Ιούνιος 21, 2023

Texas Birding Spark

A look back at photos from June 21, 2012 from one of my annual trips to Driftwood, Texas to visit my parents...

White-winged Dove
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 20137281 - White-winged Dove; Hays County, Texas. June 21, 2012.

I have to admit, at this point in my life, birds weren't much of an interest for me... yet. My passion was herping; rock-flipping for snakes and lizards. The biggest thrill would be to find a hefty Texas rattlesnake. But mostly because of a longer zoom lens, a spark of excitement began to grow for the avian kind on this trip. Instead of keeping my lens pointed at the deer and reptiles, birds began to take the spotlight. I recall sitting and watching the hummingbirds feed in the lantanas when a brilliant red Summer Tanager appeared nearby. From this point forward, birds began to appear much more regularly in my photo journals.

Red-winged Blackbird
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 20138525 - Red-winged Blackbird; Hays County, Texas. June 21, 2012.

Posted on Ιούνιος 21, 2023 0609 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 10 παρατηρήσεις | 3σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Απρίλιος 07, 2023

Backyard American Bullfrog

April 7, 2019 nature journal entry...

American Bullfrog
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 22507797 - American Bullfog; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. April 7, 2019.

The weather is warming and the days are getting longer. I can finally start enjoying Sunday sit-downs on my back patio! It is time to clean the dead leaves and algae from my backyard koi pond, not to mention the incredible amounts of pine pollen that clog the filters each spring. As I start the process, I found a large visitor has returned. I have no idea where it over-winters, but it is already back and living the good life!

This native American Bullfrog is quite common here in Georgia and throughout North America. It should be no big surprise to find it in my koi pond since one source states, "Bullfrogs can also be found in manmade habitats such as pools, koi ponds, canals, ditches and culverts." Each summer it spends its days sitting on the decorative stones only to make a quick and dramatic splash into the water each time we come out onto the back patio.

American Bullfrog
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 22507797 - American Bullfog; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. April 7, 2019.

Of course, I am never one to pass up a good nature photography opportunity. So as I am able to net this large amphibian while cleaning the pond, I took it to the side for a quick photo session in a more natural setting.

Posted on Απρίλιος 07, 2023 1105 ΠΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 παρατήρηση | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 06, 2023

Mallards and Geese Ready for Spring!

Looking back on a springtime birding blog from March 6, 2015...

Canada Goose
© Photographer: William Wise | Canada Goose; Walton County, Georgia. February 14, 2018.

A pair of Canada Geese have returned to the pond at work, no doubt to have more batches of babies again this year. Even the resident Mallards have donned their striking breeding plumage and have begun pairing up. Soon the Mallards will begin their displays and aggressive, territorial chases around the pond.

​Walton County, Georgia

Canada Goose
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 29968894 - Canada Goose; Walton County, Georgia. March 6, 2015.

Posted on Μάρτιος 06, 2023 0253 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 παρατήρηση | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Φεβρουάριος 18, 2023

Day Hike in Vogel State Park, Georgia

Vogel State Park is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia. The following is from my nature photography journal on February 18, 2013...

Icicles in Mountain Stram
© Photographer: William Wise | - Mountain Stream in Vogel State Park; Union County, Georgia. February 18, 2013.

A crisp breeze moves through the pines. The continuous climb of the stream-side trail elicits some heavy breathing which can be seen in the chilled air, cleansing the lungs. An array of crystal spikes hang inverted from the fallen trees that straddle the waterfall and drip shimmering, crystal drops. What a beautiful day for a hike! What a beautiful place to do it!

Vogel State Park is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia. It is one of my favorites as it embodies that Appalachian Mountain beauty. The well-laid trails are perfect for even young hikers like my daughters. As we learned at an interpretive lesson that evening at the park headquarters, much of the park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. Those were tough depression days, but they spared no gift in laying out this park.

After several hours, we make it to the peak of Bear Hair Gap Trail. An overlook through the trees reveals Lake Trahlyta far below. At 2,500 feet elevation it is one of Georgia's highest altitude state parks. My desire was to backpack the Coosa Backcountry Trail, which leads to the Appalachian Trail near Neel Gap, but my girls are still far too young. But still, this day hike is quite fulfilling, soaking in the mountain landscapes.

Icicles in Mountain Stram
© Photographer: William Wise | - Mountain Stream in Vogel State Park; Union County, Georgia. February 18, 2013.

Posted on Φεβρουάριος 18, 2023 0806 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Φεβρουάριος 14, 2023

Canada Goose Pair Return to Nest

February 14, 2018 nature journal entry...
Canada Goose
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66741134 - Canada Goose; Walton County, Georgia. February 14, 2018.

Wednesday, 2:45 PM – it looks like the last Redhead duck has left at last. The lone male that has remained the last few days was nowhere to be seen this morning or afternoon. However, a pair of Canada Geese have been back on the pond the last few days. Each year we get at least one pair to nest and raise young on the water retention pond. I wonder if these are the same pair that had goslings on our pond in seasons past?

  • ​Walton County, Georgia
  • Mostly cloudy, gray skies, 63°
  • Sunrise 7:19 AM; sunset 6:16 PM
  • Day length: 10 hours, 57 minutes
  • Moon: waning crescent, 1% illumination
Posted on Φεβρουάριος 14, 2023 0425 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Φεβρουάριος 13, 2023

Looking Back to a Frosty February in 2010

I know for some of my Northern neighbors this is no big deal, but here in Georgia a blanket of snow doesn't happen often and we get quite excited about it! This is an entry from my nature photography journal exactly thirteen years ago today...

Snow in a Field
© Photographer: William Wise | Snow in Georgia; Athens- County, Georgia. February 13, 2010.

9:27 AM - I woke earlier this morning to find that the flurries that began yesterday evening didn't melt away like they usually do. In fact, the snowfall continued into the night and a light blanket of snow hung on through the night to leave an inch thick coating of wet, clinging snow all around us. We had a beautiful white landscape that isn't often seen in our southern climes. But the day quickly warmed and our winter wonderland was almost all gone by evening. Oh well. Maybe we'll have another next year.

Snow in a Field
© Photographer: William Wise | Snow in Georgia; Athens- County, Georgia. February 13, 2010.

Posted on Φεβρουάριος 13, 2023 0407 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Δεκέμβριος 20, 2022

Winter Fog

December 18, 2017 nature journal entry...
Song Sparrow
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 36645984 - Song Sparrow; Walton County, Georgia. December 18, 2017.

Monday, 7:58 AM – in the upper forties at sunrise; much warmer than Saturday’s 28° morning. The warmer air made for lots of fog on the drive into work. Before starting my day, I walked up to the main retention pond to check for any new ducks. A female Hooded Merganser practiced solo dives out in the fog; a Kingfisher was barely discernable. Heading back into the office, a Song Sparrow was watching my footsteps as I passed by the blackberry and Mimosa tangles near the shelter back door.

Walton County, Georgia

  • Forecast: morning fog, slight chance of afternoon showers; cloudy, high 62°
  • Sunrise 7:33 AM; sunset 5:27 PM.
  • Day length: 9 hours, 53 minutes
  • Near new moon.
Posted on Δεκέμβριος 20, 2022 0744 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Οκτώβριος 21, 2022

Upcoming Fall Okefenokee Swamp NWR Trip!

It’s time for a fall trip to my favorite destination: the Okefenokee Swamp! It’s been a long, busy summer so I’m happy to get away for a few days of absolute peace. I’ll be making a solo trip and hitting a few of the canoe trails that I haven’t covered yet.

I plan to leave around 4 AM and make the drive down to arrive at the Stephen C Foster State Park and launch by 10 AM. I have a wilderness permit reserved for the Canal Run platform the first night. With this permit, I’ll be able to paddle a section of the orange trail I haven’t yet explored. After a night in the swamp, I’ll paddle back to SCF State Park, load up and drive around south of the swamp to the eastern entrance at the Suwannee Canal Recreation area where I have a cabin rented at Okefenokee Pastimes for two nights. I’ll spend the next two days paddling an out-and-back down the pink trail to Monkey lake and then the green trail from Kingfisher Landing to Bluff Lake and back.


The yellow arrows point to the trail sections I'll cover this trip

​My current species count within the refuge stands at 286 (see www.inaturalist.org/projects/www-okefenokee-photography-by-william-wise). It will be difficult to increase that species count too much, but I’ll certainly be able to reach over 2,000 photographed observations within the great Okefenokee on this trip. I can't wait!


A map of my current iNaturalist observations within the Refuge

Want to make a virtual exploration of the Okefenokee Swamp? Every few days receive a blog featuring nature journals, articles, book excerpts and natural history of the alligators, reptiles, birds, insects, flora and other fauna of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Subscribe at https://okefenokee.photography/. You can also join the Okefenokee NWR Project here on iNaturalist to view all of the wonderful Okefenokee iNaturalist observations.

Posted on Οκτώβριος 21, 2022 0757 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιούνιος 11, 2022

Confused Heron

From my June 2012 nature journal...
Great Blue Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 20052938 - Great Blue Heron; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. June 11, 2012.

I was on the last half-mile stretch of my daily 35 mile commute when I spotted a Great Blue Heron standing in a neighbor’s front yard, right next to the sidewalk. “Now that’s weird”, I thought to myself. He was standing alongside a dry, rock-lined drainage ditch as if he were fishing for food. But that little drainage ditch was dry!

Only after heavy rains does that drain have any water, and even then it is only about an inch deep. But I suppose from up in the air, with the sun reflecting off the concrete, it may look like a tiny stream. Somehow it had attracted his attention.

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is the largest North American heron. It is a year-round resident in Georgia. Their primary diet is fish, but I have photographed plenty snapping up frogs, snakes, dragonflies and other insects.

Looking more closely, I could see his feathers weren’t fully formed. Short, neatly rowed, un-tattered feathers lined his side and back. There were no long plumes down his back or from the crown of the head like the typical adult heron. Perhaps this was an inexperienced juvenile, striking out on his own to find new feeding grounds. Well, he wasn’t going to find any fish in a dry, cement lined drainage ditch!

  • Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
Posted on Ιούνιος 11, 2022 0351 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 παρατήρηση | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιούνιος 10, 2022

Green Mamba???

From my June 10, 2016 nature journal...
Rough Greensnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30531059 - Rough Greensnake; Walton County, Georgia. June 10, 2016.

A frantic 911 caller sent one of our animal control officers out to catch this "highly venomous Green Mamba" they had in their house. No doubt, it must have escaped from an exotic animal breeder somewhere nearby (right). Well, actually, it was just a Rough Green Snake; a very common and harmless garden variety snake found here in Georgia. But a very beautiful specimen nonetheless!

Rough Greensnakes (Opheodrys aestivus) are probably the most arboreal snakes in our region and spend the majority of their time hunting for insects, spiders, and other invertebrates in vegetation well above the ground. When encountered, greensnakes often freeze, relying on their green coloration for camouflage. (Source: Savannah River Ecology Laboratory website)

Greensnakes are quite camouflaged in the wild, blending in with the other slender green vines and vegetation. I’ve often walk by one only to have it drop from a branch and slither away quicker than a photo can be taken. This specimen, however, was quite easy to photograph. A little bit of handling tired it out and it became fairly docile. It let me use a variety of lenses as I posed it in a nearby tree for some more natural looking photographs.

Many harmless snakes are misidentified and unfortunately killed. In our region (the southeastern United States), there are only a few species of venomous snakes. Learning to identify the few venomous snakes might save a harmless and ecologically beneficial snake’s life next time it happens to crawl into your home.

​Walton County, Georgia

Rough Greensnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30531059 - Rough Greensnake; Walton County, Georgia. June 10, 2016.

Posted on Ιούνιος 10, 2022 0225 ΜΜ by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 παρατήρηση | 3σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο