Thursday, April 30, 2009

Daffodils #9, #10 and #11

These daffodils were planted last fall. They began blooming on March 7th, 8th and 9th, respectively.

Daffodil #9

Daffodil #10

Daffodil #11

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canada Goose: Goslings

On the same day as I spotted the Canada goose nest, I rowed further along the shoreline by the group cottages (Segment 10). Since I had checked for other boats at the beginning of the segment and this is an uncomplicated shoreline, I started to row along it without looking around. I’m not sure what caught my attention. I think a gander started to honk an alarm and I looked to my left and was rewarded by the site of a goose and gander with goslings right at the water’s edge.

The chance of getting photos was pretty low but it was worth a shot. I stopped and pulled out my camera. I managed to get these shots. The goose and gander were at the water’s edge with seven goslings.

Understandably they moved up the slope with the goslings scurrying along with them. It is interesting that this pair has goslings already. The other breeding pairs are just beginning to sit nests. This pair is about a month ahead of the other pairs.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Canada Goose: Nesting

About a week ago, I rowed into an inlet (Segment 9) and startled a gander who honked vociferously at me. He swam to the bank a little further into the inlet and joined a goose on the shore. I didn’t given it another thought.

A few days later, I pulled into the shore in the same inlet and spent some time photographing rhododendron flowers; this is an area that would be challenging to get to on foot. As I pulled away from the shore, I happened to look to the left and found that I had been sitting less than 10 m from the nest.

It's always fascinated me that Canada geese nest in such open locations. In spite of the nest being as exposed as this one, it is really quite well camouflaged. The goose blends into her surroundings by adopting a low profile pose that doesn't expose her light breast and her characteristic white neck patch that is visible in this photo.

The goose is sitting tight now. The gander is nowhere in sight - obviously not hanging around the inlet to give away the location of the nest. I’ll be giving the area a wide berth for the next month or so.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Piedmont Azalea: Rhododendron canescens

The Piedmont azaleas have been in full bloom at the lake over the last few weeks, making splashes of color at many places around the lake.

This bush is along the lake shore between the campground and the dam (Segment 7). The best view is from the water.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lake Rescue: Longjawed Orbweaver (Tetragnatha versicolor)

Last Saturday, I noticed this little guy drop into the water. It managed to set up to float but it wasn’t going to reach land for some time. Since I carry a bamboo pole with me, I retrieved it from the water and deposited it safely on a log nearby – but not before I took some photos.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yellow-bellied Slider: Trachemys scripta scripta

It's a sure sign of spring. Yellow-bellied Sliders are crawling out of the water onto logs and basking in the sun. They will be a common site now until the water warms up to where they can float just submerged with their snouts sticking just above the water’s surface. Even on Saturday, I spooked a couple of submerged turtles when I passed close by.

It’s going to be a little tough on turtle sunbathing this year. In past years, trees at the water’s edge have been felled to attract fish. Turtles climb onto the trunk and branches that extend above the water to bask in the sun. This year many of these branches have disintegrated. Roosts are going to be a premium.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Canada Geese: Branta canadensis

Back on the lake last Thursday night after a four-month break. It’s felt like a longer winter than usual with more really cold spells, rain, and long periods of strong winds. If winds are predicted to be 10-to-20 mph or higher I don’t like to go out on the water. One measure of how long the break was this year is that I missed the pine pollen season when the lake is covered with the stuff and the boat comes back in with a thick layer at the water line. Anyway… Thursday evening was my first trip out this year.

The trees are leafing out and the rhododendrons have started to bloom. And one of my favourite treats. The Canada geese are back. The breeding pairs. I believe I saw four pairs in
cluding the pair that nest – if you call a shallow depression on the ground a nest – near the group cottages and my favourite pair that nest on the small island near picnic area #2 (Segment 16). The goose from this pair has already settled in and her gander has assumed his guard duties.

This pair was at the edge of the water near the dam. I coasted to a stop almost directly opposite them and was quite surprised that the gander didn’t honk in protest. But he didn’t and I was actually able to take a couple of strokes to get into a better position to photograph. Sometimes I can get into position but the birds spook when I raise the camera to take the shot.

When I arrived the gander was clearly on guard. He was standing quite erect with his head extended. I managed to get this shot just before the guard duties shifted to the goose. She didn’t shift position at all. However, the gander definitely was no longer on duty. He turned his back to me and began grazing on grass, focused on tearing at a tuft that wasn’t yielding willingly, and completely unconcerned at my presence.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Mount Redoubt: On a Clear Day …

Today has been a spectacularly clear day at Mount Redoubt. Clearer than any day in the last few months. And there is little wind.

The steam is rising vertically from the crater.

In this image, you can see the light reflecting off the snow in the foreground.

The camera at the hut has been zoomed to show detail in the crater. A waterfall, approximately100m high, is visible near the center at the bottom of the field.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Marburg Creek Reservoir: Fort Yargo State Park

This is where I row. Most of the time. It’s the Marburg Creek Reservoir in Fort Yargo State Park about a mile south of Winder, Georgia. The park is a popular area for picnicking, camping, hiking, running, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and trail biking. The lake is a reservoir and covers about 260 acres (=105 hectares). The park is accessed from Georgia state highway GA-81; boat ramps are located at the campground accessed through the main entrance and in Section B. I’ve been rowing here since 2001. I row the lake’s shoreline since I am rowing for distance and the shoreline is far more interesting than rowing down the center of the lake. It’s also safer in cold weather. On the map, I have numbered the segments according to the ‘milestones’ they represent to me. For anyone interested in the distances involved, I have noted approximate cumulative distances traveled at the end of each segment. The numbers will serve as a guide when I describe some of the photos I’ll post in the future. The distances rowed may vary depending on how far from shore I have rowed. Closer to the shore will yield a longer row than if I stay further out to avoid hazard such as submerged, felled trees. If I row the complete route marked with the deep yellow line, I will have rowed a total of about 5.25 miles (8,400 m).

At the beginning: looking back at the footbridge by the boat launch

Segment 1. Beginning. I launch
at Boatramp #2 (Section B entrance), row across the lake beside the footbridge and then turn along the lake shore. The shoreline is open here for a power line right-of-way; it’s a good, accessible area to view a wide variety of wildflowers during the year. The woods come down to the waters edge at the end of this segment. At the very end of this segment I enjoy a challenge of rowing between the shore and a post that sticks up out of the water. It’s not much of a challenge if I aim correctly and if the water level is high enough; it is a challenge when the lake level is low. Distance: About 1/8th mile (ca. 200 m).

Segment 2. Beginning to the Point. The first part of this segment is open grassland, a wide right-of-way for high-tension power lines. Just after the woods begin again and where the shoreline curves around, there is a wide, shallow drainage inlet that is visible on the map. The shoreline from here to the point is wooded primarily with pines and has three or four drainage inlets; only one of these inlets is apparent in the map. When I first began rowing here, these inlets frequently had water in them. Now, most are gradually silting in and are dry unless the water level is high. The water is relatively shallow along this segment until the end when it becomes quite deep. Cumulative distance: About 0.75 miles (1,300 m).

Segment 3. The Neck
. This section begins opposite the beach and borders a relatively narrow section between this arm of the lake and the other arm. This shore includes three sizable inlets. Some remnants of felled trees provide hazards at the points. The terrain is wooded with deciduous trees, hilly and, consequently, the water is deep. Cumulative distance: About a mile (1,600 m).

Segment 4. Neck to the Dam. The shoreline is wooded with a mixture of pines and deciduous trees and the water is deep. There is only one felled tree hazard about one-quarter way along the shoreline; only a couple of branches breach the water surface now. In the late afternoon during the summer heat, this section provides very welcome shade, the first shaded section of the row. Cumulative distance: About 1.25 miles (2,000 m)

Segment 5. The Dam. It’s a straight row along the dam that is lined with boulders. The overflow for the lake is between one-third to one-half way along the dam. A gauge attached on the dam side that indicates the lake depth at this point. It’s interesting to watch the fluctuation in the lake depth throughout the year – usually between 23 an
d 24 feet. The top of the overflow tower is usually about 1.5 feet above the lake surface although I remember – before I began rowing on the lake - the tower being completely under water after a particularly heavy rainfall. Cumulative distance: About 1.5 miles (2,300 m).

Segment 6. Dam to the Campgrounds. At the end of the dam is a large shallow inlet that is not more than 2-3 feet deep and has an area of cattails. The shoreline here adjoins a flat, open grassy field. The shoreline then becomes steep and wooded with pines and some deciduous trees. The shoreline then becomes a cliff about 8-10 feet high in spots. There is one inlet about midway along its length and then the cliff resumes at the end of the segment. The water is relatively deep. Cumulative distance: About 1.75 miles (2,800 m).

Segment 7. The Campgrounds. Are heavily wooded with pines. A small fishing/boat dock and a boat ramp are located at the head of the first inlet followed by a peninsula (7a) that is a walk-in tent camping area. The second inlet is a longer drainage inlet bordered on one side by the walk-in campground and on the other by a large drive-in campground (7b). I normally don’t row into this inlet unless I’m looking for additional meters. This segment ends at a walk-to fishing dock adjacent to the drive-in campground and the water is relatively deep. Cumulative distance: About 2 miles (3,200 m).

Segment 8. Campgrounds to the Cottages. This is a lightly traveled section of the lake except for fishermen in boats. At the far end are a few cottages comprising a group home and a small fishing dock. The shoreline is opened woods with pines and deciduous trees, lined with boulders, and the water is deep with little accessible shoreline. Cumulative distance. About 2.25 miles (3,700 m).

Segment 9. Cottages to the Group Camp. The lake opens into a wide shallow bay with two drainage inlets. The first is a long inlet with a number of fallen trees blocking navigation; the second section is a wide bay with a less-obvious drainage. This area was hit by a tornado associated with hurricane Katrina on August 29th, 2005. It is estimated that the tornado path extended for 1.5 miles (2.5 km) and destroyed as many as 800-900 trees. Recoverable timber was harvested and but the area is still recovering; some areas have few trees. Some of the woods close to the lake were not affected by the tornado. A couple of open shelters and picnic tables are visible from the water. The water is some parts of this bay are sufficiently shallow that it is hazardous to enter the area if the lake level is very low. A group camp is located at the end of this segment and there is another patch of cattails at the turn by the group camp. Cumulative distance: About 2.75 miles (4,500 m).

Shoreline at the Nature Center

Segment 10. Group camp to the Nature Center Dock. This segment extends along the shore bounding the Group Camp across the water to the shore by the nature center. The camp is connected to the shore by the Nature Center by a bridge that is being renovated at the moment. On the nature center side is a walkway around a maintenance building that adjoins the bridge*; the bridge and walkways are popular fishing spots. The lake extends under the bridge up into a shallow area of the lake that used to be posted out-of-bounds for boats although the sign has long since faded and been removed in the course of ongoing bridge renovations. This area is about waist deep – I know, I flipped my shell here once! Cumulative distance: 3 miles (4,800 m). *The bridge is currently under reconstruction

Segment 11. The cove. This is a shallow area where Marburg Creek drains into the upper end of the lake. My route takes me over to the road. Sometimes it is possible to row under the bridge and further up towards Georgia highway GA-81. Depending on rainfall, the passage under the bridge may silt up and make it impossible to float under the bridge. When I first started rowing here, fisherman would regularly take their boats up into this area. Now this would be impossible and the area of just to the lake side of the bridge may be above water in really dry times. The Old Fort, built to protect settlers from Creek and Cherokee indians in 1792 was located originally on the hill at the end of the lake labeled segment 18. A few years ago. the fort was relocated to a grassy area on the south shore of this area. Periodically, reenactment encampments are held at the fort. Cumulative distance: About 3.5 miles (5,400 m).

Segment 12. Cove to the Fishing Area. This shoreline is wooded with pines and some deciduous trees including one notable evergreen magnolia. This is an uncomplicated rowing section except for a felled tree hazard that has several limbs that are just submerged when the lake is at normal level and just exposed when the lake level is low. It’s easy to catch an oar blade on these limbs if I stay too close to the shore. This stretch of shoreline is popular with folks who fish from the shore. Cumulative distance: About 3.5+ miles (5,800 m).

Segment 13. Fishing area to the Point. This is a long stretch down to the point opposite the first point where this arm of the lake meets the other arm. This segment starts at the fishing area point. It’s nostalgic for me because I used to launch at this area. The water is quite shallow – not more that 1.5-2.0 feet at normal lake level. I still row into this area. The shoreline starts out moderately level and then meets a cliff created by erosion and then drops back down to the lake level and continues at this level to the point. The shoreline is marked by several drainage inlets and a couple of scenic footbridges. Approximately one-half of this shoreline was clear-cut as shown in the map but has now re-forested with deciduous trees. Cumulative distance: About 4.5 miles (7,000 m).

Segment 14. Point to the Beach. Starts at the point and extends along some steep shoreline past the beach to the end of the first picnic area (Picnic Area #1) and a boat dock where rental dinghies, canoes, and pedal boats are moored or racked during the warm season. The shore at the point is a cliff about 8-10 feet high that continues for a way and falls back to water live at the beach and the water is deep. The shoreline from the beach to the end of the picnic area is relatively shallow. The beach is a popular area in spring, summer, and well into the fall. Cumulative distance: About 4.5+ miles (7,400 m).

Segment 15. Beach to the Island. Starts at the end of Picnic Area #1 and passes another drainage inlet to Picnic Area #2. The shoreline is 2-3 feet above the lake level and forested with pines. Cumulative distance: 4.75 miles (7,800 m).

Segment 16. The Island. At the end of the Picnic Area #2 is a small bay with a drainage inlet. The water is very shallow – about 1.5 – 2 feet deep at normal lake levels and almost impassible when the lake level is low. The main feature of this section is a small island that is barely above water level. A pair of Canada geese have nested on this island every year for the last few years and have raised clutches of four or five goslings each year. I love this section behind the island. It’s a sheltered area when the wind is blowing on the lake. Cumulative distance: About 5 miles (8,000 m).

Segment 17. Island to the Dock. This is the final section from the point at the end of the island inlet back to the boat ramp. Initially the shoreline is wooded with pines and a few deciduous trees and then opens out into a grassed area, firstly the right of way for the high-tension power lines and then an open picnic area studded with pines. The University of Georgia boathouse sits on the slope above the lake directly behind it’s dock on the shore. Cumulative distance: About 5.25 miles (8,400 m)

Segment 18. Above the Bridge. Extends from the bridge crossing the lake by the boat ramp down to the end of the lake. When the bridge had a wide center span, it was easy to row under the bridge and into this area. A few years ago, additional supports were erected to support the center span. It’s easy for motor boats, canoes, and kayaks to pass under the bridge but it’s now a real challenge for me. Although it is possible to maneuver the boat between the bridge supports, it takes a lot of technical effort and is difficult if it is windy. Consequently I rarely row along this section of the lake. The water near the bridge is fairly deep and the shore lined with low cliffs. The water becomes quite shallow at the head of the lake and may be difficult to navigate.

I like to row early in the morning. Except when a weather front is passing, the early morning breeze is fairly light and then there usually is a 1-2 hour period when it is calm before the daytime breeze rises. This is a magical time when the water is mirror-smooth, fog may be rising from the water, the colors are more intense, delicious smells of wood fires and bacon waft from the campgrounds, and herons are warming their wings in the early morning sun.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Daffodil #8

This daffodil was planted last fall and began blooming on March 7th.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Daffodil #7

This daffodil was planted last fall.

It’s a small daffodil that began blooming on March 7th.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Webcam: Alaska Volcano Observatory, Mount Redoubt

A couple of months ago I read a report – in an Australian online news service no less - that Mount Redoubt , a volcano in Alaska was showing some activity. Not only was there an interesting report but there was a link to the Alaska Volcano Observatory!. Thus, I learned about this wonderful site that I visit at least on a daily basis if not several times each day, particularly on weekends.

The site has a map and a list of the volcano regions in Alaska. Clicking on the map or link will take you to detailed map of that region with all of the mountains marked. A table below the map indicates which volcanos are active or inactive. Click on the mountain name on the map or in the table will transport you to a page with details about the mountain.

Mount Redoubt is in the Cook Inlet-South Central region and there are now three webcams to view the mountain. Redoubt-CI looks across Cook Inlet. In this image, captured on April 4th, you can see the steam cloud rising above the mountain.

Redoubt-Hut is located approximately 7.5 miles from the mountain and looks at the north flank of the summit crater. These images were captured on March 15th, 2009 when there was a little activity and on April 4th when the mountain was quite active

Redoubt – DFR that was recently activated is approximately 7.6 miles NE of the crater. In this image, captured on April 4th, in addition to the activity in the crater, a small steam vent is visible at the lower right of the image.

A really nice feature of the webcam sites is that each has a thumbnail of the view on a clear day. If the current weather is bad, you can see what the view would look like on a good day. Encouraging when the webcam is socked in during bad weather.

Kudos to the hosts of this site - the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAFGI), and the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (ADGGS)!

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Butterfly: Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo)

It's a Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo). The first butterfly of the season at our place this year.

On March 30th, it was flitting around the grass near the woods in the late afternoon. It would settle on stalks of the dry Andropogon grass. It would let me approach to within about six feet but then flit off to another stalk a little distance away.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Daffodil #6

This daffodil was planted last fall. The center is more intensely frilled than most daffodils.

This daffodil began blooming on March 7th.

Daffodil #5

This daffodil was planted last fall.

This daffodil began blooming on March 7th.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Daffodil #4

This daffodil was planted last fall. The outer petals are white. The centers are yellow when the flowers first open and then fade over time, first to cream and then to white.

This daffodil began blooming on February 24th and
it's blooms last longer than most others.

Daffodil #3: Jetfire

This is Jetfire. One of the three named daffodils that I planted a few years ago. It has thrived so far, second only to one that was on the property when we moved here. Each year the clumps increase in size and they flower freely. The bright yellow and orange flowers provide some welcome color after a long winter of browns and greens.

This year they were in full bloom when we had several inches of snow. Both foliage and blooms were completely buried. I thought that was the end of them for this year. Everything was flattened. Slowly they straightened up, not as tall as they were originally, and provided bright color for several weeks.

Jetfire began blooming on February 24th.

Daffodil #2

This daffodil was planted last fall and
began blooming on February 10th.