It was time to get the Georgia Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival registration booklet to the printers, which meant running back and forth to Brunswick, our town on the mainland, for the past week! There are manmade causeways that connect both islands, St. Simons and Jekyll, to the mainland, so living on St. Simons Island, I am surrounded by ocean, rivers, and marsh, and to go to the mainland I must drive these causeways. But I never get tired of the wide open views of vivid green marshes with blue rivers and creeks reflecting the cerulean blue sky. This week we have had the blue sky dotted with frothy white clouds marching to the horizon.
Birds are always feeding in the creeks or flying from one area to another. On one of those trips I had topped a bridge over one of the many rivers when a Wood Stork soared by me, its wings stretched wide. It would shift right, then left, as it searched for a meal. Little moments like this take my breath away, and are what drives me to get this registration booklet to the press. There is so much here to celebrate! So mark your calendar for the Georgia Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival on October 12-14, 2007. The booklet will be in the mail by August 1st. For more information check out http://www.coastalgeorgiabirding.org/
The Georgia coast and my home of the Golden Isles is a combination of oak and pine forests as well as wide open views. Thursday’s brief ramble was a good example of this. Jekyll Island Authority’s new Conservation Manager, Christa Frangiamore, was holding a forum on the new Conservation Plan. Since I helped do the surveying of the birds and animals for this plan, I had to be there.
The high tide was earlier this Thursday morning. There were incredible numbers of egrets around the causeway; it was a feeding frenzy! Spoonbills, egrets, herons, ibis, yellowlegs, dowitchers, and grackles (along with a few terns) were all vying for the best place. At one point I counted 50 Short-billed Dowitchers with one Black-bellied Plover feeding out in the marsh. Who could have known there were that many young dowitchers hanging around?
I hustled on to the bird sanctuary in the campground in hopes of seeing the Northern Parula and Painted Buntings that nest there. I got the parula but I was there a little too early for the bird show. Laugh if you will, but because the food isn't put out there (usually) until 10:00 A.M., the birds don’t come into the area until 10:30! Just sitting there in that quiet place surrounded by huge old live oaks was a perfect way to collect myself before an important meeting. Jekyll Island Authority has an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of ecotourism here in the US: with the reinforcement of the 35% developed and 65% undeveloped law on the Georgia law books, this Conservation Plan is a key component of the master plan of this island. It is important to protect but it is also important to educate. So I was at the meeting at 10:00 A.M. with a brief bird ramble to bolster my belief in this exceptional area.
With Jekyll’s birdlife on my mind--good birding!