Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update on Dragonflies


On Saturday, I went to help with a butterflies count up at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Being with Mike Chapman is a great way to learn. He is a fountain of information. I met the group and lucked out because both Fitz Clark and Lois Stacey knew their dragonflies. I found out I was right about the Eastern Pondhawk. Lois told me that they were the Cattle Egrets of the dragonfly world. They like to follow us because we are stirring up bugs for them to eat. Is that not cool? I had lots of these around all day. I actually photographed this female which looks very different from the male. They are big dragonflies so they are easy to spot as well.
Now to the other dragonfly I labeled Wandering Glider. I had Lois and Giff Beaton tell me that it is not a glider but a skimmer. They get it down to either a Gold-winged Skimmer or a Needham’s Skimmer. My photo is not good enough to firmly nail it down. So it is not a Wandering Glider but a Golden-winged Skimmer type. Any way you look at it, these dragonflies inspire the imagination. Gold-winged and gliders and skimmers, what wonderful names and they are fun to watch.
While at Harris Neck, we found a few more. Here is a Amanda's Pennant. Please give Fitz Clarke the credit for this image. Isn't it beautiful.Here is a Duckweed Firetail.
By the way Harris Neck NWR is a hotspot for birding as well. Here is a picture from the dike at Woody Pond. You never know what you might find. You can drive around on the wildlife drive or you can hike or bike around it. This is our group hiking back to our cars.

Friday, July 24, 2009

In the pink

Well, it has been a long haul. All the calling, emailing, talking we did to get all the field trips lined up along with the seminars and workshops but the Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival booklet is at the printers and I am in the pink for the weekend. In celebration I thought I would show some of the pink things I watched today. I was coming back from Jekyll Island. There is a long traffic light while sitting there I look over and this is what I saw.

Can you blame me for pulling off and admiring them?
On the way out to the south end of Jekyll I stop to photograph these Little Pinks. I just held up my little point and shoot and fired away. I am an artist to the core. I didn't care about sharpness of the shots. I wanted to show off how these delicate flowers bring a softness to the hot, harsh environment of the dunes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Exploring the Indian Mound Golf Course

Last Wednesday, I went out at 8:30 am to do some research for the Golf Cart Nature Tours. After talking to Harry Kicklighter, the Director of Golf for Jekyll Island, I changed my route and it worked. First thing, there was a young Osprey still sitting in the nest and the parent sitting across the road calling for it to fly. There are around six or seven nests of Ospreys on Jekyll so you do get used to hearing them calling to each other.







At the first stop away from the road, there were several birds feeding on the ground one of those was a female/immature Painted Bunting. You know the males are stunning but the green on this bird match the green of the tee. Pretty awesome. Here is where I encountered my first dragonfly. I am going to learn these insects so here is my first stab at it. If you know dragonflies, please feel free to correct me. Then we all can learn together.
I think this is a Wandering Glider. Don't you just love the name? Wandering Glider just sounds like something I would want to do on a hot, lazy summer day.







There are dragonflies all over the golf course. I found lots of dragonflies in these two area.
Here is a Eastern Pondhawk or at least that is as close as I could come with my nonexistent knowledge of them. Once again we are here to learn.
Talk about learning, I found these birds flitting around the path. They had me stumped until the parents started fussing at me and calling them. Those adult Northern Parulas were the ONLY clue to the identities of these birds.






I finished my morning at the number 4 hole's pond with lots of Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons and Anhinga. Watch, the babies are the ones jumping around. They are trying out their wings.
video
The next day, they advertised the tour on an outdoor sign at the end of the St. Simons Island Causeway. They used one of my sketches. It is a bit intimidating to see your sketch blow up four feet by six feet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Raining

My my, how time does fly by. I have been out birding and trying to learn about butterflies and dragonflies all the while dodging rain. On Friday, the Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival's booklet went to the printer. YEA!
I thought I would show you the clouds.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Evening on Pine Lakes

Yesterday Wednesday July 8, at about 5:20 I was at the Jekyll Island Golf Club. I was doing research for a brand new nature tour I have been asked to lead. We are going to offer nature tours of the golf courses in golf carts. Jekyll Island has three golf courses. They are Oleander, Indian Mound and Pine Lakes. This area is rich with history. As I learn more of the history on these golf courses I will pass it on to you.

Last evening I explored Pine Lakes with a sneak over to Indian Mound number 4 pond. Let me tell you it is fun to drive the carts. My first stop was the tee off at the second hole. (Sorry guys I do not play golf so I not sure of my terms. I would like some help here.) Anyway, at my first stop I had my first Eastern Bluebird. It was flying around flycatching with other birds. Flycatchers seem to like this course for I had a good many Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Kingbirds and Great Crested Flycatchers. I then skipped over to hole number five. Last winter, my golfer buddies would tell me that the Bald Eagle was seen regularly in this area. I wondered if would be here. Earlier in the day the adult Bald Eagle was up on it pole on the causeway. Well, I did not see the eagle but what I did find was a lovely bog area. It should be great in August and September for migrating birds. On my way to the lakes at holes number 11 and 12, I stumbled on a little group of birds feasting on insects. There was a beautiful Yellow-throated Warbler about 10 feet in front of me catching moths. It was working low in the palmetto. I did not think fast enough to get my camera out. Here is an etching I did a few years ago. The lakes are the big draw to the birds. The Pine Lakes pond at number 11 had three Roseate Spoonbills and eight immature White Ibis. But when I bounced over to the pond on Indian Mound, It was loaded with birds. Nesting Tricolored Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets and Anhinga were everywhere. This is going to be a fun two-hour tour. If you want to join me, the tours will run either on Fridays or Wednesdays. Check with the Jekyll Island Golf Club for times and places. It is only $15 a person. This is going to be a fun way to spend an evening or a morning.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gull-billed Terns

Last Wednesday the tide was low around the wharf near the Jekyll Island Club. A Little Blue Heron was surveying the mud for a tidbit of food when I arrived. While watching the inch-by-inch search of the heron, a tern caught my eye.
A Gull-billed Tern, my goodness, that tern is one handsome bird. I followed it as it dipped and dived on the north side of the wharf. Soon two more joined it. I understand they nest on the new bird-nesting island near the north end of Jekyll. This island was created from material dredged out of the river just for the birds. Gull-billed Terns spend most of their time in the marsh. It is hard to predict where you will find them so I was thrilled to watch them for a while.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ware County Georgia Breeding Bird Survey cont

Wild flowers and unique trees are part of what makes this Breeding Bird Survey so interesting. Some of these plants need fire to grow.

In 2007 three wildfires raged through the area. The last ten stops were especially ravaged. Here are some photos just after the fire with how it is recovering.




fire at Melton Road in 2007


June 28, 2009 Milton Road

This was between stops around number 48 in 2007. The fires just scorched the ground.
Now in 2009 it is coming back. The grass is lush and thick.




stop number 49 in 2007

the same stop in 2009 Our May and June have been very wet and the White Ibis are doing quite well here. In the front of this image there are some whitish flowers. They are called Paint Root because the root are used to make a red dye. Sandhill Cranes enjoy eating the roots of this plant in the winter. This area is just fascinating but you have to look very close. Thanks to Sheila, I have learned to see it for the very special place it is.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ware County Breeding Bird Survey

Last Sunday I ran my Ware County, Georgia Breeding Bird Survey. This is my twenty-second year to run the survey. Memories always flood back when I step out the van at each stop. My father and I started running this together. Then when he died, I ran it by myself. A few years back Sheila Willis started assisting me. Sheila has a wealth of knowledge about this area. Riding with her, I learn about this unique area. This is the north side of the Okefenokee Swamp. From stop nineteen to stop 50, I am traveling the Old Swamp Road. A few families have lived here for a very long time. Here is a cemetery with graves with marker that date to 1820’s. Those are the one with the roof over them. It is a well-attended cemetery. The graves always have fresh flowers on them. There is a bench place by on graves. One grave has stuffed animals around it. This cemetery is toward the end of my survey well in the swamp. It is fascinating to learn about the swamp from Sheila. This is not what you would think of as a swamp but it is. Sheila tell me a little bit about the plants that define the swamp. Here is Ogeechee lime.
It is found along the little creeks that riddle the area. All summer this relative of the Black gum grows fruit. Here is Sheila talking about it. video