Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tybee Island Birding

Last Saturday I took the day off and went birding with my friends John & Marge. We went up to Tybee Island. This is the island that is east of Savannah. It is an eclectic mix of new large up scaled homes, old art& craft cottages, 1950 style hotels, quant boutiques and great birds A Lark Sparrow had been found so we went looking for it. We were also going to go look at the Purple Sandpipers that hang out on the beach. The Lark sparrow was a no show but it was nice running into other Georgia birders while we waited. The sandpipers were just where they were supposed to be hanging out with Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones. Great day great birds and great seeing old friends, it does not get any better.

Waiting for the sparrow with friends
from left to right John, Tim, Diana and me

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

November in review

It has been a very busy November. Working mostly on festival summary 2007 and a major commission, I though it would be best if I just showed you some of the events in pictures. Enjoy! .

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron November 15
Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop of Jekyll and Coastal Georgia Audubon teamed up to put a partridge in a pear tree or better yet a pine cone birdfeeder in the backyard. The children and young at heart that came to the Lighting of the tree on Jekyll November 24 had fun with this activity.

More birds, art, and Jekyll coming in December.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pocket marsh bird survey

On November 9, I completed my first survey of a pocket marsh. This little marsh was cut off back in the 1960’s and has filled in over the years. My assignment is to find out what birds are using the area now. My! I love these assignments. It is wetlands filled with various marsh grasses. Surprisingly there are quite a few birds using it. My favorite one is the Sedge Wren. It was so close to me I could almost touch it. What a subtle beauty. There were also some Wood Storks hanging out as well.

Catch up with a Snow Bunting

Oh gosh....I am way behind on this blog. I have been working on several projects all at the same time. But now I have one of the largest projects out of the way. I can now catch up.

First, there was a Snow Bunting that visited the Altamaha WMA a few weeks ago. The bird was very easy to find because it was chowing down on grass seeds in a small burn area. My little group got to see and photograph it.
Enjoy your birds! Lydia

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Causeway to Jekyll

It is a matter of perspective. Back in July, we had a festival meeting on Jekyll. I wrote in my blog how enjoyable the drive to Jekyll was with all the wild flowers in bloom accented by the breathtaking vistas. During the birding festival, I heard comment after comment about the beautiful causeway and all those wildflowers. An artist friend and I were talking a little later about art. She had a beautiful painting of the entrance to Jekyll. She commented about the nature beauty of the drive to Jekyll.
So imagine my surprise when at the JIA board meeting there was a plea to do something about the Jekyll Causeway, it was a tunnel.
October 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Thrilling 5th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival

I can not believe it. The 5th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival is now history. There is a quote that I keep on my wall by Alfred Sloan “The greatest real thrill that life offers is to create, to construct, to develop something useful.”

For four days, October 11-14, I watched this birding & nature festival proceed. This was the creation of a faithful volunteer committee who spent long hours the last year creating the different parts of this festival. These events included field trips headed up by Georgia Ornithological Society, seminars & workshops headed up by Regi Sonnen, The Rookery exhibit area, evening banquet with special featured speaker Dr John Fitzpatrick headed up by Lydia Thompson & Harriet Roberson, the Colonial Coast Birding Challenge Competition headed up by Sheila Willis, and first time this year a successful family Nature Day on Saturday headed up by Marge Inness. Special committees were registration headed up by Dot Bambach, treasurer Gene Keferl, publicity headed up by Beth Roth, magazine ads and special printing headed up by Pat Metz and recording secretary Harriet Roberson. Eric Garvey, Beth Burnsed and the JIA marketing team helped in a variety of ways including provide prize money for the birding challenge, specialty signs, and an eye-catching billboard. These committees work very hard sharing & exchanging ideas. We helped each other create the four day festival. What was the reward for this hard work? It was all the festival events were very well attended. There were quite a few events that sold out during the festival's pre-registration period.

Of course we could not control the weather. But it seemed the weather had been listening in on all our meetings. It gave us the best it could offer. We started off with a double cold front which brought the birds down to us. We had some impressive flights of falcons, hawks and eagles. The Andrew’s Island Field Trip group was stunned by the hunting abilities of a Peregrine Falcon. It made several passes over the large group of shorebirds. The birds would fly up and the falcon made it’s pick for lunch out group. Shorebirds were the high light of several field trips. There were some summer birds still around like both male and female Painted Buntings. There were winter birds coming in for the first time this season for example Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Savannah Sparrows. There were amazing migrants like the Caribbean Cave Swallow and Wilson’s Warbler. The rarest bird found was at the banding station where a MacGillivray’s Warbler was banded. This is only the second confirmed record of this western warbler in the state of Georgia.

This year’s newest addition was Nature Day on Saturday. It was a huge success. Children came from all along the coast to join in the fun. An example is a Brownie troop from Fernandina Beach with several leaders that came and spent the day. Here are a few of the activities in which they participated:
1. Beginning bird watching which included using binoculars and scope,
2. Reading wildlife signs which included making a plaster cast of an animal track
3. Shark Identification which included a study of a live shark at Tidelands Nature Center
4. Care of sick and injured turtles which included a study of Dylan the sea turtle at The Georgia Turtle Center
5. Raptor Show which included a study of live bird of prey present Raptor Center of Georgia Southern University
It was a full day for all the children. Each child was given a passport which was stamped during the activities they attended and at the end of the day was redeemed for the Nature Day patch. Overall it was one of the most thrilling four days of my life. Thanks to the many folks who worked tirelessly to pull the 5th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival together.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Coastfest first then the birding festival

Coastfest is the Saturday October 6, before Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival. It is put on by Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resource Division. Lea King and her group invite environment organization from up and down the coast to have an exhibit. Our Coastal Georgia Audubon has always had a booth. For year Chris Daughtry has reclaim old oak palettes and turned them into bluebird house kits. At Coastfest we invite children to build a very nice bluebird house. It is a very popular booth. For the past two years we have tried to get information out about birds and the environment.
So this year we added information about binoculars plus where to go birding. The weather the few days before was ominous. The rain was threatening to ruin Coastfest. We were all relieved to see a great day with a great crowd. The 5th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival is just around the corner now! We are going to pick up and run with the wonderful energy of Coastfest. See you there.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dianne Gaddy's pastels are in the foreground my art work is down the wall

In breaking a little with birds and birding, I took time to help hang a show that will be at The Jolley House which is part of the Hospice Care Center here in Brunswick GA. Dianne Gaddy and I are members of the Georgia Coastal Artist Guild here in the Golden Isles. Our Guild looks for ways to do community service. I also feel a strong pull to give back the joy I get out of watching birds that it spills out of my hands into my art. I choose five pieces of my work that were meant to raise your spirit and quiet your soul. I hope that over the month as folks who face the very harsh realities of life will view our art and that it gives them a little smile and little comfort.
I think of my monotypes as fun and funky my etchings are more traditional.
Tomorrow it is back to birds

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Start the count down

Well, we had our last festival committee meeting on September 28. Due to the hard work of a these few dedicated folks and a huge volunteer group the 5th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival is going to be an event to celebrate the Georgia coast. Come join in the fun. The raptors, shorebirds, and warblers are flocking into the area so should you. See you on Jekyll!

Our meeting have been lively and productive.

top photo Lydia, Dot, John, Gene, Regi and Pat
work out a few last minutes details
photo on right. Regi, Pat Harriet, Dot, John and Gene worked long hours so lets have a good time
See you there.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thursday Morning Bird Ramble

Thursday September 27,2007 The tide is super high this morning and So we did not get to the beach but even with that slow start to the morning birding we did see some very good birds. Teresa wanted to photograph Roseate Spoonbills. They were resting on a little tucked away spot on the Jekyll Island Causeway. It was going to take so doing but the crew was willing so after some rules we tried to sneak in. Teresa got some shots. I hope they turn out for her.

The tide was just way to high to make a second attempt at the beach birds so we went to the Campground Sanctuary. It was a good move. There were at least three species of Thrush. A few warblers popped out including one very stunning American Redstart male. That bird just sparkled as it took advantage of the bird bath. What a little jewel the bird Sanctuary has turned out to be for the birds and birdwatchers.

Sitting out Front

Well I was at Jekyll's Wild birds Unlimited Nature Shop Monday through Wednesday.

Tuesday September 25, there just seemed to be a lot of birds around. Scarlet Tanager was the bird of the week for me but there were other neat birds around Jekyll’s Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop. There were quite a few warblers species around as well as our residents. Here are a few photos.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rainy week in September

The Golden Isles and Jekyll had a great deal of rain last week . It stopped me from going out to morning bird watch. Last Wednesday my day was off to a good start as I drove onto Jekyll Island. There was a Bald Eagle flying over the marsh then landing on a power pole. It was an awesome sight.

Gary and Janie Smith own the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop on Jekyll Island. They have contracted with me to be their resident naturist and artist in resident. Part of that is that I am in the shop on Wednesdays. Last Wednesday was overcast and there were not a lot of folks visiting the historic district shop. So I had time to drag the porch chair out to a stop where I can see all the feeders as well as the live oaks and sky.
That afternoon as I sat and played around with the Identflyer Wand, I had a nice group of birds some of the warblers included, American Redstarts, Black & White, Tennessee, Cape May, Prairie, and resident Yellow-throated. Here are my notes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ramble 9-13-07 birding

We did something a little different on Thursday. I met two long time Ramblers earlier than normal. Instead of meeting on Jekyll, we met at Gisco Marina Road which is just off US 17 on the causeway . It was a great idea. The shorebirds were around the marsh and pond there. There was a good group of Blue-winged Teal. Among all these birds there was one dowitcher that caught my attention. At first I thought it was a Stilt Sandpiper. I was so excited but the more I looked and moved around to get a better looks at it. It just was not the right shape. It was feeding with two Short-billed Dowitchers. This bird was the same size and shape but it was very pale. It did not have the brown bib instead it was very white from the chin to the under tail coverts. The back was about two shades lighter. The bill was about same length. It looked like a pale Short-billed Dowitcher. Hum? I love birds like this for they make us think and it keeps us on our toes.
We finally tore us ourselves away from shorebirds, heron, egrets and spoonbills. We moved on to the southend of Jekyll. The mosquitoes greeted us and stayed with us as we walked us out to the dunes. There were quite a few Eastern Kingbirds flying around. I kept hearing Bobolinks with one step about 15 flew off, a few landed in the bushes silhouetted against the sun. It seemed to the problem of the day. The birds were playing hide & go seek. We had a Tennessee Warbler play peak a boo in a bush. Out on the beach there were good numbers of Royal Terns and Laughing Gulls peppered in were Caspian Terns, Sandwich Terns and a surprising large number of Common Terns.

At one point I counted 60 Common Terns. Standing tall in the mix were three Lesser Black-backed Gulls. We also had 7 Red Knots with a Semipalmated Sandpiper, 5 Western and a few Leas Sandpipers. Black Skimmers were chatting back and forth. But it was very hot so we moved on to the Campground where we spend the rest of the morning.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Please don't chase the birds

Dogs make great companions. Along with the companionship come responsibilities. Exercise is part of those responsibilities. Now-a-days as we crowd out wildlife, part of our responsibilities is to understand where and when it is good to allow our dogs to run free. Your dog on the beach running free is a beautiful sight to you. But when a dog runs through resting flocks of migrating birds, it ceases being about the dog’s game. It is a matter of life and death for some of those birds who have already traveled miles and have miles still to go.
I looked forward to a quiet morning of studying swallows and terns. There I stood on the last boardwalk over one of my favorite spots watching a few swallows when I saw the shorebirds well up out on the beach. My heart sank. I headed immediately out to the beach. There was a couple with their lovely spaniel. Well the dog was bounding thru the birds. If I had been a few minutes early I could have been in position to engage this couple with their dog in conversation. In this conversation, I explain why it is important to allow the birds here to rest. I find that most folks have no idea what these birds are doing there. Once they hear & understand, they gladly help the birds. Education is the key to understanding and cooperation. We need to get the word out that the Southend of Jekyll is a very special place. It can be a place to watch, study, and learn about birds and wildlife. There is a comment book at the Jekyll Island Campground Bird Sanctuary where folk can write comments about the sanctuary. Many of the comments are thanking the Jekyll Island Authority folks for having this quiet place of reflection. The south end beach is a similar place of rest and quiet.
Today the dog bounded by me. The birds were gone. I turned to see that part of the flock had settled down east of me. I picked up my scope and walked there. It was hot and the tide was going out which meant that a lot of the birds were heading out to other resting places. While studying the flock I found several species I wanted to draw and record. Caspian, Royal, and Sandwich Terns were present. Working away I didn’t find any Common or Forster’s Terns but I was content to get some contour drawings of the mixed flocks. These contour drawing are what I use to get a “feel” for the birds. I call this excise tactile learning. This excise makes you pay attention to the details that are important in creating a work of art. My excise was interrupted again when the dog came back bounding through the flock. The birds were gone again. The couple walked by me waved and smiled totally oblivious. I had missed my opportunity to engaging them in conversation. I turned around and headed back west. I did find three Black Terns but they were extremely jittery. The whole smaller flock remained jumpy.

I turned and went to the Campground Sanctuary. There it was quiet and the birds were enjoying the food and water. There were Northern Parula, Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireos as well as the ever present of cardinals, chick-a-dee and titmice. The Amphitheater area had resting night-herons and Anhingas. It was a productive morning but I will apology for the rant about the dog on the beach. It just shows me we have to do more to educate Jekyll’s visitors about Jekyll’s wildlife. What a wonderful opportunity we have to educate in a uniquely Jekyll way which is fun and enjoyable!
Thanks Lydia

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Swallows are flying

Barn, Barn, Barn, Barn, Barn, BANK, Barn, Barn, Barn, Barn, Barn, CLIFF, Barn, Barn, Barn, Barn, Barn, BANK, PURPLE MARTIN, Barn, Barn- there goes five Eastern Kingbirds, Bobolinks bink over head. Every year I wade through the heat of August to see this spectacle, the migration of swallows. It isn’t like the Tree Swallow migration in October where the flocks are gathered in tight swirls. These birds are scattered over the dunes with other birds heading south with them. It is hard to pick one bird for they are flying up and around, back and forth. The nice ingredient is they are all flying at or just a little above eye level. Well except the martins, they fly much higher and direct. They are just leaving. The Cliff Swallows seem to fly just a little higher and more direct as well. They may bank once or twice to show off the buffy rumps before they blast off south. They are all flying over the golden sea oats. This triggers my imagination. I am alone so I bring out my sketch book and draw.

Out on the beach the tide is high and coming in so the gulls and terns are gathered together. There are Black, Least, Caspian, Sandwich, Common, Forster’s Terns mixed in with the Royal Terns and the Black Skimmers. It is hard to tear myself away but I finally do and head off to lunch in the Bird Sanctuary in the Campground. A Worm-eating Warbler is picking food for itself behind the bird bath. What a beautiful little skulker! It takes some time to see around the leaves to get the ochre colored head with the black strips that help clinch the ID. I just have to look at the Yellow-crowned Night-heron so I finished the morning at the Amphitheater. The image is an adult Yellow-crowned flying across the deep green Amphitheater pond is an image I want to etch someday. I was treated to great views of both night-herons but the treat were the Pine Warblers that were singing as they foraged in the pines. Yes it is hot but the images of migration make it worth the wade.