Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coastal Georgia Audubon helps children go birding

Too many children spend too much time indoors. Parents pass on fears of their fears of spiders and snakes. Growing up in the south, my friends and I were out doors even when it was hot. Those times we just sat in shade. I was fortunate. Today with air conditioning, TV and x boxes most kids just do not play out doors.

For the last two day as representatives of Coastal Georgia Audubon Society, Gene Keferl & I worked with a group of Gateway kids. These children come from diverse backgrounds. We were asked to work with these children on a unit of bird watching. We did this in two sessions. Yesterday we did a class room session. Gene, a retired college professor, worked out a very good outline for the class session. I pulled together a short power point program to go along with that outline. We discover in working with the class that we need about an hour and a half. The first third is spent getting the children to think about the reasons for bird watching and how to go about preparing to go bird watching. The second third is the power point to get the children to think about what to look for and some cool fact about birds they would see the next day. The last third is how to use binoculars. Using binoculars is crucial to watching bird and it does take practice.

This morning we met the group at Honey Creek. Honey Creek is the camp and conference center of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. This center is located south of Brunswick Ga on 100 acres. It has mixed pine and live oaks tree along a tidal creek. It was a wonderful place to meet the children. Gene was ready so we brought out the binoculars. These binoculars were part of a grant Coastal Georgia Audubon received last year. Our group is looking for ways to reach out into our own community. We are looking for children who show an interest in birding. Our goal is mentor these children .
The group today was a good size group for we could help them one on one. My hope is that these children will be a little more aware of a world out doors.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just for fun

Becky Valentine & I went birding on Saturday. We went to Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area (WMA) Butler Island unit. This is the remnants of an old rice plantation. Some of the highlights of this area were:
The Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks about 22 of them, they were spread across the island some resting others flying around. While we were on the viewing tower watching several Mottled Duck families, 5 Black-necked Stilts flew by at eye level. Whoa, what a sight! Those elegant birds with white bodies black wings and long slender legs were effortlessly flying around the tower and toward the Altamaha River. As we were walking back around the dike we followed three Orchard Orioles who were flying from tree to tree just ahead of us.
From there we went to Jekyll. I wanted a chance to look at the new bird island off the north end of Jekyll near the Clam Creek parking lot. The island is far enough out there that you do need a good scope. There were lots of pelicans around the edge of the island and ever once in a while a cloud of skimmers would fly up and around and back down again. At the campground bird sanctuary, the place was jumping. There were 3 male Painted Bunting, 1 immature male American Redstart, 2 Northern Parulas, a male Summer Tanager and the normal mix of cardinals & chickadees.
It was a wonderful day to bird on the Georgia coasts.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shorebirds return

A few shorebirds do stay here in June. There are not large numbers of them but they are around. We are now beginning to see some of our arctic nesters returning. Thursday there was a nice flock at pond on Gisco Point Road. Dowitchers, yellowlegs and Least Sandpipers were all loafing on the little island in the middle of that pond. Yea! The shorebirds are returning.

On a totally different bird note, we made a stop under the M.E. Thompson (Jekyll Island) Bridge. Low tide exposed a lot of the mud and grass so we were able to watch five Worthington's Marsh Wrens. They were very gray. It was a rare treat to watch them as they worked their way around in the marsh grass right below us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Build A Bird with Georgia

Georgia working with children in 2007

July is summer camp time at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Sue Andersson, who heads up the program, invites Georgia Graves and me to do a morning program Georgia calls Build A Bird. Georgia introduces the children to what makes a bird a bird. I follow it up with how to find birds. We learn how to use binoculars and scope.

Georgia is a wonderful teacher. She engages the kids in an interactive way that keeps us all on the edge of our seats.

This year I was thrilled to a family of five had already been out birding. Their list would be the envy of a lot of birders for they had already seen Painted Buntings, Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills.
I would like to thank Sue for the pictures.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Georgia's Colonail Coast Birding & Nature Festival Booklets

Hi Everyone,

At long last the Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival registration booklet are in the mail. Let me know if you need one. I'll sent to you or just look online at http://www.coastalgeorgiabirding.org/. This festival just keeps growing. Want to help? Volunteers are welcome.

Here are some of the valuable volunteers preparing the mailing. I want to thank, Beth Roth and Regi Sonnen from Savannah's Ogeechee Audubon and Debbie Mumford, Harriet Roberson, Carole Lyons, Gene Keferl from Coastal Georgia Audubon for coming out to help make easy work of complex job.
We are looking for a two very special volunteers
One person to help coordinate the Saturday seminars
One person to coordinate the Silent Auction

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A day for the herons

It was raining. It didn’t look that bad when I got into my van. By the time I got to the stoplight at US 17 it was pouring. I thought it was maybe a scattered show. By the time I got over the Sidney-Lanier Bridge the bottom had dropped out. Looking around I could tell the day was a wash.

While I was over on Jekyll causeway, I ducked, well more like bushwacked, into one of my favorite places. A couple of years ago Georgia Power did some work on a power pole. This opened a path to a pond. It is a pond that the Roseate Spoonbills love. I was not disappointed. There were Wood Storks, herons, and Roseate Spoonbills.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Exploring LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation

Exploring is part of the fun of birding. Where are some unique new places to go birding?
On Sunday afternoon, a group of ten Coastal Georgia Audubon members headed north of Brunswick for about an hour to explore LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation. Mary Beth Evans, the Executive VP of the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation, Inc., welcomed us and gave us a delightful tour. . LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation was a rice plantation that was established in 1760 by John Eatton LeConte. There were three generations of LeContes that lived at Woodmanston. They were educators and scientists. People like John Bartram and John J Audubon visited the plantation. Louis LeConte cultivated and built an extensive base of knowledge about native flora.
It was a fun Sunday afternoon. We saw where the LeContes experimented with horticulture in the old garden sight. We walked diked gum-cypress swamps. What a great place for all those hardwood bottomland birds. While we walked, I hear and saw Acadian Flycatcher, Northern Parula, and Red-eyed Vireo. The highlight for me was seeing a Hooded Warbler. It is a wonderful place to explore. Thanks to Mary Beth Evans for the tour.
Here is the website. http://www.leconte-woodmanston.org/index.htmll

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wilson's Plover in June

During the month of June I did a few surveys of our Wilson’s Plovers families. It was very clear that three families raised young this year. One of the birder who went out me captured this picture of a Wilson’s with her two chicks safely tucked away from harm. Notice the six legs...
Surprisingly most of the chicks made it thru the flightless stage. The chicks grew stronger and started flying. The three pairs seem to have at least two juveniles that survived. . These birds appeared to be feasting on mud fiddler crabs on the west side of Jekyll Point. Man, those juveniles can run! I don’t see how the parents keep up but they do it. Here one of the parents with a chick

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Birding festival update

Oh Dear! I just got a very nice comment so I checked in on my blog. I am sorry for being so far behind. It has been a wild couple of months. For the most part I have been up to my eyeballs in details as a few of us pull together the booklet for the Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival October 9-13. It is a complex of field trips up and down our coast, workshops, seminars, socials, and a special family day on Saturday. The idea is to show off the wealth of wildlife we have here on our coast. My goodness do we have a wonderful area. After a couple of years living on the road birding, I was asked where I wanted to live. The decision was easy. Jekyll Island made it easy. Here is a place you can come stop and rest. You can walk, ride a bike and not worry about being run over. If you want to go a little faster you can rent an electric car. Talk about green, it is an escape to a slower time. If you area a birder, in just a leisurely morning of birding you can see and hear around fifty species of birds. After more than twenty year I still love this place and want to share it.
This is the reason I have dedicated myself to this festival, so we can show it off. This festival takes a lot of planning. The field trips are a big part but there is also a special Nature Day on Saturday with an interactive exhibit area. Some of the top optics and camera folks are there to help you find the best equipment for you. I could go on and on but you can check it out yourself. The dates are October 9-13, 2008. Our website is http://www.coastalgeorgiabirding.org/
We are still putting up the information so hang in there. It will be up in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, I did slip away a little to bird.