Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Early Morning Shoot at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

Not many big birds on my early morning shoot at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge where I met with other members of the Coastal Chapter of the GNPA. Leading our group was Diana Churchill , author of A Birder's Eye View, a compilation of 53 select articles written in a twice monthly column for the Savannah Morning News
It was a foggy morning at the refuge, but a brilliant sunrise peeked through the moss draped oak trees casting a fiery glow on the dew drenched grass. There were hundreds of songbirds darting from tree to tree feasting on the many insects to fatten up for their fall migration. However, without a very long lens, it was impossible for me to photograph the tiny birds. 
Sunrise-Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
In our cars, we began the four mile wildlife drive through the refuge stopping when we spotted any bird activity. My first photo was of the red winged blackbird plentiful in the rice patties feeding on the seeds from the plants. The blackbirds nest in these patties as well as in cattails, rushes and grasses. 
Romalea Guttata Grasshopper
Next stop on the wildlife drive, a grasshopper resting on a tall grass. I was hoping to see some long-legged waders such as but with the exception of the Cattle Egret below, they failed to show up.
Our group stopped and walked the cobblestone path passing an old brick cistern some of the only remains from the 1700's rice plantation. On the path built by volunteers was a wooden photo blind nestled in the marsh. A perfect place to view and photograph unsuspecting birds, but my only photograph was of a green tree frog resting on a large blade of grass.
 Continuing on our wildlife drive, we stopped at a pond filled with lily pads and edged with tall grasses. I never would have seen this purple gallinule had Diana not pointed it out to us. There were several swimming and some walking on the lily pads. It is said the purple gallinule swims like a duck and walks on the lily pads like a chicken.
We were not the only ones watching the purple gallinule! Out of the tall reeds swam an alligator slowly making his way toward the gallinules. There are many alligators in the refuge and they can be seen in the fall and winter sunning on the banks of the ponds and canals in the refuge. It is illegal to harass or feed the gators, but irresponsible humans do just that and many times the illegally fed gator has to be euthanized as it is becomes a threat to humans.

We walked just a little farther and saw another gator much smaller than the one stalking the gallinules or was he stalking the gallinules? When we walked back to our vehicles, the alligator had disappeared. Maybe we were who the gator was interested in? 

A warning sign reminding all who visit the refuge to be "gator safe".
This will not be my last visit to Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. Maybe one day, I'll get to photograph many big birds there, but feel quite satisfied with what I have accomplished on this outing.

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Creative Commons License
Photo-per-Diem by Lynne Daley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.photo-per-diem.blogspot.com.