20 de mayo de 2022

Cloudland Canyon: My Favorite North Georgia State Park

Timber Rattlesnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27950294 - Timber Rattlesnake; Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

Descending the boulder-lined switchbacks, we entered the cool shadows of the canyon. Mountain laurel and Rhododendron decorate the walls and slopes; their delicious aromas delighting the senses. As we reach the gorge floor, we turn upstream toward the sound of thundering water and the dampness of the fall’s mists. A beautiful work of creation; a true temple not made by human hands. To date, Cloudland Canyon is my most favorite Georgia State Park in North Georgia that I’ve visited.

Cloudland Canyon
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27951003 - Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

The park's website is no exaggeration when it states, "Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic parks in Georgia. Home to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife." ​Although we had only a few days, an entire week could easily be spent within the park. The rim trails atop the canyon’s edges provide incredible views off into the distance and deep within the gorge itself. Once down into the gorge, the hike along the river provides no less than six waterfall views.

And the reptiles! What an abundance! Other than the swamps of south Georgia, I had never encountered so many great finds in such a short period. Plenty of lizard species and wonderful encounter with a large Timber Rattlesnake sprawled across the trail. A kingsnake pointed out by other hikers was the “cherry on top”.

Black Kingsnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27950676 - Black Kingsnake; Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

Black Kingsnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27951230 - Black Kingsnake; Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

Anotado en 20 de mayo de 2022 a las 06:01 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 11 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

18 de mayo de 2022

Bird Babies!

Chipping Sparrow
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78980153 - Chipping Sparrow; Clarke County, Georgia. May 16, 2018.

The rain has come and continues off and on throughout the day. I’m home early from work and have an opportunity for BYOB (Birding-Your-Own-Backyard). Babies are everywhere! No, I’m not talking about all the recent births in our church. But of all the bird babies in my backyard.

For a few days I’ve heard the light chirping of nestlings as diligent Chipping Sparrows parents make bug-runs back and forth. I track them down in the Sky Pencil bush at the corner of my house. Three babies crammed into a tiny nest!

Later, underneath the birdfeeder, I spot an ugly gray bird with black wings scraping through the mulch. Then out pops a female Towhee mom and “spoon-feeds” the little fledgling!

Not long after, the usual Downy Woodpecker is all of the sudden being trailed by a second Downy. Has it found a mate? But again, I see one feed the other I realize it is yet another fledgling in my backyard.

The bird parents are busy, busy, busy with all the birdie babies in my backyard.

Athens, Clark County, Georgia, May 16, 2018
Forecast: rain, high 77°. Rain overnight, low 66°
Sunrise 6:33 AM, sunset 8:29 PM

Anotado en 18 de mayo de 2022 a las 04:28 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

17 de mayo de 2022

Snapper Photo Session...

Snapping Turtle
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 79310720 - Common Snapping Turtle; Walton County, Georgia. May 17, 2018.

Last evening on my drive home from work I pulled a 6” Common Snapping Turtle out of the roadway on Highway 186. Thankfully I got to him before a large truck did!

He spent the night in the back of my pickup truck and got a photo session the next day. Taking him to a shallow mud puddle out back, I laid on my belly and got some neat shots at that perspective.

He was just as feisty and snappy as the big ones, but didn’t seem as threatening being only the size of my hand. Still, I was sure to keep my fingers away!

Snapping Turtle
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 79310720 - Common Snapping Turtle; Walton County, Georgia. May 17, 2018.

​Walton County, Georgia, May 17, 2018

  • Showers and thunderstorms, high 79°; showers tonight, 63°
  • Sunrise 6:30 AM, sunset 8:29 PM
  • Day length 13 hours, 58 minutes
  • Moon: waxing crescent, 5% illumination

Anotado en 17 de mayo de 2022 a las 05:26 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de mayo de 2022

Swallows Galore!

Barn Swallow
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78817022 - Barn Swallow; Walton County, Georgia. May 15, 2018.

The swallows are back for the summer! All day long for the last few weeks I’ve seen them darting, hawking and fluttering over the surface of the water retention pond. In snatching up insects, they leave patterns of concentric ripples in the water’s surface.

I knew that many were Barn Swallows, for they were once again building a nest outside the back door of my office back door. But after seeing a few of the other swallows stop their fluttering for just a moment, I could see some Rough-winged Swallows mixed in the bunch.

​Walton County, Georgia May 15, 2018

  • Forecast: Cloudy, 50% chance of thunderstorms; high 77°
  • Sunrise 6:33 AM, Sunset 8:26 PM
  • Day length: 13 hours, 52 minutes
  • Moon: waning crescent, 3% illumination.
Anotado en 16 de mayo de 2022 a las 03:04 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

15 de mayo de 2022

Family Fued

Angry Canada Goose
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78817028 - Canada Goose; Walton County, Georgia. May 15, 2018.

If you’ve been in a wetlands habitat or park in the spring, you’re probably familiar with the honking and hissing goose. I’ve been walking a pond or marsh for some wildlife photography and casually ignoring the geese while they ignore me. But unknown to me, their nest lay concealed in the reeds and I step too close. The goose gloves come off and its fighting time! If the female is on the nest, the ganger is usually standing guard nearby. Both parents will aggressively charge anyone that edges too close to their nest or young. Usually, the only injury sustained is to the weak-nerved human that trips and falls while running away.

This afternoon I observed a real goose fight. It was a bit different than the usual goose-to-human aggression: it was a family fued! Two Canada Goose families were resting near each other in the shade on the northern end of the pond. One family had small chicks, while the other had older, chicken-sized young. I didn't think I was that close, but as I approached, all of the the goslings in both families were startled and ran down into the pond, the two families of goslings mixing together.

Almost immediately, one of the parents of the smaller goslings began to chase and attack the larger goslings. This prompted a parent of the larger goslings to fly over and attack that adult! In a flash, other nearby adult geese flew over to join the fight. It all lasted about two minutes – splashing and honking and hissing - until both families sorted themselves out and swam into the pond in their respective family groups.

Angry Canada Goose
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78817026 - Canada Goose; Walton County, Georgia. May 15, 2018.

Walton County, Georgia May 15, 2018

  • Cloudy, high 77°; 50% chance of afternoon storms
  • Sunrise 6:33 AM, sunset 8:26 PM
  • Day length: 13 hours, 55 minutes
  • New Moon
Anotado en 15 de mayo de 2022 a las 12:08 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Plain-Bellied Watersnake Glamour Photo Session

A photo session with a Plain-bellied Watersnake, Nerodia erythrogaster, taken out of a garage on an animal control call in Walton County, Georgia USA and released.

Anotado en 15 de mayo de 2022 a las 12:35 AM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de mayo de 2022

Hate's the last thing they're thinking of...

Green Anole
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78584159 - Mating Green Anoles; Clarke County, Georgia. May 13, 2018.

I’m almost a bit embarrassed to post the photos of this private moment between two Carolina Green Anoles on my back patio. When I first spotted them on the tiki torch, I thought it was a lizard battle, for one had a solid bite upon the other’s neck. But upon closer examination I realized I was wrong.

Sometimes “love” in the animal kingdom isn’t all about comfort, tenderness and affection. But isn’t it that way with us too? Our relationships and interactions have their share of quarrels and disagreements. Any outside observer of one of those "discussions" might assume the couple hate each other. But that is all a part of love.

​As the Grateful Dead sang in one of my favorite songs, Looks Like Rain, ”Did you ever waken to the sound of street cats making love? You guess from the cries you were listening to a fight. Well you know, hate’s just the last thing their thinking of.” That's what lasting relationships are made of: we fight, we forgive, we grow. Though I suppose it's all on a much simpler level for lizards!

Anotado en 13 de mayo de 2022 a las 10:03 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de mayo de 2022

Whoa, what's that!?!

I purposely take the backroads on my drive to-and-from work everyday. Most days it is just a boring drive, but you never know. I always keep my camera next to me in the truck just in case a wildlife photography moment happens to materialize.

Fox Squirrel
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 17866848 - Fox Squirrel; Oconee County, Georgia. May 12, 2017.

When driving just about anywhere in the eastern United States, it never fails that a squirrel will cross your path (and many don’t always make it across the road). But seeing those brown Eastern Gray and Fox Squirrels all the time, it isn’t worth pulling over for a photo. But on this particular pass through Watkinsville, Georgia, a black squirrel caught my eye. I don’t see that too often!

According to sources, there are three color phases of the Fox Squirrel. In most areas they are the usual brownish-red color, while in eastern regions such as the Appalachians there are darker brown and black squirrels with white bands on the face and tail. In some areas of the south there are communities with uniform black coats.

On my last encounter with a black Fox Squirrel on a drive home, I wasn’t quite ready with my camera and only managed some blurry shots. But this guy was different. He was standing on his rear legs under an oak tree on the right-hand side of the road as I passed by. Wanting a better shot, I turned the truck around and headed back. Upon returning, he had crossed the road into the front yard of a nice, rustic, country home.

Surprisingly, he didn’t take off when I pulled into the gravel driveway. I fired a few shots from the open truck window. I didn’t want to push my luck, but I put it in park and opened my door. Still, he didn’t take off! He stood posed with an acorn in his mouth! This guy was so compliant I was even able to use two lenses! He watched and waited while I switched to my 300mm lens. I really didn’t want to miss documenting this encounter! It pays to be ready!

Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia

  • Forecast: Sunny with a 30% chance of thunderstorms; high near 84°
  • Sunrise 6:43 AM; Sunset 8:26 PM
  • Day length: 13 hours, 51 minutes
  • Moon: 97% waning gibbous
Anotado en 12 de mayo de 2022 a las 02:53 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observación | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de mayo de 2022

The Struggle of Predator and Prey

Phinizy Swamp nature journal excerpt from April 30, 2021...

Walking along the feeder canal that runs through the middle of the Phinizy Swamp Nature Center impounds, I heard the most pathetic frog calling. Looking into the green slime and bubbles, I saw an American Bullfrog twisting and turning, apparently drowning. But after my attention was fully fixed, I found the cause. A long, thin (and probably very hungry) Banded Watersnake was attached to the bullfrog’s leg!

Predator and prey both struggled for some time – the bullfrog to get away, the watersnake to swallow a meal that looked a bit too big. In the five minutes I watched, the watersnake was able to maneuver the frog in his mouth, swallow one back leg, and try to fold the other leg forward as it attempted to engulf the frog’s torso.

Banded Watersnake and American Bullfrog
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 77635303 - Banded Watersnake and American Bullfrog; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Georgia. April 30, 2021.

It was getting late and I could not watch the end of the struggle. But knowing the unhinging jaws and stretching skin of the reptile, the frog’s struggle probably ended with the satisfaction of the watersnake’s appetite.

Phinizy Swamp Nature Park; Richmond County, Augusta, Georgia. April 30, 2021

  • ​Sunny, high 84 F
  • Sunrise 6:40 AM; Sunset 8:10 PM
  • Day length 13 hours, 29 minutes (+1min 46sec)
Anotado en 09 de mayo de 2022 a las 06:49 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

03 de mayo de 2022

Walton Wildlife Walk

Nature journal excerpt from April 30, 2019...

Great Blue Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 24219393 - Great Blue Heron; Walton County, Georgia. April 30, 2019.

Tuesday, 7:00 AM - I headed into Walton County an hour earlier this morning. Am I that dedicated to my job? Actually, I am. But is wasn’t for work that I came in early. The sun is up earlier now and I could get in an hour of birding and wildlife photography before clocking in. And it was a productive morning! I believe I hit my Walton all-time birding high: 43 taxa!

Not only did I get a rather high bird count, but spotted a few other critters as well. A Beaver was swimming the upper pond and a Northern Watersnake was cutting across the main retention pond. In the secluded wetlands area south of the jail I spotted a Green Heron skulking in the shadows; my first spotting for this spring season. While pursuing the heron, a Louisiana Waterthrush sang repeatedly overhead. What a great morning!

Great Blue Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 24219393 - Great Blue Heron; Walton County, Georgia. April 30, 2019.

Anotado en 03 de mayo de 2022 a las 02:21 PM por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario