Friday, June 12, 2015

Diamondback Terrapins get help

Meet a Diamondback Terrapin. Doesn’t she have a sweet face? Why do I say she? Keep reading.

 I have been following the valiant efforts to help these special turtles headed up by our own Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC). We learn a lot more about sea turtles and other turtles because the GSTC is working to save these animals since 2007.

Terrapin laying her eggs
What make Diamondback Terrapin special? They are the only turtle that live in the salt marsh. But Terrapins have a problem. From late April through July, female terrapins are coming out of the marsh to find that high ground to lay their egg. Earlier I ask the question why she, well most of these terrapins we see are female. There is a major problem for these ladies terrapins is the highest places are our roads.

For several years, the GSTC has been studying this problem, and they have made some progress.

Becca and her team showing Jekyll visitor the Terrapins
Meet Becca, you will see her out on the Jekyll Island causeway working on helping these ladies out. GSTC put up caution signs along the causeway. The signs at the beginning and end of the causeway have flashing lights. Those lights flash around high tide when these terrapins are most likely to cross the road. It signals us to slow down and watch for them. Still some terrapins get hurt. Becca is out there to help. The one she can help safely across the road will never know they were in danger. The ones that get run over but are still alive, she takes them to the center where they try and save them. If they cannot be saved, the eggs are taken and put in an incubator. The hatched Terrapins will be released back into the marsh when they are ready. It is a busy time right now for Becca and her team. They are out every day.

Becca also is tracking these terrapins.
She is putting notches or recording the notches, she finds on the Terrapins. We learn so much about these terrapins because of the work of the GSTC.

this Terrapin was run over  but was treated by GSTC and released
Here are two different Terrapins that were helped across the road.  One had already be hit and treated at the Center and the other had been bitten by something and escaped.  But look at how beautifully marked she is.
something bite this terrapin
Thank you Georgia Sea Turtle Center. If you are anywhere on the southeast Atlantic coast, please slow down let all help these fertile turtles on the go.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

David's Garden

This is a little bit of an departure for me but here goes.
During my battle with Breast Cancer, the chemo did it number on the cancer but it made me weak. Still almost everyday, I would try to walk down a few houses to visit David's garden.  It just inspired me to get up and get out.  So I want to share his garden with you.  I am also working on my yard to look kind of like his garden.  I really love the Dune Sunflowers that will bloom all summer.  See

Here is another view
Wish me luck.
Also I want to share a blog with you.  My friend Debbie is also showing off the beauty of our Wild Georgia Coast. Here is the link:

Enjoy, I am off to meet the TALON group. Talon stands for Teen Adventures Learning Ornithology and Nature.  They are going to looking for the Wilson's Plovers.  That is always fun.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Wilson Plovers chick May 26 Yea!

Yesterday, May 26, 2015, Yank Moore, Jekyll Island Authority's wildlife coordinator, found a new Wilson Plover's nest with 2 hatchlings.  I was invited to go along to watch these Wilson's Plover chicks get their color bands.  Thanks to Elizabeth Hunter for banding them.

We now have 7 Wilson's Plover chicks with color band so far this  years.  These bands will help us to follow these special birds though the years.

Aren't they cute.  Meet Blue/Green BLG and Blue/yellow or BLY hatched 5-26-2015

And here is a chick that was hatched Mother's Day
May 10, 2015 This one is Light Blue/Orange or LBLO

Here one chick ready to get back to its mom.

Friday, May 22, 2015

2015 May Atlanta Shorebirds Workshop part 2

On Sunday May 17, Our Shorebird Workshop was out on the waters of the Altamaha River Delta to look for birds. Brooks Good had the perfect boat. It was a platoon boat. It was just like a floating dock. It made it perfect for looking at shorebirds.   We did see them.  Man, we did see them! It was so much fun.  See! 

At the end of one amazing stop we all let out a celebration whoop.

On the way back we stop by a grass island that was covered with all kinds of herons and ibis.

 All in all it was wonderful morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 May Atlanta Shorebird Workshop part 1

Brad Winn who was then working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources persuaded Lisa and Art Hurt to do this special Atlanta Audubon workshop in May. The Georgia Coast is one of those secret places where birds have a chance to rest on their migration routes. In May the shorebird time their migration to correspond with horseshoe crabs laying their eggs. Lisa called on Gene Keferl and me to help lead the group which i
s limited to 12 people.

This year’s workshop was time just right for the moon phase, tides and bird. Saturday, we met and carpooled down to the south end of Jekyll. We hit it just right! The tide was going out and the birds were dividing into the fest. 

I invited my friend Georgia Graves to come along. I met Georgia years ago when I starting leading groups for Coastal Encounter Nature Center. She is a wonderful engaging teacher who helps to show the connection between our coast and the birds. Here she is showing why the shorebirds are on the beach.
She uses a sieve to dig up the anthropoids that are
the favorite food of the Sanderlings and Dunlins. She also found a dead horseshoe crab loaded with eggs. These eggs are protein and fat packed perfect for shorebirds that are going to fly to the arctic.

Here are a few birds feasting on those eggs.

Of course, the reason I take the group here is to see the Wilson’s Plovers with their chicks. They did not disappoint us we saw all 5 chicks! Here is one picture by Larry Gridley. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Plover Patrol at Georgia Sea Turtle Center

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center attracts over 100,000 people to come to Jekyll annually. On Thursday April 9 and Friday, April 10 around 1200 people came to their spring event called Shell-a-brate.
For the past few years, I have had the Operation Plover Patrol booth at this event.  The idea is to teach visitors to the beach about the birds those birds on the beach. This year, we did something different. 
This year we decided to create signs for the nesting shorebirds on our coast. Painting is fun and a good way to engage the public in helping these birds. It wasn’t my idea. I took the idea from Walker Golder, the North Carolina Audubon Director. Since we were on Jekyll and we have a rope line at the south end with nesting Wilson’s Plover, we focus on Wilson’s Plovers.

We talked about why the rope line was up.  We showed pictures of Wilson’s Plovers as family groups. One of those pictures showed the adult in plain sight and the chick blended into the wrack and vegetation. We ask people to find the chicks. It was fun to watch them search and find the chicks.

We had decided to have three slogans to build their sign designs around. Those slogans were “Help the Wilson’s”, “Share the Beach,” and “Protect our nests.”  I had a simple way to draw a bird to show our young artists. 

The young people were very amazing at coming up with ideas on their own. Here are a few of the signs.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Back on the Beach

March 30, 2014, it has been a year since that day.  I had joined a group of birders on Little St. Simons Island.  My hip had been giving me problems but ignored it.  “Just a pinched nerve,” I thought.  The First beach was at the north end of the island.  There we were going to see a Long-billed Curlew.  This is a large shorebird who feeds on worms in the soft mud of our salt marsh creeks.  If you are from the Pacific Ocean Coast, you are probably saying we see 100’s of Long-billed Curlew, big Deal. But here in Georgia, there are just a few that winter here.  Little St. Simons Island is the place to see them.

Carl Runge & I at Glory Boardwalk
I was really looking forward to seeing this bird so I slogged through the mud with my heavy scope to see it.  There it was the tall, stately brown bird with a long bill that was almost as long as it body was long.  I was in heaven. But my heaven soon turned into hell.  I slogged out of the mud back to the sandy beach only to have my hip screaming at me.  I could barely move.

The next stop was the center beach.  There was a large group of terns way out on the sand bar.  I would have to walk out on that soft sand.  I couldn't do it.  There were those terns waiting for me to walk out to them.  Sandwich Terns, Royal Terns Caspian Terns, Forster’s Terns, and Common Terns, I love terns and I couldn't walk out to see them.  It broke my heart.  What was wrong?

Lourdes Page and I at Glory Boardwalk
Well, that was a year ago.  Since then, I have been cooked, cut and fried but the doctors, my friends and I, we beat that cancer.  So on April 3, 2015, I walked on the beach on Jekyll. Carl and Lourdes joined me to walked almost the whole southern half of Jekyll's beach. We conducted the first of the spring season's International Shorebird Surveys.  It felt great to be out there looking at Willets, Dunlins, Sanderlings and six Short-billed Dowitchers.  They were beautiful.  Of course, the Wilson’s Plover came out from the wrack to give me a high five and welcome back.  We saw 4 pairs and there could be 2 more pair tucked way back in the sandy dunes.  I look forward to helping them as they settle into nest.  Yea! More to come...