20. joulukuuta 2022

Winter Fog

December 18, 2017 nature journal entry...
Song Sparrow
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 36645984 - Song Sparrow; Walton County, Georgia. December 18, 2017.

Monday, 7:58 AM – in the upper forties at sunrise; much warmer than Saturday’s 28° morning. The warmer air made for lots of fog on the drive into work. Before starting my day, I walked up to the main retention pond to check for any new ducks. A female Hooded Merganser practiced solo dives out in the fog; a Kingfisher was barely discernable. Heading back into the office, a Song Sparrow was watching my footsteps as I passed by the blackberry and Mimosa tangles near the shelter back door.

Walton County, Georgia

  • Forecast: morning fog, slight chance of afternoon showers; cloudy, high 62°
  • Sunrise 7:33 AM; sunset 5:27 PM.
  • Day length: 9 hours, 53 minutes
  • Near new moon.
Lähetetty 20. joulukuuta 2022 19:44 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

21. lokakuuta 2022

Upcoming Fall Okefenokee Swamp NWR Trip!

It’s time for a fall trip to my favorite destination: the Okefenokee Swamp! It’s been a long, busy summer so I’m happy to get away for a few days of absolute peace. I’ll be making a solo trip and hitting a few of the canoe trails that I haven’t covered yet.

I plan to leave around 4 AM and make the drive down to arrive at the Stephen C Foster State Park and launch by 10 AM. I have a wilderness permit reserved for the Canal Run platform the first night. With this permit, I’ll be able to paddle a section of the orange trail I haven’t yet explored. After a night in the swamp, I’ll paddle back to SCF State Park, load up and drive around south of the swamp to the eastern entrance at the Suwannee Canal Recreation area where I have a cabin rented at Okefenokee Pastimes for two nights. I’ll spend the next two days paddling an out-and-back down the pink trail to Monkey lake and then the green trail from Kingfisher Landing to Bluff Lake and back.


The yellow arrows point to the trail sections I'll cover this trip

​My current species count within the refuge stands at 286 (see www.inaturalist.org/projects/www-okefenokee-photography-by-william-wise). It will be difficult to increase that species count too much, but I’ll certainly be able to reach over 2,000 photographed observations within the great Okefenokee on this trip. I can't wait!


A map of my current iNaturalist observations within the Refuge

Want to make a virtual exploration of the Okefenokee Swamp? Every few days receive a blog featuring nature journals, articles, book excerpts and natural history of the alligators, reptiles, birds, insects, flora and other fauna of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Subscribe at https://okefenokee.photography/. You can also join the Okefenokee NWR Project here on iNaturalist to view all of the wonderful Okefenokee iNaturalist observations.

Lähetetty 21. lokakuuta 2022 19:57 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

11. kesäkuuta 2022

Confused Heron

From my June 2012 nature journal...
Great Blue Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 20052938 - Great Blue Heron; Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. June 11, 2012.

I was on the last half-mile stretch of my daily 35 mile commute when I spotted a Great Blue Heron standing in a neighbor’s front yard, right next to the sidewalk. “Now that’s weird”, I thought to myself. He was standing alongside a dry, rock-lined drainage ditch as if he were fishing for food. But that little drainage ditch was dry!

Only after heavy rains does that drain have any water, and even then it is only about an inch deep. But I suppose from up in the air, with the sun reflecting off the concrete, it may look like a tiny stream. Somehow it had attracted his attention.

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is the largest North American heron. It is a year-round resident in Georgia. Their primary diet is fish, but I have photographed plenty snapping up frogs, snakes, dragonflies and other insects.

Looking more closely, I could see his feathers weren’t fully formed. Short, neatly rowed, un-tattered feathers lined his side and back. There were no long plumes down his back or from the crown of the head like the typical adult heron. Perhaps this was an inexperienced juvenile, striking out on his own to find new feeding grounds. Well, he wasn’t going to find any fish in a dry, cement lined drainage ditch!

  • Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
Lähetetty 11. kesäkuuta 2022 15:51 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 havainto | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

10. kesäkuuta 2022

Green Mamba???

From my June 10, 2016 nature journal...
Rough Greensnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30531059 - Rough Greensnake; Walton County, Georgia. June 10, 2016.

A frantic 911 caller sent one of our animal control officers out to catch this "highly venomous Green Mamba" they had in their house. No doubt, it must have escaped from an exotic animal breeder somewhere nearby (right). Well, actually, it was just a Rough Green Snake; a very common and harmless garden variety snake found here in Georgia. But a very beautiful specimen nonetheless!

Rough Greensnakes (Opheodrys aestivus) are probably the most arboreal snakes in our region and spend the majority of their time hunting for insects, spiders, and other invertebrates in vegetation well above the ground. When encountered, greensnakes often freeze, relying on their green coloration for camouflage. (Source: Savannah River Ecology Laboratory website)

Greensnakes are quite camouflaged in the wild, blending in with the other slender green vines and vegetation. I’ve often walk by one only to have it drop from a branch and slither away quicker than a photo can be taken. This specimen, however, was quite easy to photograph. A little bit of handling tired it out and it became fairly docile. It let me use a variety of lenses as I posed it in a nearby tree for some more natural looking photographs.

Many harmless snakes are misidentified and unfortunately killed. In our region (the southeastern United States), there are only a few species of venomous snakes. Learning to identify the few venomous snakes might save a harmless and ecologically beneficial snake’s life next time it happens to crawl into your home.

​Walton County, Georgia

Rough Greensnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30531059 - Rough Greensnake; Walton County, Georgia. June 10, 2016.

Lähetetty 10. kesäkuuta 2022 14:25 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 havainto | 3 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

9. kesäkuuta 2022

What's Bugging Me

From my June 9, 2020 nature journal...
Giant Stag Beetle
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 49044793 - Giant Stag Beetle; Walton County, Georgia. June 9, 2020.

“I’m not much of a bug guy.” Yep, I said that. A few months back I made that statement when emailing a photographer friend. And he throws it back in my face in jest each time I post a new insect shot! However, I really can’t help it when these bugs keep crawling, flying or landing right in front of my lens! But what’s really bugging me is how much a new photography interest can cost.

I started off in the ‘90s as a reptile fanatic, mostly snakes and alligators. My 300mm lens was just fine for many years. Then in 2015, my eyes were opened to the world of birds. And, of course, I had to buy more equipment! I had to get that super-telephoto to give me the reach. And certainly I had to have more frames-per-second, so a higher end DSLR was “needed”.

Widow Skimmer
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 49022317 - Widow Skimmer; Walton County, Georgia. June 5, 2020.

So I’m sure if this “bug photography” stuff continues, I’ll be looking to buy more macro-lenses and whatever else might go along with insect photography. Then what’s next? Drones? Camera traps? But hey, other hobbies can be just as expensive, right?!

Carolina Grasshopper
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 49558835 - Carolina Grasshopper; Walton County, Georgia. June 13, 2020.

Lähetetty 9. kesäkuuta 2022 14:43 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 7 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

8. kesäkuuta 2022

Turtle on a Fence Post

"A politician is just like a turtle on a fence post: he didn't get up there by himself; you wonder who put him there; he can't get anything done up there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down."

Box Turtle
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 17867205 - Eastern Box Turtle; Walton County, Georgia. June 8, 2017.

One of my co-workers brought in an Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) that his German Shepherd had found and threw around like a chew toy. Some marginal scutes were broken off the front of his carapace (upper shell), but it otherwise seemed okay.

A few characteristics identified this nice specimen as a male. Male box turtles have more of a concave plastron then females. Their eyes also tend to be more red than the females. This particular guy had some strikingly red eyes… no Photoshop enhancements here!

I took advantage of some time and took him out for a photoshoot. I couldn’t resist placing him on some upright posts nearby for that “Turtle on the Fencepost” shot.

  • Walton County, Georgia USA

Box Turtle
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 17867205 - Eastern Box Turtle; Walton County, Georgia. June 8, 2017.

Lähetetty 8. kesäkuuta 2022 17:32 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 havainto | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

5. kesäkuuta 2022

Texas Tarantula

From my 2016 nature journal...

Tarantula
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30474070 - Texas Brown Tarantula; Hays County, Texas. June 5, 2016.

While enjoying a Sunday morning outdoor breakfast at my parents' home in Driftwood, Texas, my daughter spotted this creepy-crawly scaling the screen of the patio. We gently knocked it down with a pool brush safely into a bucket. After finishing breakfast, I took him down the road for a photo shoot in a more natural setting before releasing him to do what Texas Tarantulas do.

Aphonopelma hentzi, the Texas brown tarantula, is one of the most common species of tarantula thriving in the southern-most United States today. Texas brown tarantulas can grow in excess of a four-inch leg span. The body is dark brown. Shades may vary between individual tarantulas and are more distinct after a molt.

Lähetetty 5. kesäkuuta 2022 17:33 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 havainto | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

2. kesäkuuta 2022

First visit to Donnelley WMA, June 2021

From my 2021 nature journal...
Donnelley WMA

Great Blue Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 83615611 - Great Blue Heron; Donnelley WMA, South Carolina. June 5, 2021.

I wanted a place to get away for a day. It had to be within four hours from my home, had to have alligators, and would have plenty of trails to fill an entire day. Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in Colleton County, South Carolina fit the bill. Following observations on iNaturalist, I pinpointed Donnelley WMA as an alligator hotspot. I messaged a couple of iNat users that frequent the area and got some great tips. Although it is primarily managed for hunting, it was a great habitat for non-game species as well.

I woke up at 4:30 AM and was within the WMA by 8:30. I first drove the loop, stopping in a few locations to photograph a couple of gators. I finally parked and got out on Blocker Run Road alongside two large bodies of water where most of the alligator activity takes place. I wasn’t disappointed.

Alligator
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 81894360 - American Alligator; Donnelley WMA, South Carolina. June 5, 2021.

As soon as I exited my car at the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in South Carolina, I knew it was going to be a good day! The morning was still calm and peaceful. But I as walked closer to the water, a large splash broke the glass surface of the marsh. A large American Alligator came up out of the water crunching a blue crab in its jaws!

Even if you never actually laid eyes upon an alligator at Donnelley WMA (which is virtually impossible), their evidence was all throughout the habitat. From tail drags and footprints in the mud, to multiple piles of clay-like droppings, the signs of crocodilians was everywhere!

Alligator
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 83259530 - American Alligator track; Donnelley WMA, South Carolina. June 5, 2021.

Although my primary reason for choosing Donnelley WMA for a day trip was alligators, I knew from iNaturalist users there would be plenty of birding photography opportunities as well. And I wasn't let down! I spent several hours walking the berms between the old rice fields getting my fill of long-legged wading birds and American Alligators. I was able to add 17 new species to my South Carolina list.

Anhinga
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 82337731 - Anhinga; Donnelley WMA, South Carolina. June 5, 2021.

Green Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 83161476 - Green Heron; Donnelley WMA, South Carolina. June 5, 2021.

Coming around the corner of one of dirt roads that runs through the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in South Carolina, I interrupted a Turkey Vulture scavenging an afternoon lunch of Armadillo and Cottonmouth. I would much rather have photographed the Cottonmouth alive!

Turkey Vulture
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 82611304 - Turkey Vulture; Donnelley WMA, South Carolina. June 5, 2021.

The day was getting late, the humidity was getting high, and my feet were getting tired. But as I passed a canal along the Boynton Trail at Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, I saw a splash from the corner of my eye and heard that wonderful little chirp. Baby gators! I could see about fourteen babies in the pod... and hear several more. Two were larger sized - perhaps from last year's clutch. I didn't get to photograph them all, but was careful not to post duplicates on iNaturalist.

Baby Alligator
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 82732407 - Juvenile American Alligator; Donnelley WMA, South Carolina. June 5, 2021.

Later in the afternoon I walked out to the Tupelo Swamp and circled the entire Boynton Trail. The WMA’s website was completely accurate in stating that the WMA hosts hundreds of gators. Over the course of my wanderings, I photographed 112 individual alligators within Donnelley WMA. The intermittent clouds blocked the sun, but the low country humidity made my feet stumble by late afternoon. I left Donnelley around 4 PM, just before the thunderstorms rolled in. It was a beautiful place with a variety of habitats, and I’m sure to return!

Donnelley Wildlife Donnelley Wildlife Management Area; Colleton, South Carolina, USA.

  • Sun and clouds with afternoon thunderstorms. High of 86 F.
  • Sunrise 6:15 AM, Sunset 8:27 PM
  • Day length: 14 hours, 12 minutes (+40s)
  • Moon 19% Waning Crescent
Lähetetty 2. kesäkuuta 2022 17:29 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 232 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

1. kesäkuuta 2022

Sandhill Crane Colt

From my June 1, 2013 nature journal...

Sandhill Crane
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 28110339 - Sandhill Crane; Exner Marsh Nature Preserve, Illinois. June 1, 2013.

While visiting my family in Illinois, I made a springtime trip to the Exner Marsh Nature Preserve in McHenry County. This small natural area couched in a landscape of subdivisions is actually a great place for for some birding and wildlife photography.

I followed the trails and paths around the cattail lined ponds. The typical Red-winged Blackbirds flitterd between the reeds and filled the air with their distinctive calls. But in the woods along the marsh edges I got my first closeup view of a large Sandhill Crane. I’ve seen Antigone canadensis from a distance, but close up view of this giant bird is quite impressive.

As I crept closer for better photos, I could see the crane had me in its sights, but yet it wasn’t making a quick exit. And I soon found why it wasn't flying off: her awkwardly long-legged colt was not far behind her. Cranes usually lay two eggs in the spring and often only one chick survives. For the first three to four weeks, the chicks sleep under the mother's wings until they grow to be colts. They beging to forage on their own and practice flight. By the end of summer they are ready to migrate with their parents.

After seeing her baby, I didn’t push too close. I didn’t want to stress either of them out. This gangly, long-legged juvenile might struggle if forced into water that was too deep.

Eastern Chipmunk
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 28110338 - Eastern Chipmunk; Exner Marsh Nature Preserve, Illinois. June 1, 2013.

Mute Swan
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 28110340 - Mute Swan; Exner Marsh Nature Preserve, Illinois. June 1, 2013.

Lähetetty 1. kesäkuuta 2022 19:24 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 3 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

27. toukokuuta 2022

Defenders of Wildlife photography contibution

As an aspiring conservation photographer, it is an honor to be a contributor for the Defenders of Wildlife campaign to protect Georgia's Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge! Click the image to read the most recent article and support the cause! To follow my Okefenokee Photography Project blog, go to www.okefenokee.photography

Okefenokee Swamp
© Photographer: William Wise | Middle Fork Suwannee River; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 2015.

Lähetetty 27. toukokuuta 2022 13:02 käyttäjältä williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti