Warm Springs Cypress in Display Pool

Warm Springs Cypress in  Display Pool
Warm Springs Cypress in Display Pool

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Finding Gold in Botany Bay

Because of the shutdown, I have no work to do.  So when my friend, Laurel, who is currently renting a house about five and a half hours from me, invited me to visit, I jumped at the chance to go have a LOT of fun, because that is always what Laurel and I do.  We are both avid photographers and birders and Laurel tries her best to keep me active all day.

One of the best places to enjoy birds is Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area, only a few minutes away.  Today the tide was low enough at sunrise for us to walk on the beach - it has been mostly destroyed by Hurricanes and the land is subsiding, so there is only a beach at low tide.

We managed to be the first ones in, sliding into our parking space just ahead of the several cars of a photography group.  We were on the beach for the first chance  of sunrise, which didn't seem like it was going to be much.

I thought this little cloud would be the entire sunrise - took this mostly as a joke

But were we delighted to find ourselves wrong.

Come along.

The light did improve a little and a little color spread out, helped with taking the pictures in supersaturated mode.

Beach view before sunrise

Laurel's favorite tree made for a lovely scene

This is where I was when the sun came up

I fell behind Laurel as we each lost ourselves in our pictures. Just as I caught up with her, a rainbow appeared. It started up with only one side but soon spread to a full one. A second full one tried to appear, but we could only see the two sides near the ground.

You can barely see the second rainbow forming here

Photo by Laurel - She changed to her 10mm lens to get this marvel

I loved watching the big pillows of foam float around and form sculptures with the stumps out in the water 

I love the weathered textures and colors in the fallen trees

While walking back to our car, on the boardwalk over the marsh, Laurel found me a wood stork to photograph, in the now gray light.  We spent the rest of the morning catching some good light and finding great birds, sometimes even at the same time.  We took the driving tour for the fourth time this visit, finding new and different scenes and birds. 

Wood stork

We had been looking for this red headed woodpecker for three visits - that big white T flying across
 the road caught my eye. In my best posed pictures, he doesn't appear to have an eye. 

One of my favorite views from the driving tour - a typical low country view

I watched one of these great egrets fly in and walk towards another bird.  This was the middle picture
of them walking toward each other, then walking away.

There were several yellowlegs in the area, but I was only able to bag this one

This view is on my side of the car.  Every time we go around the loop, I have to look back up this little creek to check for birds.  Today the light was so beautiful on the resurrection fern, she made me take this picture.

We found five turkeys near the end of the loop today.  Laurel was able to grab this shot before the tall grass hid them. 

I only have two more days here but I expect to have lots more pictures.  We have two days of photography lined up. And I think we'll be seeing much more sun than we did for the first few days.  I  will post some of our other finds in my next blog. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Busman's Holiday

I don't have as much to do as I did last year, so am spending most of my time blowing leaves..  The rest of my time involves managing the Aquarium - opening, closing, feeding, cleaning. I"m also gathering information on local butterflies and the host plants they need. And we are having an early wet winter.  It has been cold enough for long johns.

All these factors are keeping me from experiencing new adventures and leaving me with a lot of time to be bored. So I leaped at a chance to take part in a workday at Callaway Gardens, a private garden only fourteen miles away.  While there, I was recruited to come back at times of my choosing so have spent a few more days working there.  I started by helping to pick up fallen branches, then moved on to planting pansies and bulbs. I found I can take my bike and ride, or enjoy a walk while I'm there. I also found that the fee for the annual pass has jumped to seventy-nine dollars, a price out of my range.  But this way. I can volunteer for several hours and then enjoy the rest of the day there.

The Butterfly Center - were were planting in beds around it

Some of the pansies we planted - we added several kinds of bulbs behind them

A leftover bloom from a summer plant

Ornamental grasses add fall interest

The fall colors were still magnificant - until our last two storms

I was taking these pictures on the way to work

They have lots of huge American hollies
The log cabin - they have a vegetable/herb garden in front of it in raised beds 

I think these are collard greens

The garden is in raised beds, which, while not traditional, ARE the best way to grow vegetables

The next batch of pictures are from my second visit to  Callaway Gardens. I can get there two ways, so this time, I went through Roosevelt State Park on the top of Pine Mountain. I got a bit of sunrise on a mostly cloudy day. When I got there, I couldn't find anyone at the meeting place, so took a walk while waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive.


This was the site of today's planting - beds on either side of the walkway.

The trail just past the entrance

What a stunning place to sit and enjoy the view

I spent a lot of time watching a pileated woodpecker work this hole

The leaves were the stars here

These were backlight, making the glow

More fall color

Even the leaves underfoot were fascinating

More beauty

I came past the chapel and then found this vantage point for a great view of it

I thought this was a native plant - but can't find it in my Georgia Wildflower app

I found the skeleton of this weeping tree striking

There are lots of streams and lakes to enjoy

This is one of their Japanese maples in stunning bloom

Camellias are blooming but many are bedraggled from rain storms

On my third visit, I took a little time to visit the Butterfly Center. There were not a lot of butterflies out and it was way to hot to be wearing long Johns and a fleece shirt, so I didn't stay long. 

I'm still blowing leaves and should be blowing now, except it has been raining all day.  I'll have to work tomorrow to make it up, provided the rain stops in time.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Gopher Tortoise Project

The gopher tortoise is in decline throughout its range.  Especially in the western half of the range, it is subject to be listed as endangered. It is a keystone species of the longleaf pine forest with three hundred and sixty species dependent on the burrows it digs. So to lose this species would destroy the ecosystem. Georgia Department of Natural Resources is working with several other agencies, both to buy land suitable for gopher tortoise habitat, and to run a head start program to raise tortoises two years, to get them bigger than two year old wild tortoises and to have harder shells, which will  make them more able to survive predation.

One of those partners working to save the gopher tortoise is the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Warm Springs Fish Hatchery just received both one year old tortoises and tortoises that hatched this past September/October. Our job is to keep them warm and feed them a diet of tortoise food, minerals, and three kinds of greens - spring mix, collards, and turnip greens. The plan is to keep them so warm all winter that, they will eat instead of hibernating,  thus growing much faster than tortoises living in the wild.

We have to finely chop their greens up, then mix them with moistened tortoise food and the added minerals. We clean their water bowls and give them fresh water daily, plus we water the rye grass we have to keep planting in their bins. The rye grass is to help them learn to forage. We have to clean each food bowl before giving about a tablespoon of fresh food per each pair.  And once a week, they have to have a soaking bath in warm water.

We are currently jammed into a tiny room, while waiting for our new fish holding building to get finished. Then we will move the sturgeon project to the new fish building and will take over that building. It is at least four times bigger. Meanwhile, two of us have to learn to move together and learn how to contort ourselves past the lights to get into the corners, where we grow rye grass.

The view from the door. There is a sink  to my right
and the other side forms a U-shape with the rest.

There are two tortoises per bin. They each have their own burrow,
although sometimes they share one of the borrows. 
Food, water, and burrow make up a tortoise's needs


This tortoise is very interested in what we are doing. It is waiting for its breakfast.

Another eager eater.  Many tortoises are not this eager. 

He is either getting a drink or just dirtying his water

Each tortoise came to us with a unique, three digit number on its carapace. Numbers are also
on a card attached to the bin, so we can sort them to the correct bins after their group bath. 

Bath time - they get to soak in warm water once a week 

These are hatchlings from this year

On a personal note, I actually ran out of blog material. I was chased from Colorado by a storm, that when it got to Texas, caused major flooding in eighteen counties. Every river in the Texas Hill Country was in flood. Then I had car problems over several days, and also had to help my friend, Natalie, get her house and yard ready to sell her house. Then I followed another storm to Louisiana and on over to Georgia. Most days have been cloudy and cold since I've been here. I have volunteered once at Calloway Gardens and will volunteer again on Monday.  So there just hasn't been time to do many blogs. I'm back where I lived last year, so you can catch up on my living arrangements, and a little about the hatchery here.