Black Mountain - The Annual Crab Spider-a-thon

Black Mountain macro
Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)
All photos by my beautiful wife, Kelli Lewis-Sutherland.

My wife and her best friend, Laurel Abernathy have an annual tradition of visiting the Black Mountain segment of the Cumberland Trail yearly in late August or early September so that they can photograph crab spiders.

Many years ago they discovered that the swaths of Maryland golden-aster (Chrysopsis mariana) growing alongside the trail there are also home to the adorable goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia). Approximately one in ten of the flowers has a little white or yellow spider hiding and waiting for its next meal.

Ghost pipe
Ghost pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
We were guaranteed to get our best photos yet, because we now have a Canon EF100mm f/2.8L macro lens and a ring flash. For a little less than a year, we've been experimenting and learning from this combination and have taken lots of pretty decent macros of tiny critters and flowers.

We met up with Laurel and her daughter at the trailhead at 10am and proceeded to very slowly walk towards the tower. This part of the trail is mowed annually, and its lack of forest canopy, while making us quite warm and possibly sunburnt, is the perfect niche ecosystem for the flowers and spiders we are looking for.

Without wasting any time, we started finding spiders in profuse numbers. Soon we've all seen dozens of them, and other insects provided interesting breaks from crab spider-ing.

Being mostly support for this mission, as Kelli had the macro lens, I focused on taking photos for submission to iNaturalist with my cell phone and camera, as well as track logging our short hike. Below is a quick ArcGIS Online map of where we hiked and what we observed. Click here for a full screen view of the map.

Black Mountain macro Ambush bug (Phymata fasciata) Jumping Spider (Salticinae) Eastern Calligrapher (Toxomerus geminatus) Eastern Calligrapher (Toxomerus geminatus) Black Mountain macro Black Mountain macro Eastern Calligrapher (Toxomerus geminatus) Common Tree Crickets (Genus Oecanthus) Crab spider with fly Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) Black Mountain macro Black Mtn macro Phymata fasciata Crab spider Black Mtn Macro Crab spider Wasp (maybe Gnamptopelta obsidianator) Spotted Apatelodes Moth (Apatelodes torrefacta) Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) eating cicada Ghost pipe


Burgess Falls State Park

Burgess Falls, Burgess Falls State Park, White County, Tennessee 15

Burgess Falls State Park is a beautiful place to visit, and I'm excited to tell you about it!

The park is located in middle Tennessee, about 12 miles southwest of Cookeville. It's home to four waterfalls that cascade down over 250 feet in elevation through Missisippian, Devonian, and Ordovician rocks. The falls are surrounded by lush forests, abundant wildlife, and beautiful exposed geology in the form of riverscour and cliffs, making it a great place to go hiking, fishing, and camping. This is the kind of park that you can be comfortable bringing kids, or your grandma to.

The final waterfall, Burgess Falls (proper) is only accessible from below. One has to take a boat from Center Hill Lake to get to the base of Burgess Falls. If you don't have a boat or kayak, do not worry. Several outfitters run trips there throughout the year, and especially so in the summer.

In the late 19th century, a gristmill and sawmill were built on the Falling Water River, which runs through the park. The river was also used to generate hydroelectric power for the city of Cookeville from 1928 to 1944. In 1973, the territory was designated a Tennessee State Natural Area, protecting the diverse forest and aquatic habitats. The park is now managed by Tennessee State Parks, and it's open to the public year-round.

Window Cliffs SNA & Burgess Falls SP If you're looking for a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, I highly recommend Burgess Falls State Park. It's a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the natural beauty of Tennessee.

Here are some things you can do at Burgess Falls State Park:

• Hike the trails to the waterfalls.
• Go fishing in the Falling Water River.
Camp in one of the park's campgrounds.
• Have a picnic at one of the park's picnic areas.
• Visit the park's visitor center to learn more about the park's history and natural resources.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Burgess Falls State Park!

Little Falls, Burgess Falls SP, Putnam County, Tennessee 3 Little Falls, Burgess Falls SP, Putnam County, Tennessee 2Falling Water Cascades, Burgess Falls State Park, Putnam County, Tennessee 2Little Falls, Burgess Falls SP, Putnam County, Tennessee 1

Tennessee State Buildings

Tennessee State Capitol Building

The Tennessee State Capitol is a sight to behold, built in the Greek Revival style that was all the rage in the 19th century. It's one of the largest state capitol buildings in the country, and it's made of beautiful limestone that was quarried right here in Tennessee. Look carefully and you can even see Ordovician fossils in the stone! The capitol is home to a number of important historical artifacts, including the original cornerstone and the Speaker's chair that was used by Andrew Jackson. It's a popular tourist destination, and it's open to the public for tours. If you're ever in Nashville, be sure to stop by the Tennessee State Capitol and take a look around.

Tennessee State Capitol, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee 1 Tennessee State Capitol, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee 3 Tennessee State Capitol, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee 5

The War Memorial Building

The War Memorial Building is a beautiful and historic building that was built in 1925 as a memorial to the Tennessee soldiers who died in World War I. It's located in the heart of downtown Nashville, right across from the Tennessee State Capitol. The building is designed in the Greek Doric order, and it has a Doric-columned atrium as its focal point. Engraved into the west and north walls are the names of 3,400 Tennesseans who gave their lives in World War I. A statue entitled “Victory” by Nashville sculptor Belle Kinney sits in the center of the atrium.

The War Memorial Building has served as a home to a variety of events over the years, including concerts, plays, and political rallies. It was also the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1939 to 1943. Today, the War Memorial Building is a popular tourist destination and is open to the public for tours. It's a beautiful and historic building that is a reminder of the sacrifices that have been made for our country.

War Memorial Plaza, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee 2

The Tennessee State Office Building

The Tennessee State Office Building is a handsome Art Deco building that was built in 1940. It's located in the heart of downtown Nashville, just a few blocks from the Tennessee State Capitol. The building is 10 stories tall and is made of limestone and brick. It has a distinctive stepped facade and a large, arched entranceway.

The Tennessee State Office Building houses a variety of state government offices, including the offices of the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Comptroller of the Treasury. It also houses the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The building is open to the public for tours.

The Tennessee State Office Building is a fine example of Art Deco architecture. It's a beautiful and historic building that is an important part of the state's government and history.

Tennessee State Office Building, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee


Blogging Activity

By my best guess I have been maintaining a blog since 1998 when I graduated high school. My oldest post which I still have a de-published record of dates to 5/22/2001. The regularity of posts here have come and gone, but this virtual space has somehow managed to remain the center of my online presence, outlasting MySpace, Flickr, Facebook, and Reddit as a home where I share my content. In the last few years I've been writing more, and creating more multimedia content that is suitable for a blog format. I've also been learning new tools, specifically Google Sheets, which I can use to develop dynamic data tables, charts, and visualizations. Below, I turn those tools inwards to look at the blog itself and view temporal trends on my production of blog posts.

In the period of time between 2005 and 2014, I was producing approximately 3.5 posts a year. In actuality, I was producting far more, but few of those are appropriate for the audience I have sought to cultivate, so I have de-published them. After 2014, I've written approximately 15.4 posts year.