Saturday, February 27, 2010

Barn: Barrow County, Georgia

I love old buildings; farm houses, barns, silos , factories etc. But these are fast disappearing from the landscape. Sometimes the biggest challenge to photograph them is finding a place to safely pull off the road.

This barn is located on GA-324 in Barrow County, Georgia a little west of GA-8.

A closeup.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

It was dusk on Friday night when I first saw them. We were driving across the causeway on the Briscoe Reservoir on Beaverdam Creek in Walton County. The ducks were close to the causeway. There was something different about them. All I could really see was that the heads were and ‘odd’ shape and some had a light vertical stripe on the shoulder. I researched them and came to the conclusion that they were Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris). But I couldn’t see the white extending along the body in the poor light.

The location

I went back the following Monday on the off-chance that they might still be in the same area. And they were there. There were probably a hundred-plus ducks. They area nervous. When I stopped on the causeway – and I’ve stopped several times now – they turned and swam away to the north.

And closer still…

And then they flew off to the north shore by the woods. They weren't going to pose for close-ups.

I wouldn’t have taken any notice of these ducks except that they were close enough to identify. We frequently see ducks congregating in this relatively sheltered area north of the causeway. I suspect now that they were Ring-necked ducks that may spend some time here every year. In the future I’ll be taking more notice during the fall and winter to see if they actually over winter on the reservoir.

Last Saturday night (2/27/2010) we drove over the causeway. Only one small group of six to eight ducks were resting near the causeway. The rest were gone. Today, Monday 3/1/2010, all had left.

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Identification resources:
- The Cornell Institute of Ornithology: Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

This post was submitted to I and the Bird #121. Visit Birder's Lounge to read more great posts about birds.

I drove around the last corner before our drive and this Turkey Vulture (
Cathartes aura) was feasting on something small in the center of the road. It flew up into a nearby tree. At first it seemed wary of my presence. After a short time it seemed more curious than wary.
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Identification resources:

- The Cornell Institute of Ornithology: Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Campground – Dam Loop: Revisited (February 20th, 2010)

It’s been a marvelous weekend with high temperatures in the low to mid 60s F. Time to get out and enjoy the warmth. I wanted to walk the Campground – Dam loop that we first walked at Fort Yargo State Park at the end of January. The lake level had been lowered six feet at that time; it was planned to lower the depth by eight feet to allow for construction near the Nature Center. Time to see what had changed.

It looks like a buck has sharpened his antlers on a tree in the campground area just to the right as we headed down to the trail.

The dock by the campground (segment 8) is still a magnetic feature for me. Some folk are fishing from the shore in the foreground; they are on the ‘yurt’ side of the campground (segment 7). It’s not possible to see the inlet from this angle.

The Nature Center at the far end of the lake (segment 10). The line of rocks extending into the lake in the middle of the photo extends from the point at the Fishing Area (segment 12-13). Someone is fishing from those rocks too.

The lake level has now been lowered just over eight feet. (Compare with the photo in this post).

Another photogenic tree stump – this time on segment 3 – exposed at low water. (Sadly, the stump I photographed previously has disappeared). The ring-billed gulls were still on the lake – off to the right of this point - but they were far from shore.

One tree ‘hosting’ another tree. I’m not sure what the ‘host’ tree is since it’s deciduous. It looks like this tree suffered some trauma that stopped the growth of a single trunk. The tree developed two branches that have become the tree. The original trunk is now a hollow bowl. A pine seed – probably a Loblolly Pine – germinated and is growing happily in the bowl.

A kayaker is enjoying a paddle. There were several kayakers on the lake.

A cluster of parchment fungi survive on a fallen tree trunk.
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Related posts:
- Marburg Creek Reservoir: Fort Yargo State Park
- Campground - Dam Loop: To The Dam
- Campground - Dam Loop: Dam To The Half-way Point
- Campground - Dam Loop: Half-way Point Back To The Dam

- Campground - Dam Loop: Back to the Campground

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Zen: Snow On Grass

The field is ‘covered’ with Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus) which stays a golden-brown throughout the winter. The snowfall bent and covered the grass to yield this fascinating appearance. When the snow melted the grass stood upright again.
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Related posts:
- And Then It Snowed: In The Woods

- And Then It Snowed: The Day After

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And Then It Snowed: The Day After

The snow melts out pretty quickly once it warms up. The temperature high didn’t get much above 39 F but the sun was hot enough to melt a lot of the snow.

The path to the creek. The path has ‘widened’ out again. The snow that had weighed down the branches of the Chinese Privet had dropped off and the branches had returned to their normal vertical position.

The path where the trunk of a dead tree had fallen

A view to the pasture on the adjacent property. The green grass is showing again.

The recently flooded path.

The back path was open again. I found this jelly fungus on a log just off the path. I was surprised to see it since I don't think of fungi in winter. Jennifer at A Passion for Nature also commented on one she saw recently and gives a nice review of the various jelly fungi that is worth checking out. I think mine is a Tremella mesenterica based on the fact that this species fruits year-round.

The path back up the hill.

I didn’t see any recognizable paw prints the previous day. The powder snow wouldn’t hold the tracks. After a day to warm the snow, a possum left its unmistakable prints.
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Related posts:

- Woods In The Fall

- Snow: Something To Show For It

- The Creek Ledge: It Does Flood

- And Then It Snowed: In The Woods

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And Then It Snowed: In The Woods

We were warned. Two to three inches of snow. I was in Atlanta when it started. I had a most enjoyable lunch with a friend (Hi K!). I stopped in at a store across the road. I saw a few flakes as I walked into the store. I must have spent 20-odd minutes wandering around the store and making some purchases. When I walked out to the car, it was snowing heavily.

My commute home – about 40 miles – was OK. It was snowing heavily but the roads were clear. The snow was wet. Snow was starting to accumulate on the grassy verge when I was 20 miles from home. By the time I drove down to the house, the snow was already weighing down the bamboo in the field. It continued to snow heavily into the evening although the flakes became finer as the temperature fell.

The next morning it was 23 F and sunny; a high temperature of 42 F was predicted. I had to get out and take photographs before it warmed up too much. As soon as the sun hit the trees, large clumps of snow would start to fall. The snow would soon be gone.

The path to the creek. It was heavy going since we had 5-6 inches of powder snow. The path was narrower than usual. The snow had weighed down the branches of the Chinese Privet so that I had to push my way through at several points along the way.

A trunk of a dead tree had fallen across the path.

A view to a pasture on the adjacent property

The recently flooded path.

The pool. Now back to its normal size.

The back path; taken from the main path. That's not fog; the heat from the sun is already causing small snow showers as clumps of snow fall from the trees.

The path back up the hill.
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Related posts:
- Woods In The Fall

- Snow: Something To Show For It

- The Creek Ledge: It Does Flood

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Creek Ledge: It Does Flood

So we’d had 5.6 inches of rain; then another 2.3 inches for a total of 7.9 inches so far this year. Could be shaping up to be another wet year.

W had told me that the ledge above the creek flooded when we had a lot of rain. Since this rain had fallen mostly overnight, the conditions the next afternoon were good enough that I thought I’d go down to the creek and take a look. I thought he meant that the creek overflowed its banks and maybe it does after a lot more rain. But the water level in the creek was at least 2-3 feet below the ledge.

The route with the back route

The first thing I noticed was that the water had cut a rivulet through the leaves on the path down to the creek. In fact, the water was still running quite fast down the steep incline just above the ledge (from B) to the path running along the creek (D).

As the rivulet reached the path along the creek, the flow spread out like river delta and…

Joined the water that had already accumulated to flood the path; compare with these photos (E). This was the first flooded section of path. The water was probably 3-4 inches deep. I tried to walk off to the side of the path but the water was as deep there as on the path. There was another stretch of water on the path before I reached…

The pool which had overflowed its banks. Compare with this photo.

I thought I might be able to use the back route (G) back to the path up the hill. I waded though about 50 yards of water which as 3-4 inches deep and turned the corner to the final section only to find that the water continued, even deeper. So I turned around an waded back through the three stretches of water before I reached the dry path.

So I learned a couple of things. The creek ledge does flood but it’s mainly due to run-off from the hill above and the flooding is widespread across the ledge. I’m glad I made the effort. I also learned that the waterproof boots I recently bought for $10 because they weren’t in the matching box are, indeed, waterproof.

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Related posts:

- Woods In The Fall

- Frogs At The Pool

Saturday, February 13, 2010

And Then It Rained

I don’t know how much rain the lake got. We had 5.6 inches this year before this rain started. When I got home in the afternoon, the total rainfall was at 6.5 inches. By the next morning, the total rainfall stood at 7.9 inches. 2.3 inches in 24 hours. Not a record but a good bit of rain. At the time, I didn’t think much about what it might mean at the lake.

But last weekend, the lake looked quite different from the week before when the water level had been lowered about 8 feet. I walked from the parking lot at Section B (Segment 17) across the pedestrian bridge and along the south side of the lake (Segment 2).

The route. It was an out-and-back walk. The water level was only a couple of feet low. Too bad I didn’t bring my boat.

A tree to the right as I set off across the bridge.

A view of the shoreline as I set off along the path to the east.

The path was level through the trees just across the bridge and the grassy field beyond. The path then headed uphill to a plateau just as the path entered the patch of trees. This uphill section of the trail was eroded somewhat and a little precarious after all the rain we have had. Although the path was sandy, it contains clay and can be slippery. Best to wear sturdy boots and make sure to walk carefully. Someone had slipped on one section of the climb. Once on the plateau, the path was level and headed southeast along another grassy area to the gas pipeline right-of-way. I followed the pipeline right-of-way east down an incline and then, just as the pipeline trail headed uphill again, I took the trail to the left and back into the woods. The trail wound its way down to the lake shore and then along the shore with a couple of 'detours' inland to avoid deep gullies. I saw ferns, native holly, and cranefly orchid leaves in these woods.

Budding Hazel Alder (Alnus serrulata) catkins. At one point along the shore, it’s only a foot step down onto the beach. I think this is an old road that once ‘crossed’ the lake and which ‘emerges’ from the lake at Segment 14-15. Anyway, this was the one of a few alders that was showing signs of life.

Looking along the shoreline near the end of this hike.

Some hikers crossing the pedestrian bridge.

The shoreline east of the boat launch. The water is almost up to the UGA rowing dock. Compare with these photos

The boat launch and dock. Compare with these photos.
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Related posts:
- Marburg Creek Reservoir: Fort Yargo State Park

- Boat Launch To The Picnic Area: ‘Low Tide’

- Apparition?

Friday, February 12, 2010


All I could see at first was a boat with a shallow hull. They were coming along Segment 6 when I first saw them. Two of them sitting spaced as a rowing pair or sculling double would be. But I didn’t dare believe that’s what they were.

Then they turned and came closer – towards Picnic Area #2 (Segment 15) - and it was clear that they were rowing or sculling – not certain yet. I had just been getting my mojo back to go out and scull only to find that the lake level had been lowered. Now I was envious. They were ‘out there’ and I wasn’t.

I wasn’t sure where they had launched. Had they launched from the boat launch by the campground? Or had they, as I hoped, launched from shore by the UGA boathouse? I took a chance and walked along the shore towards the rowing dock (Segment 17).

Sure enough, they came to the shore in front of the rowing dock. And it was a double! Sculling! These guys had class!

First job was to remove the oars.

Time to lift the shell out of the water.

Then to carry the shell to the boathouse. I was not only envious; I was downright jealous!
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Related posts:

- Marburg Creek Reservoir: Fort Yargo State Park

- Boat Launch To The Picnic Area: ‘Low Tide’