Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #188 – A Special Place

Our host Karina asks us to show us the places that are or were special to you and tell us why. I’ve chosen to feature two National Wildlife Refuges located in Southeast Georgia.

Working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mission

The National Wildlife Refuge System is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These public lands and waters across the United states are set aside to protect many species. They are special places to experience nature and to view wildlife. There are over 560 National Wildlife Refuges in the United States.

The Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America’s most unspoiled natural wilderness areas. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge web page, “the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area within the refuge boundaries.  In addition, the refuge is a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention – 1971) because it is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems.”

The refuge headquarters are located in Folkston, Georgia. There is also access to the refuge in Georgia’s Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo and the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross.

Alligators in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Turtle in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Swallowtail Butterflies in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Wild Turkey in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Snowy Egret in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Located just a few miles east of I-95 in Townsend, Georgia, Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including nearly 350 species of birds. In the spring, hundreds of wood storks, egrets, and other birds can be seen building their nests in the trees on Woody Pond.

Great Blue Heron in Flight at Harris Neck
Pair of Wood Storks building a nest at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond
Baby Alligators at Woody Pond

Many thanks to our guest host Karina of Murtagh’s Meadow for the challenge Lens’Artists #188: A Special Place

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #142 – You Pick It

Ann-Christine’s choice for the challenge this week is “You Pick It”. My topic is Spring has Sprung!

I’m not a cold weather person and winter just lasts too long for me. All winter I look forward to seeing the colorful blooms of azaleas and Dogwoods signalling the beginning of spring. Usually by St. Patrick’s Day the azaleas are in full bloom and the vibrant pink blossoms are on display all over town. They were a little late this year but to me they seemed more beautiful than ever.

Spring Azaleas, to
Azalea blooms

The blooms on Flowering Dogwoods are another sight I welcome each spring.

Dogwood Blooms
Dogwood Blossom

I also welcome the signs of spring in the animal world. Egrets, Wood Storks and other long legged wading birds like to build their nest in the spring and a great place to see them nesting is in the trees at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Alligators are coming out of their hibernation in the spring and if you are lucky you may even spy some baby alligators at the refuge.

Nesting Birds
Nesting Wood Storks
Baby Alligators

Happy Spring Everyone!

Many thanks to Ann-Christine for this weeks Lens-Artists Challenge #142: You Pick It

Bird Weekly Challenge #21: Birds with Black Feathers

I searched through my archives for birds with black feathers and came up with birds I saw in Alaska, Texas, Colorado, and close to home in Georgia. The photo above is a Hooded Merganser at Inks Lake in Texas.

Oystercatcher in Alaska
Puffins on the Columbia Glacier Cruise from Valdez, Alaska
Whooping Cranes in Texas
Black Billed Magpie, Colorado
Wood Stork on nest in Georgia

Thank you Lisa. for this Bird Weekly Challenge #21: Birds with Black Feathers

Nesting Birds at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Wood storks, egrets, and herons build their nests every spring in the trees of Woody Pond at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Located in Georgia just a few miles from I 95 in between Savannah and Brunswick, it is a great day trip from our home.

Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Wood storks were placed on the Endangered Species list in 1984. After almost 30 years of conservation efforts to increase the wood stork population, their status was upgraded to Threatened in June, 2014.

A path along the dike beside Woody Pond provides a great place to view the birds. The wood storks and egrets shared the trees.

Wood Storks and Great Egrets
Wood Storks and Great Egrets

Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond
Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond

Many of the wood storks were working on their nests. None of their eggs had hatched yet.

Wood Storks building a nest
Wood Storks building a nest

Wood Stork on nest
Wood Stork on nest

As I took photos, Henry used the spotting scope and pointed out a mother egret with chicks that I would have never seen. The nests were a long way from where we were so the picture isn’t the best but it gives you an idea of the size of the baby egret.

Great Egret with chicks
Great Egret with chicks

In the shallow water at the edge of the pond a tri-colored heron entertained us as he searched for food.

After leaving the refuge we stopped at the Smallest Church in America to take a look and do a little geocaching.

Smallest Church in America
Smallest Church in America

An arsonist burned this church in November, 2015. The church is being rebuilt through the efforts of volunteers and the work is almost complete.

After finding the geocache hidden near the church we headed for home.