May 16, 2024

Phinizy Swamp Nature Park Day Hike, March 29, 2024

Phinzy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta (Richmond County) Georgia, is probably the closest habitat for wading birds and alligators I can get to on a day trip. I like making a trip to Phinizy to get my fix on alligators and wading birds that I can't photograph where I live in the Piedmont. There are always plenty of photo opportunities in just a few short hours of walking at Phinizy Swamp!

  • Sunny, with a high near 75
  • Sunrise 7:18 AM; Sunset 7:46 PM
  • Daylight hours: 12 hours, 28 minutes (+2m 4s)
  • Moon 82% Waxing Gibbous

White-eyed Vireo
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 206304034 - White-eyed Vireo; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Pied-billed Grebe
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 211931229 - Pied-billed Grebe; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Red-winged Blackbird
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 211931236 - Red-winged Blackbird; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Alligator Eye
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 212630147 - American Alligator; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Alligator Eye
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 213155963 - American Alligator; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Little Blue Heron
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 213384617 - Little Blue Heron; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Western Cattle Egret
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 213658521 - Western Cattle Egret; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Little Blue Heron
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 214969311 - Little Blue Heron; Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta, Georgia. March 29, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Posted on May 16, 2024 04:48 PM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 44 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 15, 2024

A Reason to Strut: End of Turkey Season!

The May 15th end of Turkey Season gave this Tom a reason to strut!
Wild Turkey
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78817029 - Wild Turkey; Walton County, Georgia. May 15, 2018.

Tuesday 7:44 AM - This tom has a reason to rejoice and strut his stuff. He has made it through (almost) one of the longest Turkey seasons and lived to brag about it!

As I drove into work, I saw a gathering of Wild Turkey in a field off to my left where I’ve frequently seen the gobblers. But today, a male was really giving a show to several females. This boy was all fired and decked out in puffed plumage, red wattle, and widespread fan. Not only was he impressing the gathering of females, but he made me pull over to get some photos!

Because of high reproduction in the previous years, the GA Department of Natural Resources predicted a “good supply of vocal 2-year old gobblers across much of the state” and allowed an extended hunting season from March 24 through May 15; each hunter being allowed a bag limit of three gobblers. So this Tom had about 12 more hours and then smooth sailing until next season.

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
Posted on May 15, 2024 10:07 AM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 14, 2024

Red Fox Film Flashback

Flashback from May 14, 1998...
Green Anole
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 18828028 - Red Fox; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. May 14, 1998.

In May of 1998, while working at Athens-Clarke County Animal Control, we received an inordinate number of calls about a Red Fox (Vulpes fulves) walking down the streets of the wooded subdivision near the mall in broad daylight. A few callers even stated the fox was bold enough to enter carports to feast on the free bounty of cat food.

Knowing it was late spring, the conclusion was made that she was a lactating female needing extra nourishment to feed her newborn kits. After narrowing down the location based upon calls of the last few weeks, a little investigation revealed the den site where I encountered several kits at play. I managed a photograph before they darted into their hole more afraid of me than I was of them. Mama fox was a not "rabid beast", but a caring mother just looking to support her family.

Posted on May 14, 2024 05:53 PM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 13, 2024

Because they're there...

Backyard nature journal entry, May 13, 2017...
Green Anole
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 43447499 - Green Anole; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. May 13, 2017. ©williamwisephoto.com

Saturday, 4:21 PM - The day started off damp and gray after the thunderstorms last night. Although it was 65 degrees, it felt a tad cool on my back patio this morning.

Still not seeing any regular appearances by the female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds this year; just an occasional male. The Chipping Sparrows have begun building a nest in Crepe Myrtle tree by my grill. My regular Anoles scurry around.

How many green Carolina Anoles can I photograph on my back patio? As many as I want! Just because something is common, doesn't mean it isn't intriquing and wonderful to behold! I had fun watching this one. Instead of scurrying away from me, He kept doing his "push-ups" and enlarging his pink dewlap. It is obvious my back patio is his territory to protect. I'm glad he allows me some time to relax out here every once in a while!

Athens, Georgia; May 13, 2017

Posted on May 13, 2024 09:59 AM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 08, 2024

Timber Rattlesnake, Walton County, GA

Working alongside an animal control department provides some good front-row-seat opportunities...
Timber Rattlesnake
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 45282441 - Timber Rattlesnake; Walton County, Georgia. May 8, 2020. ©williamwisephoto.com

A co-worker texted me after-hours and said, “I’ve got one for you!” Along with that text came a photo of a nice sized Timber Rattlesnake in a five-gallon bucket. The dark, v-shaped chevron patterns ran in regular intervals down its body while an orangish stripe ran along the spine, head to (almost) tail. And at the end of the black-tipped tail were six rattles. I couldn't wait to get to work the next morning to see this beautiful snake!

The animal control officer was called out to a rural farm property in Walton County, not too far from a recent clear-cut of several hundred acres. No doubt the logging activity drove the snake out towards human habitations. Normally the officers don't respond to snake calls unless they are in the residence. But instead of leaving this rattlesnake to face the possibility of being killed by the caller, the officer went and removed it from the property. After I did some photography and a short video, for which it put on a nice show, I released it in a forested area not too far from where it was originally picked up.

  • May 8, 2020; Walton County, Georgia

Posted on May 08, 2024 10:11 AM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 05, 2024

Pesky squirrels...

Nature journal entry from May 5, 2018...
Carolina Chickadee
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78372775 - Carolina Chickadee; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. May 5, 2018. ©williamwisephoto.com

Saturday, 8:00 AM - Yes, the squirrels are God’s creatures to. And yes, at times I do enjoy watching their antics and acrobatics at the bird feeders. But man, the little buggers can drive me crazy! Why do they have to sit there and entirely empty the feeder, spreading it all over the ground? Why can’t they just take their share and move on?

Even though I had to repeatedly run the squirrels off, I still had a nice day of birding. To be honest, until the following morning, I had totally forgotten that today was the Cornell Lab 2018 Global Big Day. Even so, I was still diligent to make a backyard ebird list. I also spent a large part of the day putting older blogs and photographs into ebird to get my total species count equal to my life list. Unless I missed some, my ebird total species stands at 121!

Most of the birds today were the normal backyard birds. The only less-than-usual visitors were a Summer Tanager and a Brown-headed Nuthatch. I also sat attempting to get a photo of the Carolina chickadee coming in and out of the camouflage color nest box in the backyard.

Athens, Clarke County, Georgia

  • Sunny, high 83°; low 67°
  • Sunrise 6:39 AM; sunset 8:20 PM
  • Day length: 13 hours, 39 minutes
  • Moon: 73% waning gibbous

Eastern Gray Squirrel
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78372773 - Eastern Gray Squirrel; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. May 5, 2018. ©williamwisephoto.com

Brown Thrasher
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78372774 - Brown Thrasher; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. May 5, 2018. ©williamwisephoto.com

Posted on May 05, 2024 11:14 AM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 3 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 04, 2024

Moooooo!

A nature journal entry from May 6, 2013...
Brown Headed Cowbird
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 25631567 - Brown-headed Cowbird; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. May 6, 2013. ©williamwisephoto.com

Saturday, 9:34 AM. Unusually chilly (54°), wet, drizzly, windy and cold for a May morning. Looking out the empty feeders I saw a Blue Jay and Downy Woodpecker. Feeling bad in my warm house, I went to fill the empty feeders. Once out there, I saw 4 small blackbirds. Being relatively bold, they stayed in the tree as I approached. Black bodies, bronze heads. I went and confirmed their call on allaboutbirds.org… Brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater). They are much smaller than I had thought. When I pointed them out to my young daughter Megan, she asked if they go “Moooooo”. I was able to get their photos two days later when the weather was much more pleasant.

Athens, Georgia; May 6, 2013

Posted on May 04, 2024 12:02 PM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 03, 2024

Not on the front porch, please...

House Finch
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30031714 - House Finch; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. April 25, 2015. ©williamwisephoto.com

The aptly named House Finches are once again desperately trying to build a nest in the decorative wreath hanging on the front door of our house. Each time my wife hears the tell-tale scratching, she comically runs over from the couch and rapidly swings the door wide open with a shout, sending a flurry of chirping off toward the tree in our front yard.

The House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is reportedly native to Mexico and the southwestern United States, but has since spread to practically every neighborhood across the United States. If you don’t allow familiarity to breed contempt, the House Finch provides a melodious soundtrack to spring and summer. And the males are an attractive bird with their bright cranberry colored heads and flanks. Sources report that “the coloration varies in intensity with the seasons and is derived from the berries and fruits in its diet.”

The House Finches around our house are year-round, permanent residents. They often nest in the taller decorative shrubs along the side of our house, which we welcome. But when they try to occupy the front porch, my wife’s hospitality ends, knowing the mess the can cause. But hopefully, after enough disturbances from my wife, they elect to relocate to the front porch of a more accommodating neighbor.

Posted on May 03, 2024 02:32 PM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 09, 2024

Nesting Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 38374732 - Eastern Phoebe; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. April 9, 2017.

Although it is the Barn Swallows that are busy about the posts on my neighbors’ front porches, it is an Eastern Phoebe that has once again attempted a nest on our front patio. Two years ago, the nest was destroyed before completion. Last year, the attempt appeared to be successful but was blown down by strong winds several weeks later, leaving unhatched eggs to perish under the overturned nest on the ground. This year’s nest seems of fine construction, neatly padded with fresh green moss, and has so far withstood one very windy day.

The Phoebe sits on her nest quite a bit. Perhaps the eggs are already there. She cocks her head as I come out the front door, and usually takes flight quite quickly. Last Saturday, while doing yardwork, I set up my ladder next to the juniper tree to get a higher angle photo into her nest. Each time I climbed the ladder, she would fly off, and all I got was a poor shot with flash. Today I used a longer lens to stay out of her flight zone. I managed a little more naturally lighted photo.

April 9, 2017; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

Posted on April 09, 2024 07:21 PM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 07, 2024

Backyard Black-and-white Warbler; March 23, 2024

Sure enough, the playback worked! He popped up for a few seconds ...
Black-and-white Warbler
Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 204281145 - Black-and-white Warbler; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. March 23, 2024. ©williamwisephoto.com

Enjoying an afternoon of backyard birding, I could hear a Black-and-White Warbler singing in the tangle of vines and downed wood. I brought out my small portable speaker to see if I could get it to make an appearance. Sure enough, the playback worked! He popped up for a few seconds to explore the little speaker, even fluffing up his feathers in agitation at the supposed intruder. I got my photos and then let it be. (Frequent use playback is not recommended, particularly in breeding season.) A very striking bird in the muted earth tones of my small patch of woods. ​
Athens-Clarke County, Georgia USA

  • Clouds and wind, 71°F, low 43°F.
  • Sunrise 7:32 am; Sunset 7:47 pm
  • Daylight Hours: 12 hours, 16 minutes (+2m 7s)
  • Moon: 98.0% Waxing Gibbous
Posted on April 07, 2024 12:33 PM by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment