Archivos de diario de marzo 2022

01 de marzo de 2022

Nature Jounal: Hawks and Herons

An excerpt from my nature journal on January 9, 2018:

Tuesday, 10:32 PM . What a difference a day makes. No frozen fingers today. Just after 10 AM and it is already 48°. The thin layer of ice that nearly covered the entire shelter pond has begun its retreat. All of the Sparrows that were limited to rustling in the leaves because of the chilly wind yesterday are now feeding in groups across the open, grassy spaces.

© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66387328 - Red-shouldered Hawk; Walton County, Georgia. January 9, 2018.

The beaver have been quite busy on the small ephemeral stream behind the shelter which is typically fairly dry, serving only has a run off ditch when the pond is full. At least five dams have been erected; the lower dams are an impressive 35 feet long, while the upper dams are shorter but much taller, approximately 4 to 5 feet high, making tiered ponds of differing levels.

While admiring the beavers work, my eye is drawn to a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting just above the new ponds. The hawks typically hunt the rodents in the parking lot drainage ditch between the animal shelter and the jail. But the beaver are creating some new, more secluded hunting grounds for the raptors. Happy hunting!

Walking up further to the Sheriff’s office gun range, two Red-tailed Hawks made a fly over directly above me and alighted side by side in a tall pine; but a bit too far off for a decent photo.

© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66387329 - Red-tailed Hawk; Walton County, Georgia. January 9, 2018.

Later in the day, most of the clouds broke away to a blue sunny day, and unbelievably warm, 64°… even warmer than this morning’s forecast! Just before going home I snuck up on a Great Blue Heron fishing in the warm weather at the northern end of the shelter pond.

Great Blue Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66387327 - Great Blue Heron; Walton County, Georgia. January 9, 2018.

​Walton County, Georgia

  • Mostly cloudy with a high near 57°
  • Sunrise 7:39 AM, sunset 5:42 PM
  • Moon: 44% waning crescent
Publicado el marzo 1, 2022 06:10 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 3 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de marzo de 2022

Myrtle Beach Birding

Bonepart's Gull
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 21000005 - Bonepart's Gull; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. March 1, 2019.

My wife and I made a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Leaving work and the kids behind, we had an evening to ourselves to walk along the beach. Strolling hand-in-hand along the shell covered sands, we laughed along with the Laughing Gulls at all the silly Bonaparte’s Gulls frolicking and wave jumping repeatedly. I also spotted some life birds.

Bonepart's Gull
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 21000004 - Bonepart's Gull; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. March 1, 2019.

Ring-billed Gull
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 21000036 - Ring-billed; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. March 1, 2019.

Horry County, South Carolina USA

  • Light showers. Cloudy, with a high near 62. South wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.
  • Sunrise 6:44 am; Sunset 6:11 pm
  • Daylight Hours: 11 hours, 27 minutes (+2m 3s)
  • Moon: 18% Waning Crescent
Publicado el marzo 2, 2022 02:37 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 11 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

JRR Tolkien's Knocking Thrush

Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him..."

Hermit Thrush
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 19949590 - Hermit Thrush; Clarke County, Georgia. January 27, 2019.

On a cloudy Sunday afternoon between church services, I was able to enjoy some birding next to my backyard fire pit. Along with a cup of coffee, it was a nice afternoon of journaling and photography. After several hours of the usual birds, I was delighted by the soft appearance of a dainty Hermit Thrush scraping in the leaf litter not far from my chair.

As soon as that thrush appeared, there was something in my heart that lifted; a subtle spark of joy or excitement. Where does this spark of joy come from? If we are just the products of random chance and evolution, and the other organisms on this planet are just rivals in this game called “survival of the fittest”, shouldn’t I just have stomped on him as an inferior competitor in the food chain? There must be something more to it.

“Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun... will shine upon the key-hole.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

In JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the knocking thrush was a sign to party of dwarves that marked the key hole to the entrance of their lost homeland. Just like Tolkien’s thrush, this world and its amazing creatures knock upon our hearts and unlock the knowledge of our Creator, Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1:20 that creation reveals God’s eternal power and godhead. If we choose not to ignore our hearts, the wonder and design of this universe lead our minds to God.

How does all this explain that spark? Well, in Revelation 4:11, John tells us that all things were created by Jesus Christ and for His "pleasure they are and were created". God finds pleasure in His creation! And being made in His image, God has placed within us a similar pleasure that we find in creation. Hence the subtle leap of joy upon seeing even a simple Hermit Thrush!

Publicado el marzo 2, 2022 09:04 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de marzo de 2022

Making Melodies

"Sing your praise to the Lord with... melodious song." Psalm 98:5

Brown Thrasher
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66824626 - Brown Thrasher; Walton County, Georgia. March 2, 2018.

The days lengthen and the dark drive to work is now replaced with a picturesque blue sky and a glowing sunrise. Now that the sun is rising earlier, nearly my entire morning drive is illuminated and I can watch for morning deer or wildlife to photograph along my 45-minute commute through the country. But alas, Daylight Savings Time next week will push the drive back into the dark for a short period.

As I near work, I pull my car around to the water retention pond before heading into the office. The two Canada Geese are still there, but the American Coot and the Redhead Ducks are gone. A delightful morning chorus breaks the chilled morning air. Up high in one of the newly blooming trees, I hear what I thought was a Mockingbird. Instead of ignoring the “common”, I turn to look… a Brown Thrasher in the tree top is singing away and making melodies with all its heart. My camera is always by my side and at the ready.

It was quite an amazing spectacle to observe these complex songs and melodies in triplicate coming out of a mouth that has no lips! The birds have only two hard, stiff beak parts opening and closing; so unlike how we shape our mouths for whistling. How is it done??? The Cornell Lab of ornithology explains, “With over 1,000 song types, the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) has one of the largest repertoires in the bird world. As part of that incredible variety, the thrasher sometimes sings two sweeping tones at the same time—a feat made possible by its two-sided vocal organ. By controlling each side of the syrinx independently, thrashers create unique sounds that only a bird has the ability to produce.”

Walton County, Georgia. March 2, 2018.

  • Sunny, high 64°. Clear tonight, low 34°
  • Sunrise 7:00 AM, sunset 6:30 PM
  • Day length: 11 hours, 29 minutes
Publicado el marzo 3, 2022 05:47 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observación | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

05 de marzo de 2022

Hunters and Gatherers

Genesis 41:35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come...

Northern Mockingbird
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66889195 - Northern Mockingbird scavenging crickets; Clarke County, Georgia. March 11, 2018.

It’s a normal, overcast March afternoon in my backyard. Northern Mockingbirds flutter across the lawn flashing white wing bars to scare up an insect snack. Dark-eyed Juncos hop below the bird feeders checking each empty husk for a missed seed. A couple of Eastern Chipmunks dart from hole to hole to gather the black-oil sunflower seeds that fall from the Cardinal’s mouths. All of the usual birds and critters are here doing what they do; gathering, eating, and drinking.

Red-tailed Hawk
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66889192 - Red-tailed Hawk; Clarke County, Georgia. March 11, 2018.

​On a sudden, with a dive as quick as a lightning flash, a Red-tailed Hawk scatters all of the birds at the feeder. In a fluttering fury, all the little birds take wing and disappear. But the hawk did not come up with empty talons. The amazing raptor, or bird-of-prey, within the blink of an eye, seized upon a small chipmunk and quickly carried it off. The little chipmunk didn’t suspect a thing. It was so fast, the scene was long over before it registered in my mind and I had even thought of picking up my camera.

Just another day of hunting and gathering in the great, wide natural world.

​Athens, Clarke County, Georgia. March 11, 2018

  • Showers 90% likely, high 57°. Rain tonight, low 44°
  • Sunrise 7:49 AM, sunset 7:38 PM
  • Day length: 11 hours, 48 minutes
Publicado el marzo 5, 2022 06:33 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de marzo de 2022

Birding and a Marathon around Greenfield Lake

Juvenile Alligator
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 107896834 - Juvenile American Alligator; Greenfield Lake, Wilmington, North Carolina. February 25, 2022.

Spring is coming! It’s time for the daffodils to bloom, the birds to begin migrating, and the nature photographers to get the equipment ready. But it’s also time for spring marathons! Okay, maybe running extra long distances doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle. But somehow running marathons became another one of my excessive, out-of-balance hobbies.

My daughter and I drove up to North Carolina for the annual Wilmington Marathon. The race begins at sunrise near the waves and dunes of Wrightsville Beach. After crossing several bridges, the course heads for downtown Wilmington and, after twenty-six miles, it ends at the convention center. Along the route the race loops Greenfield Lake, a great park for wildlife and birding photography.

Knowing that I wouldn’t be carrying my heavy DSLR and telephoto lens during a four-hour run, I went with my daughter for a walk at Greenfield Lake the day before the race. I’ve previously photographed several alligators in the lake and hoped to get some more. Although sunny, it was still a tad cool and breezy, so I only spotted two juvenile alligators, but a myriad of birds. There are always egrets, herons, cormorants, ibis and other water birds at the lake. And the waters are full of turtles! A paved path through well-maintained gardens circles the lake. Playgrounds and gazebos make it a popular place for family outings… and a marathon!

The next day, by the time we hit Greenfield Lake during the marathon, we had already run over 17 miles. My daughter was totally spent and I don’t think the beauty of Greenfield Lake registered much in her mind like it had the day before. As I ran, I tried to concentrate on the trees, Spanish moss, flitting birds and budding plants. The solace of the lake and its picturesque view helped me to divert some of the pain developing in my legs. I’m thankful that some of the marathon course wound its way through this park. But I was even happier when the 26.2 miles finally ended and that medal was in hand!

Greenfield Lake, Hanover County, North Carolina. February 25, 2022.

  • Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Southwest wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph.
  • Sunrise 6:45 am; Sunset 6:04 pm
  • Daylight Hours: 11 hours, 19 minutes (+2m 4s)
  • Moon: 31.1% Waning Crescent
Publicado el marzo 7, 2022 03:40 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 24 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de marzo de 2022

Leaving in the morning for the Okefenokee!

Another Okefenokee Photography Project excursion has finally arrived! My daughter and I leave at 6 AM tomorrow morning and head south toward our favorite destination, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. This trip includes permits for two nights within the Swamp at the Round Top Shelter and Floyd’s Island. What a privilege!

We hope to arrive at the Suwannee Canal eastern entrance just after lunch. We will either walk the trails and boardwalk, or put in the canoe to explore toward Monkey Lake. Wednesday night we’re trying our first stay in a camper cabin at Okefenokee Pastimes. (I’ll put up a review of the campground after our trip).

On Thursday morning we launch from the Suwannee Canal and paddle about eleven miles to overnight at the Round Top Shelter. Friday morning we make a short paddle to Floyd’s Island and will have most of the afternoon to explore the drier areas of the island and spend the night in the Hebard Cabin, built in the early 1900’s during the cypress logging boom. Saturday is the return paddle.

Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Unfortunately, the forecast for our excursion is 80% to 100% chance of rain the entire four day trip. That makes it hard to bring out my Nikon, but I hope the rain lets up enough at times to document more of the Swamp and its inhabitants, especially in these areas that I have not been to previously.

The purpose of my Okefenokee Photography Project at is to show not only the huge diversity of life within the swamp through photography, but to capture images of the individual plants and animals that use the Okefenokee as a refuge. This wonderful refuge needs our protection. According to my iNaturalist tallies, I’ve photographed 262 species within the refuge. I’m hoping to add some to that count.

Okefenokee Tallies
My iNaturalist observation tallies within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia as of November, 2021.

Publicado el marzo 9, 2022 01:38 MAÑANA por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de marzo de 2022

Yurt Camping at Red Top Mountain State Park

In early March 2018, my wife, two daughters and I spent a few days camping in a Yurt at Red Top Mountain State Park. This popular Georgia park is usually fully reserved and packed out all summer long. So the lingering late-winter temperatures allowed us to beat the crowds. But the yurt kept us quite warm and cozy at night.

White-breasted Nuthatch
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66794342 - White-breasted Nuthatch; Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia. March 13, 2018.

Tuesday, March 13 - We arrived at the campground just after 2 PM. Surprisingly, the entire park was quite empty. It was a very nice, spacious campground lying with in rolling hills of tall pines and hardwoods. Large, picturesque lichen covered boulders were strewn throughout the park, almost as if deliberately placed decoration.

Lake Allatoona, Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia, USA
© Photographer: William Wise | Red Top Mountain State Park

Although “spring” break, it was windy and very chilly. After unpacking we walked down to the lakeside. Strong winds were blowing across the water bringing up rolls of waves. We never did take the canoe out on the water though we towed it along for the trip. That first afternoon, we explored the shore and walked about a mile on the blue trail. After dinner we went back down to the water for the golden hour before sunset, and then sheltered for the night in our warm yurt.

Tent camping Yurt, Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia, USA
© Photographer: William Wise | Red-Top Mountain State Park yurt

Wednesday, March 14 - sunrise 7:45 AM. The prevalent bird around the campsite is the White-breasted Nuthatch. I could hear him calling more than any other avian inhabitant of the park. Using my mp3 player, I was able to call one in close for lots of photography while we were sitting around a late afternoon campfire.

The winds still too strong for canoeing, so we decided to hike the 7 mile yellow trail. Plenty of ups and downs, tall hardwood trees and nice, wide, soft, needle-covered paths. This would be a great place for a trail run, but the elevation would be quite a challenge.

White-tailed Deer
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 66794341 - White-tailed Deer; Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia. March 13, 2018.

Thursday, March 15 – a campfire to end one day, and a campfire to begin the next morning. I love it. I wish we could do it more often. But we’ll enjoy the times we do get to have.

It’s a chilly morning, about 33°, but the wind is gone. The lake is smooth and wisps of fog rise off its surface. But our stay this last day is short. A quick breakfast and all packed up by 10 AM. All in all, Red Top Mountain is it beautiful campground. But I can imagine that it is quite busy here in the summer when all the RV spots are occupied. But for an early spring break, it was peaceful and serene and very refreshing.

Publicado el marzo 14, 2022 04:58 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de marzo de 2022

Picked Clean, Forensic Studies

On my ride home from work on Tuesday, I noticed a fresh roadkill deer to my right as I drove out of Good Hope, Georgia. It was surrounded by a wake of Turkey Vultures waiting their turn to dine. On Wednesday afternoon, several Black Vultures sat upon the carcass, sticking their heads between the now exposed rib bones. On Thursday, a couple of crows were present at the feast. But today, nothing but a perfect skeleton was left. ​I was amazed to see how quickly and efficiently the "carrion crows" could clean a carcass.

Dead White-tailed Deer
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 35869489 - White-tailed Deer skeleton; Walton County, Georgia. March 17, 2017.

This may seem like a morbid, useless observation. But forensic scientists study vultures to help find and gain clues from bodies from crimes. The time of death is often an important piece of evidence in obtaining a conviction in a murder case. Therefore, studying the amount of time it can take a group of vultures to clean a carcass can be important information. An interesting article on the subject can be found at

Walton County, Georgia

Publicado el marzo 17, 2022 06:16 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

18 de marzo de 2022

Irrational Fears

Water Snake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 25123075 - Plain-bellied Watersnake; Walton County, Georgia. March 18, 2013.

There are creatures that lurk in the dark waters… creatures that make our skin crawl… creatures that evoke fear. But what is the source of that fear? Is it truly the long, slithering serpent itself that brings these untamed emotions to the surface? I’d dare say “no”. It may be the fear of the unknown that spikes the cortisol and adrenaline, triggering our emotions and driving our irrational thoughts.

The majority of the snake calls I receive through my animal control job are, in fact, harmless. Although every caller thinks they have a copperhead or “water moccasin” in their living room, ninety-nine percent of the time it turns out to be some species of rat snake or water snake.

Yes, the watersnake genera (Nerodia) are thick, heavy keeled snakes just like the Cottonmouth or Copperhead, and they too prefer and overlap in wet habitats. But a little bit of study of a few key features can turn someone’s uncontrolled hysteria into a mild caution. Both the Cottonmouth and Copperhead have vertically elliptical pupils; the water snakes have round pupils. “But I’m not going to get that close to look at its eyes!”, most people say. So studying the range of each snake and pattern is also a key to identifying.

But either way, stay calm, back off, and let it be. There is no need to go chopping off the head of a harmless creature because of an irrational emotion borne of ignorance.

Publicado el marzo 18, 2022 07:12 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observación | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario