Monday, August 15, 2011

The beach!

You can't go to an island and not visit the beach.  On this trip we visited two different beaches.  We went to Sancho Panza Beach at the north end of Little St. Simon's Island to do some bird watching.  We spent a wonderful afternoon at the Main Beach, which is about mid island and not very far from the Landing.

The trail to the Main Beach led through several small dunes.  The meadows between the dunes were filled with numerous pink flowers.  The Sea Pink, Marsh Pink or Rose of Plymoth (Sabatia stellaris) have five bright pink petals.  The petals are separated from the bright yellow center by a distinct carmine colored line.  Sea-Pinks range along the Atlantic shore from Maine to Florida.

Besides bird watching,  swimming and beach combing, we also seined!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Too many birds to little time!

This was the Friends second visit to the Little St. Simon's Island, the first being February 2006.  It was much colder on the earlier trip and we spent a lot less time outside!  However, it was a really fun trip.  I will always remember standing out in the cold and wind, watching the nesting Bald Eagles and a Great Horn Owl.  The Owl hunkered down into the nest so that what we mostly saw were the feathered ear tufts blowing in the wind.  We also saw numerous shore birds during that trip on a visit to Sancho Panza Beach on the North end of the island.  Many of the gulls, tern and sand pipers were difficult to identify, but I was excited to see some White Pelicans which are rather rare.

Spring is a great time to bird watch, and I was able to see a lot of birds I had never seen before.  Having blinds, spotting scopes and a guide familiar with the local birds was a plus!  I captured a few photos while at Goose Pond and the Rookery, and used them as references to complete my quickly drafted sketches of both locations.

It had been dry for a long time, and the ponds the birds depended on were quickly drying up.  This concentrated the birds, but they still managed to remain too far off to see without binoculars or a spotting scope.  I created a two page composite featuring some of the more interesting birds we saw that day.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A trip to Little St. Simon's Island

Every year the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Natural History plan a trip or two to some wonderful location in Georgia.  This past spring's trip was to Little St. Simon's Island.  A Privately owned Barrier Island off the Georgia Coast.  The island was opened to the public as a private nature preserve/resort in 1979.

Our group of 14 spent 3 days exploring the 10,000 acres of maritime forest, marshlands and beaches.  We biked, hiked, canoed, swam, fished and enjoyed the wonderful food and accommodations the island offers.  Above is a photo of the Hunting Lodge, the central building which houses the dinning room, lounge and offices.  The lodge was as interesting to paint as the ever changing marsh viewed through the trees.  The breeze kept the copious spanish moss moving.

Our group stayed in River Lodge (shown at left) and Cedar House.  They were perfect for our group, as they are next to each other, and each has a large shared great room, screened porch and large deck with views of the marsh.  This allowed us to occasionally gather as a group.

The porches and decks also gave me comfortable locations to sketch and paint from.  Below is a two page view from one of the decks.

Sketching and painting were great early morning activities I could do while drinking coffee and bird watching with the rest of the group.  There are well stocked bird feeders around all the buildings, and one of the frequent visitors at that time of year are Painted Buntings.  I was glad to have a seat and table to balance coffee, binoculars, camera and watercolor kit!

The below are a set of pages from my journal show the marsh next to the feeder and a pair of Painted Buntings at the feeder.