Friday, August 29, 2008

And the Barn Swallows fly by

Yes, it is the time of year when we have the most diverse flock of swallows migrating by Jekyll. This migration makes the late summer heat bearable. If you stand in one place, put your hands out & wait one of these swallows will fly by and brush your hands. It does challenge you to select one swallow and figure out what species it is. There are clues. Generally the Purple Martins fly high up. The Cliff Swallows tend to swill around about 10 to 15 feet above the ground. Bank Swallows are close to the ground in groups. Rough-wings Swallows seem to be individual birds.

Yesterday August 28, I joined the new 4-H staff. We talked about birds, especially shorebirds, gulls and terns. It is good to be in a room of eager teachers. While on the beach we talked about beach etiquette. The children of Georgia are going to have wonderful teachers when they come to the Jekyll Island 4-H Center. And the Barn Swallows just keep flying by.

Binoculars were provided by Coastal Georgia Audubon Society.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Introducing a new blog

Here is Debbie's new blog. She is exploring with her camera in hand the world around her. Enjoy

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hanging on by toenails

Here a few Sanderlings hanging on by their toenails in the driving rain

You know storms like Fay fascinate me but they also scare me. Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 was one of the first that truly scare me. I was dealing with a bad water oak tree out in my front year. I sat up all night wondering if I would be toast.

Black Tern in the morning

Tropical Storm Fay is a strange storm. Ordinarily, these storms form and race by, being just a blip on the radar. Not this one, no sir. It won’t go away. So today I HAD to go to Jekyll. The Sidney Lanier Bridge was close. The reason I live on St. Simons Island instead of my beloved Jekyll is that a ship ran into this old Sidney Lanier Bridge and for two year my commute to St. Simons doubled from 18 miles to 36 miles. In those days, I worked for several printmakers and the press I used was on St. Simons. For over twelve years, I worked as a printmaker in a little studio on St. Simons. It just made sense to live here. One thing I can say about art is don’t count on it. One day you are the toast of the town. The next day you’re just toast. Opps, sorry for the soar grapes.

Let me get back to my today. When the Sidney Lanier Bridge is closed all of us that go from one island to the other have to drive out US 341 then turn on US 303 drive across Blithe Island to US 17 to Jekyll, or vice versa. This is a lovely drive but today, there was no marsh visible. In fact the whole marsh was transformed into Lake Glynn.

One view of Lake Glynn

I got to Jekyll and JUST HAD to swing by the beach area. There are several large parking lots. The one just north of the convention center had terns and Sanderling hunkered down on it.
This morning, there were Sandwich, Royal, Common, Forster's and Black Terns. I took some photos and then when over to Wild Birds. I had a couple birders drop by and report some of their sightings. One gentleman had three Magnificent Frigatebirds on the north end just sitting in some of the driftwood trees yesterday.

I closed early. It was pretty messy out. I took one more look at the parking lot. This time I hit it just right for a squall line push on shore. But I position the van so the driving rain wouldn’t hit me and opened the window. There along with the other terns was a Bridled Tern. I did the best I could to get a photo with out disturbing these exhausted birds. When I looked around I found six more Bridled Terns. There was one lone tern closer to the Convention Center. Backing up and carefully making my way around the resting birds. I got closer to the lone bird. It was a Sooty Tern. It was exhausted. So after a couple of photos I left it alone.

I may be worried about my trees but I worry in the security of a home out of the rain and wind. Today I witnessed Sanderling huddled together. At time they looked like they were hanging on by their toenails. That poor Sooty Tern was so exhausted it was trying to sleep in the middle of a driving rain. My cozy little home looks pretty good right now.

Black Terns and Fay

I have a confession to make I played hooky. Please, give me a break there is a tropical storm out right outside my door. I am a birder, so I grabbed my binoculars, forgot my camera and headed out. When I turned onto East Beach Causeway there were Black Terns everywhere. Well I couldn’t stand it. I turned around and got my camera.
As I drove looking for interesting birds on St. Simons, I ran into Georgia Graves. She was out taking pictures for her seminar “The Georgia Coast: A Bird Magnet.” She will do this seminar at the festival so I was kind of working. After a few minutes of catching up, I went up to Gould’s Inlet. It is a very small place. There was a TV crew there doing a broadcast. People were all around the crew. It was a zoo. I turned back around and settle in with the Black Terns. Fascinating, these birds are abundant right off our coast. We work hard to see a few on land. Here they were about 200 or more. They looked like they do in the Great Plains, flitting around picking at the water in the marsh.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guides and Woodbine

I visited with Cindy Janus yesterday afternoon. She was telling me what Gordon Roger and she had decided for the Woodbine Riverwalk and Kayak trip. They were kayaking White Oak Creek. It sounds fabulous. Every time I talk to the guides about their trips, I want to go. These are caring guides. Cindy is one of them. She loves what she does. Cindy & Southeast Adventure goes all out to give you a great experience. We are fortunate to have them support the Georgia Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival. They are doing three trips: St. Simons Kayak, Cathead Creek by Kayak and the new trip Woodbine Riverwalk and Kayak trip.
Just a little word about Woodbine Riverwalk, this community is working diligently to be a greenway. They have a wonderful “rails to trails” greenway. The Women Club of Woodbine is working to put in several bird sanctuaries along the trail. By the way I learned that Woodbine was named for the vine woodbine which is coral honeysuckle. Coral honeysuckle is the native honeysuckle that hummingbirds love. Way to cool!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watching Fay

Tropical Storm Fay is crossing Florida right now. The Georgia coast has more trouble with storms that sneak across center Florida and hit us from the south and west than from the south and east. Several times we have had near misses from huge storms like HUGO and FLOYD. These storms scare the ….. out of you. The thought of that storm surge washing over theses tiny barriers to the mainland is like kissing everything goodbye. PS it is. When Floyd came through in 1999 I loaded my van and said goodbye to everything that was home. It was a weird feeling and not a good one either. But Floyd was catch up in the Gulf Stream and was drug up the coastline. We were safe…..that time.

In 2004 we were pounding by several storms. All these storms came across Florida and hit us from behind. I’ve lived with these storms all my life part of me is still fascinated by them. The other more logical part of me is screaming get the heck out of here. That is the part of me that lived on the road and when the weather got uncomfortable I left. Now I am part of the place so I stay and watch.
Today I was out doing, you guess it, festival work. I was on Jekyll. Bob Reed who helps with the field trips told me he had just seen two Magnificent Frigatebirds. They were well on their way by the time I got out. There were lots of Ospreys out and one Bald eagle. Here are my shots of the bans of storms. More tomorrow.
This eagle was eating a big fish and did not want to move. No worries here mate.

Backyard Warblers

Over the years I have learned that tropical disturbances are hard to predict. Well, I should say we humans find it hard. Do birds have a sense about weather? Right now Hurricane Fay is churning its way across Florida.
This morning while I worked on festival details I have seen a Worm-eating Warbler, American Redstart and a Prothonotary Warbler in the bushes. Nice yard birds. Wonder what the next few days will bring coastal Georgia?

Sorry, I try to get pictures of those birds but my dripping spring is in the bushes. Those little birds flit in and out before my camera is ready.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gray Kingbird

I have a fascination with certain birds that visit our coast. One of those birds is the Gray Kingbird. It arrived a little early this year around April 17th. It is not a wildly colored bird. In fact it is multiple shades of gray and white with a black patch around the eye. As I go on and on about this wonderful bird the folks around me are generally looking around for some more interesting bird. But think about it this bird spends it winter in the Caribbean then it comes to spend the summer here on Jekyll. Gray Kingbirds have been coming here since 1981. Every year I can count on this species spending the summer here. This is about as far north as it gets. The last few years it has started nesting in Savannah so it is moving north.
Well I look at this bird sitting on the wire or in the live oak around the shopping center every chance I get. When my friend and new birder, Debbie Mumford, sent me a picture of a Gray Kingbird in Brunswick I was stunned. A bird I thought I knew so well looked different. It was the great angle she got on the bird. Look at the bill! I always see it up high on a wire or a limb. She was in her truck right at eye level. Great Shot! Thanks for sharing.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Warbler Wave

Thursday morning I spent a little time on Jekyll. At the south end, I had 3 groups of 5 Prairie Warblers then 2 groups of 3 Prairie Warblers a couple of other birds fly by me. I have one photo that shows they were on the move. There were also a few American Redstarts flying around. I had two adult males flitting around the tree together at the Amphitheater area. It was glorious.
When I got to the beach, it was low tide. At first, there were just lots of Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls and a few Black Skimmers. I am working on a drawing of Black Skimmers so I sat down to draw. In a little while, I was rewarded for my patience three Black Terns flew in with a immature Common Tern.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Art of oystercatchers

In keeping with the art theme, here is a photo taking by Gene Keferl. American Oystercatchers are striking birds. There are times when they gather up on the south end of Jekyll Island. Here is a watercolor I created a while back of a group of them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Well best laid plans....I had planned to have a few days to work on my art. But Monday and today I had to work on Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding Festival stuff. It is alright for I think we are creating a great festival for everyone. Please think about coming. We are preparing for preregistration starts August 23 at 9 am.

This afternoon I glanced out at my bird bath drip, there sitting as beautiful as she could be was a Summer Tanager. She stayed long enough for me to grab my binoculars and then she flew off. It was fleeting but beautiful. That also describes my two days of drawing. See
I am not finished but almost finished. It needs just a little tweaking. Drawing is wonderful. I bird to draw & I draw to bird.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Drawing egrets

Lately, I have been inspired to draw. I want to back off color and concentrate on line and value. Here is one of those drawing.