife on your land.

NATURE NOTE: This newsletter is GREEN! The Earthshine Nature Department chose to produce this newsletter in a website-based format for several reasons: 1. It saves trees and energy! Paper newsletters are made from paper and paper is made from trees so making it an e-newsletter saves trees! 2. It saves energy. Making a paper newsletter uses loads of electricity during the editing, printing and delivery phase. 3. It saves resources such as printer ink, staples, tape, stamps and the fuel the postman would use to deliver it to your mailbox. 4. It saves money! It costs far less to produce than a paper newsletter. 5. It has full color, snappy graphics and interactive features that you just can't find in a paper newsletter. 6. All back issues will always be available in the newsletter archive if you would like to read them again one day. The only bad thing about an e-newsletter is that you can't use it to line your birdcage when you have finished reading it. ;-) Enjoy!

Sign up for the Earthshine Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter and receive regular email updates on all of the nature related events at Earthshine, updates on the status of the Turtle Tracks conservation project and turtle and wildlife news and trivia from around the world! Newsletters will be in the form of a periodic email with a link to this web based newsletter so sign up now it's fun, free and educational--what more could you ask for!

Questions or comments or to add or remove your name from our mailing list, please CLICK HERE Thank You!

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If you have read this far then you must be a NATURE NERD like me. Thank you for reading and please remember to go outside as much as possible but always remember Steve's Wild Disclaimer:

Nature is a WILD place with all of its WILD components and should you decide to go outside you must remember that you will be trekking into WILD areas with all of their wild components--some (but not all) of which are listed below.

You may encounter living wild creatures with their own agendas. No matter your perceived status, beauty, machismo, power and achievements in the "human" world you are nothing to them (well, except possibly food!). Most of these creatures have "super powers" and are "smarter" (aka: instinct) than you are so you will never see them. They will know you are coming long before you arrive by your odd smell, noisy heavy gait, loud voice and unusual coloration--they just want us to think we "scared" them off--you will smell, hear or if you're lucky catch a fleeting glimpse of...something. Some of these creatures may or may not hurt you--but if you corner any of them they WILL defend themselves with whatever means they have--tooth, claw, fang, venom, sting, musk, "hurl" and so on! These creatures will leave something behind them that we naturalists call scat (ie: poo, poop, excrement, sugar, droppings, turd, doo, doo doo, dung, guano, fertilizer, feces, fecal matter, pellets, log, crap, plop, glop, pile, load, hunk, squirt, effluent, ****, oooze...etc...) this may be fresh or sun bleached...the fresh variety may be accompanied by a rather unpleasant odor (caused by very small particles--molecules--of the before mentioned substance that are carried by air currents into the atmosphere and then into direct contact with your Olfactory Epithelium--yuck!) so WATCH OUT! Often, if you poke a stick at scat in just the right way you will be able to determine what type of creature left it there and just what that creature had eaten for its last meal!! WOW-ain't nature grand!--if you have any questions about some scat, hair, teeth, bones or any other part of a critter alive or not that you find--you can feel free to save it in a baggie and mail it to me and I will help you ID it's owner.

Plants (and some things that impersonate--er--should the PC term for that be implantonate or imbotonate...hmmm--plants but are not plants) --these things are usually green but sometimes in the case of Funji (which are not plants nor animals but space creatures from the planet Mycelia ;-) they could be any color, and just about everywhere--even in the water! Some are pretty, some small and taste good and some others will kill you if you eat them (know these well if you plan to eat "random" plants/fungi for fun and nourishment as I do)! There are also some plants that will make you itch and/or bleed--it helps to know these well also! You may encounter a yellow powdery substance we primates call pollen--it is a by-product of the endless love making of many plants--this plant spawn may make some of you sneeze, itch and cough and leak bodily fluids from various orifices--and possibly even visit the human "healer" who usually end up giving you a concoction that oddly enough is made from--plants.

There will be dirt, mud (wet dirt), sand (an aggregate of tiny rocks) which is often found in dirt and mud and/or on the edges of continents and near bodies of water), **if sand and water mix in the correct ratios then you may encounter quicksand--although shouldn't it be called slowsand since you don't sink fast?**, flotsam and jetsam (whatever the heck that is?) Rocks (big hunks of sand or small hunks of mountain*)--watch out for these things--you may trip on them and fall down (but they can be used as TOOLS if you know what you are doing!) You may suddenly or gradually--depending on your locale (your GPSr should give you this)--encounter: uneven ground or rough surfaces (that may cause you to fall down and/or abrade your skin), heat(radiation (off-givings) from the sun (see below) or from rotting plants), cold(the lack of radiation from the sun), wet water (that becomes hard and cold in the colder times) and OH MY--this often will fall unpredictably from the sky (that blue, gray, black, red, yellow, purple or green area that is above your head when you are in the outside) and if you are not prepared it will make you and your coverings WET--GASP!! Sometimes you may encounter this wet water gathered together in large quantities either in motion or still. Sometimes it may have a high concentration (lots of) of salt, dirt, mud, silt, scat (human and/or animal) and/or toxic chemicals (especially if found near human aggregation areas) so don't try to drink it if you are unsure of its source...it is however most enjoyable to play in (i.e.: frolic, cavort, rough-and-tumble, surf, swim, SCUBA dive, leap...) when the weather (see weather below) is nice. Dryness--in combination with the wind may chap exposed skin. Sand (previously described), is often encountered near water and will make you itch and/or chaff if you get it in your nether-regions or cry if you get it in your eyes. Wind (see also air below)--this is an amazing invisible and incredibly powerful force of nature that can float a feather (bird protection, courtship and propulsion device) or destroy a mountain* (aggregate of almost everything that is or once was or is going to be) (with the help of sand and water) and may chap exposed skin and disturb carefully placed hair or steal your breath and blow you over, air (see also wind above)--like wind this is also invisible and could be anywhere from hot to warm or cool to cold and it may be still or moving so fast (wind) that you will not be able to stand up--this is called a storm, storms are often accompanied by bright flashes of light called lightening (generated by clouds rubbing together and against the earth) followed by loud, earth shaking sounds that come from an unseen source--this is commonly referred to as thunder (which is the sound of lightening splitting the air and wind and sometimes trees, rocks and houses and cows) --when this is near you should hide--but not on top of a hill or you may die (the opposite of life). Weather--a combination of many of the factors present here (see above and below). This is entirely unpredictable unless you believe what the NWS tells you. Sometimes you will see a very bright disk overhead but don't look directly at it as it will damage your eyes--this is the sun (a gigantic star that is very close to the Earth. It, with the help of the plants, fungi, animals, air, water, the Earth (dirt, mud, sand, rocks...) makes all life possible on this planet). Although life giving it may also cause red burns on your exposed skin so bring your protective devices and chemicals. Often there is a lack of light accompanied by a large glowing disk (or a percentage of said disk) in the sky and countless tiny glowing points of light that are pleasant to look at (unless you are in a human aggregation area called a city). During this lack of light time you will need to bring your own source of illumination ie: anything from a pine-knot torch to a Swiss Army style 1,000,000,000,000 Candle Power LED solar/geothermal/kinetically charged, waterproof, floating, searchlight with included self sharpening high carbon steel knife set and chain saw, spork, scissors, corkscrew, 1 micron water filter, green laser pointer/photonic disruptor, weather station, solar charged/dual fuel fire starter, pocket bio-diesel refinery, 2,000LB capacity winch and rocketing grappling hook w/100 feet of 1/4" galvanized steel cable, solar calculator, voice activated wireless hands free data storage and filing device with 1000TB storage capacity and 3D holographic HUD visor loaded with all bio-ID/topographic maps and GPS data for the entire planet earth and the solar system, MP3 player w/10TB storage capacity, 500,000 volt Taser with 50 foot range and reusable projectiles, refillable ink pen, self-cleaning hand towel, toilet paper dispenser with recycle option, and PEZ dispenser. Whatever your light source your diurnally adapted eyesight will then be augmented and hopefully you will not fall down and contact the ground or lack thereof (see above for description) with its associated hazards.

Often you may hear unpredictable sounds created from unknown sources some of these may be creepy (scary, frightening, unnerving) , some may be pleasant (pleasing, happy, jovial), some may be loud (see thunder above)...and sometimes these loud sounds will scare you (make you jump or run uncontrollably) or hurt your ears!

Finally, you may encounter other beings like yourself--often with their companion animals and smaller versions of themselves--as well as their associated mechanical and electrical constructs. These are BY FAR the most dangerous and destructive creatures you will ever encounter so WATCH OUT!

In all seriousness folks, enjoy these things and your times spent "out there" because as Edward Abbey wrote so perfectly:

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by computers, I promise you this:

you will outlive them all.

So always remember to go outside and play and that when you head out there adventuring in the natural world--you will encounter plenty of random unplanned events--so be ready for them as they are the things that make life worth living!

Please contact us by clicking the bottle below if you have any questions about Earthshine Nature or Turtle Tracks, would like to adopt a turtle, make a donation or if you would like to use any of our pictures. Thank you.


GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!

"Hungry Coyote" by Susan Davis

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Mountain Lodge and is 501c3 non profit charity. We work to conserve the Eastern box turtle and our native wildlife and educate YOU about why wildlife and wild places are so important. We are all volunteers and do not draw a salary so 100% of ALL donations support the daily operational costs of ENP and our education and conservation programs and they are also tax deductible. Check out the Earthshine Nature Programs website for information on all of our programs and our Nature Center.

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