We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, July 21. 2011
Living in my new home state of South Carolina, I’ve come across some really interesting history. The story of building the Dreher Shoals dam impounding the Saluda River and creating Lake Murray is a real story of trial, error, engineering expertise and perseverance. Built to provide electric power to Columbia and a large section of South Carolina, the lake and it’s watershed is under the control of South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G).
In addition to the interesting and varied flora and fauna, Lake Murray has a very interesting military history. Due to its rather unique layout, it was considered by General Jimmy Doolittle to be the perfect place to practice bombing runs prior to the raid on Tokyo. The target was Lunch Island – a small, 10 acre former hilltop located just south of the mid-line of the lake. Flying out of Owens Field in Columbia, the B-25s would circle North and start their runs from the North West. The United Stated Navy also used to practice torpedo runs on Lunch Island. Eventually, Lunch Island became Bomb Island and that name has stuck.
Post WWII and up until the mid-60’s, Bomb Island was partially used for recreational purposes – picnics and such. SCE&G would burn off the island occasionally to keep the brush down. It was around this time that Mother Nature decided that she would take control of Bomb Island during the summer and give it over to a bird called the Purple Martin.
The Purple Martin is a member of the swallow family and is the largest of the North American Swallows. It is primarily an insect eater and has the ability to maneuver like a fighter plane when munching down on mosquito’s, dragonflies, moths and other morsels it finds edible. Their migration pattern starts in early July to fly overland down through
What is also unique about the Purple Martin at least in the Eastern US is that they seem to have made
I witnessed this entirely by accident on Monday evening. I was out on the lake planning on taking some sunset pictures over Spencer and
It starts about ten minutes before sunset – you see one or two swallows swooping along the water, zipping up in the air and back down again. Eventually, one or two become ten or twenty, then a couple of hundred.
Eventually, they mass above the island in a cloud of birds – it is simply an amazing sight as they form these huge vortexes of swirling birds. They swoop down onto the island and they back up again doing this a couple of times before it gets dark and they settle down on the island with a few stragglers coming in behind the main group. This image is about 1/8th of the island and the birds above it. I apologize for the lousy image but I was using a long lens wide open at 1600 ISO to get the shot. I’ll try and get a better one next time I go out there in the evening.
It is estimated that there are anywhere from 750,000 to 1,000,000 birds on the island over night at the peak of the season. There are so many birds that they have shown up on radar images from
It’s an amazing show Mother Nature puts on over
Oh, just to put paid to the evening, I got this image – it was quite an evening.
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We see mass gatherings of Tree Swallows on Cape Cod in August. Also seen them in Jamaica Bay in NYC. They gather, post-breeding and pre-migration.
Even saw an albino Tree Swallow amongst the thousands one time.
Really - a white one? That's rare.
I used to see barn swallows a lot in the neighboring farms at the old homestead in CT, but nothing like the sheer numbers of birds I saw Monday. There was one point where the sky was solid black with swirling birds. An incredible sight to be sure.
Whereabouts in S.C. are you? I grew up in Edgefield County, about a hour drive Southwest of Columbia in the direction of Augusta, Georgia. Worth a day trip; Edgefield, the county seat, is a small town packed with a whole lot of history. Do a little web searching on it. Here's a link to the town paper -- the office is right on the square. If you poke your head in and tell 'em your visiting, they'll probably offer to take your picture and put it in the next issue!!
Gotta love small towns huh? :>)
I'm over right on Lake Murray - the North or Irmo side.
We're still getting to know the area. My Daughter-In-Law is a native Midlander and she goes with us on tours. I'll have to make that trip a priority - thanks for the tip.
There's a street in San Jose called Stardust Lane. Since I first noticed it years ago, I've always thought it would be cool to live on a street with such a hauntingly beautiful name.
But, after this article, I've changed my ways.
I now want to live on Bomb Island.
Now that's cool.
Great article, Cap'n. I especially liked the sunset pic at the end. Hell, I wasn't even sure if a podunk state like S.C. had sunsets -- I thought it might be too small for the sun to notice. So, at least in this one way, it's good to know you're staying up with the rest of the country.
S.C. also appears to be a big vacation getaway for my fellow Floridians, like the way Californians hoof it up to Tahoe. The appeal seems to be these "hill" things people keep talking about, but when you live in a state where the highest elevation is 12 feet above sea level, it's kind of a hard concept to grasp. I take it the reason people like these "hill" things is because they're a cooler clime than the steaming fetid swamp we live in, but that doesn't seem to make any sense because they're closer to the sun, so therefore they'd be hotter.
O, sweet mysteries of life!
Those "hill" things are called - um...hills. And while yes, you are closer to the sun, you are also at a higher altitude so the air is cooler.
Nice to know that at least one Floridian recognizes the swamp like nature of their state. Well, except for the Keys I guess. Which, by the way, is a place I would move to in a heart beat - in particular Key West. I love that town.
Austin has a sort of cult of the Purple Martin going --just did this Bing to see the # hits --27 million --
Folks --who knows who --put up odd signs all over town in the season --just a small ''purple martin'' two words, or silhouette graphics --gives the Millennials the creeps --they think it's sinister. I have to remind the youngest how long this has been happening --at least since i was at UT back in the 1860s-70s
Holy smoke Buddy - you're 151 years old? Who knew there even was a UT back then.
The things you learn around here.
i'm a young 151, tho. And i meant UT's Livery & Dance Hall. Ut Jones, who once got caught stealing a hog. It was dark, and he got out of it by putting his hat and coat on the hog and telling the sheriff it was his brother. Sheriff was asking his name when the hog oinked and farted. Later back in town the sheriff told his deputy, "that Oink Jones is the ugliest, rudest sonofagun I believe I ever met."
That's a good one.
Oink Jones - HA!!
Which reminds me of a joke...
A panda walks into a bar and orders a beer and a hamburger. After he eats he stands up stretches and pulls out a gun shooting everyone in the room but the bartender.
The panda puts $20 on the bar and turns to leave. As he walks out the door the bartender asks why the panda shot everyone.
The panda tells him to look in the encyclopedia. The bartender looks up panda and he reads "Panda: Large black and white mammal native to China. Eats shoots and leaves."!
So Buddy was a student at UT before there was a UT, as UT was founded in 1883.
Cap'n Tom, that is one beautiful evening photo. Glad to hear you escaped the Woodstock mosquitos. :)
BTW, Edgefield was Strom's hometown.