Bays Mountain Park, located in Kingsport, TN, has 22 miles of hiking trails throughout its 3,500 acres. We had expected to spend time walking around the 44-acre lake in the park and attending a program in the Planetarium.
When we arrived, we learned that the nature programs are scheduled for the afternoons, the wolf programs are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the barge rides are also offered in the afternoon. The Planetarium was closed for the summer.
So, . . . we began our self-directed walk around the areas housing deer, river otter, birds, and wolves.
We did not realize until later how lucky we were to find one of the river otters feeding on some fish. One of the volunteers said that he had been working Mondays for several weeks and had not seen the otters outside their houses.
But when we saw the wolves, we were mesmerized. Getting as close as we could and looking them in the eye was an experience that we wished we could have captured on "film."
They are magnificent animals. Kate felt very fortunate to have obtained this photo.
We met two of the volunteers in the aviary and learned that all the people caring for the animals and presenting educational programs are volunteers. All the birds (including the red-tail hawk above) are taken out of the cages and taken into the office for stimulation time every day.
Chia, a very smart black vulture, uses the time to play with a golf ball and will make up games with stones. Chia had imprinted on humans so would not be able to survive in the wild. All the animals cannot be returned to the wild. Bobu, the Great Horned Owl in another cage, has cataracts in both eyes.
Chia's behavior of spreading the wings is done to expose as much of its body as possible to the warmth of the sun.
We finished our walk past the amphitheater where educational programs during the week-long day camps for kids were held.
Not what we had expected, but we had a walk that connected us to nature nonetheless.