Monthly Archives: December 2013

Birdsong Wood Stork Adventure

June 9, 2013
Reported by Pat Press and Carol Franchi

Early morning showers lightly dripping through the tall pines and fragrant magnolias greeted the excited group of birdwatchers and photographers at Birdsong Nature Center on Saturday, June 9th. We were all eager bird watchers ready to take in the deep south woods marshes. On arriving we were greeted by our Birdsong guide. We then caravanned down through the bluebird meadows full of raspberry bushes to the swampy pond where the wood storks were nesting with their two youngsters. The guides and some local photographers had set up telescopes and cameras on tripods aimed at the wood stork nest which gave us a terrific view. 

These scopes provided us with an unbelievable and wondrous sight. The wood stork youngsters were braving the showers and light breezes in their huge nest at the top of a gigantic tree. Surprisingly their nest was exposed to daily elements of extreme heat and often the usual spring afternoon thunderstorms. The parents shelter their nestlings under their huge wings to provide shade and protection on the piney ledge so high above the undergrowth.

In back of the wood stork nest was a nesting family of great blue herons. We could not see the nest, however we could hear their lively breakfast. The faithful birdwatchers listened with delight at the feeding sounds coming from the marsh nest. The parents flew in with breakfast and a loud cacophony of engaging screams, screeches and honks came flying back to our ears through the forest as the babies were being fed. Off to the right some white egret parents were swirling through the marsh woods lifting high on the breezes of the approaching late spring storm. Off to the right and slightly below the storks were two anhinga. They surveyed the marsh and then flew off above the forest.

The wood stork nest is the first to be sighted at Birdsong, though others have nested at plantations in South Georgia. These beautiful birds are being pushed into this area from their usual breeding grounds In Florida due to habitat loss, according to our knowledgeable guide. Birdsong Nature Center is planning a fundraising event in July called “Wood Storks: The Summer of Love.” 

We enjoyed the opportunity to take in the sights and sound of nature and to take in the serenity of being in the forest. Take a short trip up Meridian Road into South Georgia and give yourself this a birding treat!

Pat and Carol’s Excellent Adventure

Audubon Camp on Hog Island, Maine
Reported by Pat Press and Carol Franchi

Bird enthusiasts, educators, and nature lovers came together from all over the country this summer at the Hog Island, Maine, National Audubon Camp. AAS Past President Kathleen Carr attended the Field Ornithology Camp in June, and Nick Baldwin, our chapter’s long-time resident photographer, attended the Arts and Birding Camp in July. Last to attend were Pat Press and Carol Franchi, the Apalachee Chapter’s Education Committee leaders. Both retired teachers and sisters attended the week-long Sharing Nature: An Educator’s Camp in late July and came home with plenty of ideas and enthusiasm. They plan to share their ideas with local communities about birding education, conservation, ecology, nature and environmental studies.

One of the most interesting evenings enjoyed by Pat and Carol was the program given by Dr. Steve Kress, celebrated Audubon scientist, author, and Chairman of National Audubon’s Bird Conservation Programs. He presented his work on Project Puffin. A Board Member of Hog Island Camp, Steve Kress has been working on saving puffins for over forty years. Puffins are these unusual and colorful-looking North Atlantic seabirds that had moved north to Nova Scotia due to environmental factors. Dr. Kress designed a seabird nesting restoration project for Eastern Egg Rock, a small rocky island in Muscongus Bay, Maine, where puffins had previously nested.

One of his most successful experiments was using painted wooden puffin decoys to attract nesting pairs to the island. Puffins are naturally curious and socially gregarious, so they stopped over to visit and eventually stayed. There are now many puffins coming to Eastern Egg Rock Island. Dr. Kress also explored using mirror boxes to trick the puffins into having interactions with themselves and thereby gaining social familiarity with their setting. His amazing Project Puffin information is on the internet and we encourage everyone to visit.

One of the most enjoyable field trips the Hog Island Campers experienced was our day-long boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock Island for photo shooting and bird watching. Among the many birds Pat, Carol, Kathleen, and Nick saw were puffins, guillemots, eider ducks, loons, ospreys, eagles, terns, gulls, and herons. On a nearby island in Muscongus Bay they sighted harbor seals and giant black-backed gulls, as well as playful dolphins.

The bay itself and the many islands along the Maine shore were a perfect environment for these beautiful creatures. Muscongus Bay is a lobsterman’s and fisherman’s paradise. The shining blue waters are covered with fleets of colorful lobster boats, sailboats, and marker floats each identifying individual lobstermen’s lines of traps. As you can imagine, the last night on the island was a magical evening of celebrating nature, camaraderie, sharing ideas and projects, as well as eating a lobster feast fresh from the sea.

Outside the kitchens there was a tall tower which housed a huge osprey nest where the family’s antics were being viewed by a 24/7 camera and broadcasted across the internet. Each time the parents came to feed the two nestlings we were a captive audience for their screeches and delights during feeding times. A path past the osprey nest was a good spot to watch the fledglings preparing to flee their nest, an event that was soon expected by the camp residents.

Pat Press, a Reading and Early Childhood Education Specialist, has prepared a list of suggested books for young readers, as well as a list for teens and adult readers, to become familiar with nature and environmental studies, as well as entertaining reading for pleasure. Picture books for young children should be read aloud and enjoyed together. There are many teacher/parent resources which can be used to enhance the children’s and young adult’s experiences in learning about nature and the creatures with whom we share this beautiful natural environment. You can access these resources at Apalachee Audubon, National Audubon, Hog Island Audubon Camp, and Project Puffin.

Dr. Steve Kress, Project Puffin
North Atlantic Puffin
Hog Island Audubon Camp, Maine
From Hog Island Website 2013

 

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Welcome to the official blog for the Apalachee Audubon Society. This blog will host  different voices from our organization and will feature a variety of topics.