Nesting season of our protected and vulnerable shore birds and sea turtles is in full swing, and so are summer beach vacations. With the Independence Day holiday weekend marking the height of beach vacation time, states in the southeast along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts reminds beachgoers how to “share the shore.” Help shore-nesting birds and turtles survive while enjoying beach time in their coastal habitats during this holiday weekend and beyond. Typically from April through August, shorebirds, seabirds, and turtles rely on the sandy beaches for critical nesting habitats. Everyone headed to the beach can make a big difference in their nesting success. Be a hero for beach-nesting birds and turtles this Independence Day weekend and beyond by following these simple tips:
Stay off the dunes. Walk below the high tide lines or on the wet-sand. The dry sand and dunes above the high tide, also called the wrack line are where shorebirds and sea turtles are nesting.
Do the “flock walk” and observe from a distance. Keep at least 300 feet from nesting birds and walk around flocks of birds. Getting too close to nesting shorebirds, seabirds and wading birds can cause them to flush from their breeding sites, leaving vulnerable eggs and chicks exposed to the elements and predators. Egg temperatures can increase to lethal levels after just a few minutes of direct sun exposure. Birds and turtles lay eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand where the nests, eggs and chicks are camouflaged to blend with its surroundings. This makes makes them difficult to be seen and vulnerable of being stepped by beachgoers. Also, watch where you set up camp. Pay attention, if a bird acts aggressively towards you, it’s likely that you are too close to its nest.
Look for Critical Wildlife Area closures. Be on the lookout for signs designating nesting and critical areas on the beach or coastal islands – avoid these posted areas as they are closed to public access to protect high concentrations of wading birds, shorebirds and turtles while they nest and raise their offspring. Boaters and beachgoers can help by keeping distance and noise volumes low near these critical areas.
Keep Fido at home or on a leash. Even fun-loving, well-behaved dogs can frighten shorebirds, causing them to abandon their eggs and chicks. If you bring your dog with you to the shore, go to a beach where they’re allowed and follow all leash laws.
Properly stash the trash, fill the holes, and leave no trace. Trash and food scraps attract predators, such as raccoons and crows that prey on bird/turtle eggs and chicks. Litter on beaches and in the water can entangle birds, turtles and other wildlife. Beachgoers can help beach-nesting birds and other wildlife by properly disposing of all trash, filling in human-made holes in the sand, and removing all personal gear from the beach before sunset. Fishing line can be deadly to birds, sea turtles and other wildlife, so be sure to dispose of it properly. Search for a monofilament recycling station near you.
Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Keep personal fireworks off the beach and at home; attend an official event instead that has been properly authorized for beach areas. The loud sounds and bright lights of personal fireworks on the beaches and waterways can have catastrophic effects on nesting birds and their chicks, as well as nesting sea turtles.
Currently all seven species of our sea turtles are listed as federally threatened or endangered. Some of the cause(s) of their decline include loss of habitat, boat strikes, capture and drowning in commercial fishing nets, and many other human-caused dangers. It is believed that as a result of these detrimental threats only about one in four thousand sea turtles will survive to reproductive maturity, exact estimates vary.
Tips while visiting turtle nesting beaches:
LIGHTS OFF! Leave your bright lights at home (or carry red “turtle-friendly” lights). White lights can deter nesters and cause hatchlings to crawl the wrong way. If you’re staying the beach that is home for nesting turtles, turn off exterior lighting and draw your shades at night during turtle season (May-October).
Take your beach chairs and gear home with you – discarded gear causes unnecessary obstacles for turtles and may cause them to false crawl. Fill in sandcastles and holes, which create roadblocks for nesting mothers and hatchlings.
Never litter. Ensure all trash, including plastic bags and six-pack rings, are properly disposed of or recycled.
Slowdown in the water! Boat strikes account for a significant number of sea turtle deaths annually.
If you’re ever lucky enough to encounter a nesting sea turtle or hatchling, please watch from a safe and quiet distance and never disturb a nest. All species of sea turtles are protected by state and federal laws.
To report a dead or injured sea turtle, please call 1-800-2-SAVE-ME.
Some of our near-threatened, threatened and/or endangered feathered friends that nest on the southeastern U.S. beaches are the snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, and American oystercatcher. The sea turtles that lay eggs in the southeast are loggerheads, leatherbacks, green turtles. All of these species and others are facing conservation challenges and need help from people to survive.
Pass the information on to your family and friends; let them know how to be a hero for our shore birds and turtles!
Resources for information about sharing the shore with beach-nesting birds and turtles:
Sign up for updates on the Georgia Shorebird Alliance Facebook page.
If you see people disturbing nesting birds, respectfully tell them how their actions can affect the birds. If the people continue, contact DNR’s Law Enforcement hotline, (800) 241-4113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To report any dead, sick or injured sea turtles to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Marine Resources Division at 912-280-6892. You can also call the Stranding Hotline at 1-800-2-Save-Me (1-800-272-8363).
June 20 – 26 is National Pollinator Week 2022! Sponsored by Pollinator Partnership, Pollinator Week hopes to raise awareness of pollinators and encourage action to protect them. For some ideas on how to celebrate, check out https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week Go to the Resources tab for suggestions on planting for pollinators, whether it’s a single plant or an entire pollinator garden. They also offer the opportunity to purchase a really cool t-shirt!!
In Georgia, the Great Pollinator Census through UGA is asking citizens to observe National Pollinator Week by learning more about ONE new pollinator. Maybe learn the name of a new butterfly (like the official name of that sort of light green butterfly with the big spot). Or learn about how the stinging insects that most of us have feared since an unfortunate encounter in childhood actually serve extremely useful roles as pollinators. You can download a butterfly identification guide from Georgia Wildlife by clicking https://georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/wrd/pdf/Georgia%20Butterflies%20Brochure.pdf The guide also contains useful information about planting to attract butterflies to your own yard.
The Great Georgia Pollinator Census (ggapc.org) will take place on August 19 and 20, 2022. A Citizen Science project created by UGA, the project generates a snapshot of pollinator populations, educates gardeners about the importance of pollinators and other beneficial insects, and generates a baseline from which to measure the growth or decline of pollinator populations. Census data is used to identify areas that need more pollinator habitat, and researchers use the data in pollination economic valuation studies.
(Image by Jenny Burdette)
Project goals include increasing pollinator habitat across Georgia, improving entomological literacy through participation, and generating useful data on pollinator populations.
Stay tuned for more info on how GNPA will offer opportunities to participate in the Great Georgia Pollinator Census on August 19th and 20th. We hope to have several small groups in a variety of locations. Please contact Jenny Burdette if you are interested in leading a small group.
Example of a few pollinators: Birds, Butterflies and Bees. Images By: Jimmy Cash
By: Tammy Cash. Image Credits: Left to right from the top – #1, #6, #10 Jamie Anderson. #3, #8, #9 Jimmy Cash. #2, #7 Tammy Cash. #4, #12 Jenny Burdette. #5 Cheryl Tarr. #11 Tom Wilson.
Photographers and nature lovers all across the nation head out into the natural world on June 15th each year, which is designated as Nature Photography Day! The GNPA is excited to celebrate this special day and encourage all who can to enjoy the day by capturing nature related images! We hope you will share your photos with us by tagging #gnpa_pix in your posts.
Part of the on-going mission at GNPA is to share our appreciation of the natural world and spotlight the value of nature as a photography special interest. How is nature valued, you may ask? Did you know that nature photography is an extremely important and powerful tool? Photographic images captured of our natural world, including wildlife, plants, insects, landscapes, seascapes, and much more, not only portray the natural beauty of our great planet, the images can effect change and make a real difference! They can help make a difference by telling a story that promotes existing, or even triggers new, conservation efforts, such as:
Protecting a threatened, endangered or near extinct animal or plant species.
Taking action to improve a section of land, natural waterways, rivers, bays, ocean shores, and more.
Demonstrating changes to habitats and ecosystems that are favorable or damaging, for example:
New pollinator gardens on publicly owned land.
Protected wetlands and habitats for specific plant(s) and animal(s).
Improvements being made to habitats, such as those damaged by wildfires, floods, land clearing, etc.
Documentation through photos of rising water levels, polluted water resources, increased spreading of invasive plants in an area, and other detrimental changes to environments and natural habitats.
And much more!
Another powerful tool that nature photography provides is INSPIRATION! Images of our natural world can inspire a greater appreciation, awareness, and stewardship of our natural world. They can inspire others to enjoy nature and discover the many wonders our world has to offer. Additionally, they inspire people of all ages to learn more about nature and photography!
Ideas for observing Nature Photography Day:
Nature Photography Day encourages us to take a breather from our busy lives and spend time connecting with nature – appreciating all the beauty it has to offer. It can be powerful! Nature is all around us. Take part anywhere you are, grab your favorite camera equipment, or use your cell phone camera, and head out! Here are some ideas for celebrating Nature Photography Day, or to connect with nature on any day:
Capture nature related images – even in your own backyard.
View nature photography images made by others. Visit websites, social media pages, find a book with inspiring nature images and information.
Watch a documentary or videos on our natural world and/or nature photography
Take an online or in-person class on nature photography (wildlife, birds, insects, plants, landscapes, and more)
Learn more about nature photography opportunities in your area including the environment, animal and plant inhabitants and their habitats.
Visit a wildlife refuge; preserve; or national, state, local park
Tour a botanical garden
Go bird watching
Enjoy the sunrise and/or sunset
Explore public wetlands, a lake, creek, river, or seashore.
Go hiking on designated trails
Share with others the information about Nature Photography Day, nature photography and the powerful tools it provides.
Whether you are beginner just learning nature photography, an enthusiast, hobbyist, professional, conservationist, or other type of photographer, it is the mission of GNPA to help nature photographers of all skill levels learn, grow and improve their photography, network with other outdoor photographers, and participate in exciting trips and events. We invite you to join GPNA and come “Shoot With Us!” Click here to learn more.
How will you celebrate Nature Photography Day? Tag us in your social media posts of your captured nature related images #gnpa_pix.
On October 6, 2021, the Conservation Committee of Georgia Nature Photographers Association presented its first statewide webinar about conservation by introducing the concept of Citizen Science with 6 speakers! Featured guest speakers were Caroline Nickerson from Sci-Starter and Andrew Snyder, who is Co-Chair of NANPA’s Conservation Committee and a wildlife biologist with Re-Wild. Several of the GNPA Conservation Committee members made presentations. Susan Perz coordinated the webinar, hosted by the Alpharetta Chapter with a brief introduction by Lee Friedman. Susan spoke about endangered species, camera traps and time lapse photography. Committee Chair Marcia Brandes shared Tammy Cash’s presentation on bird banding and the importance of reporting banded birds viewed in the wild. The presentation was illustrated with images captured by Tammy and Jimmy Cash, Jenny Burdette, and others. Chris Dahl presented his photos from a hummingbird banding event. Tom Wilson gave a presentation about amatuer astronomers and astrophotography, and the impact their images can have on Citizen Science. He shared some of the equipment he uses and how some of his images have been used by scientists/astronomers. Tom is a former GNPA Vice President and Chair of the Conservation Committee, and currently serves as the Communication Committee. The event was well attended online, and recorded for future viewing! The GNPA Conservation committee is proud to announce this webinar is now available for public viewing at the link below, as well as a list of resources related to the webinar.
A few resources from the webinar:
Carolyn Nicholson, a Senior Program Director with SciStarter.org recommends the following SciStarter.org conservation/nature related projects:
Help raise awareness and effect change by being a Citizen Scientist!
April is Citizen Science Month and there are thousands of opportunities for you to turn your curiosity into impact. There’s something for everyone, everywhere! Join others in learning about and participating in fun, real ways to help scientists answer questions they cannot answer without you.
Check out below a few of the projects chosen by the GNPA Conservation Committee where your photos can help make a positive difference! Visit SciStarter.org and citizenscience.com for other opportunities!
Spring is all about change as our winter landscapes start to bloom and lifeforms emerge from their winter hiding spots. What you see in your neighborhood (and when) is important to understanding how climate change is affecting communities everywhere. Your block-by-block insights help cities, engineers and local organizations build better solutions for a changing climate.
Photograph the beauty of spring around you and aid biodiversity research.
Document the butterflies, bees, grasses, flowers and more that you see around you! Simply upload your images of the natural world to the iNaturalist app and they’ll share the data with organizations like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Your observations help scientists study and protect the natural world!
Help researchers study pollinators and native plants.
How are ecosystems near you changing with the seasons? Budburst’s network of citizen scientists keep an eye on plants as seasons shift. Contributing observations as plants come up, bloom, turn to seed and more will also help you get outside all while learning about the natural world beyond your front door.
Take a walk outside and photograph the sky — NASA scientists need your cloud photos.
When scientists study clouds, they’re typically looking at them from above, from satellites. But that doesn’t give them the full picture. Clouds play a big role in the climate by reflecting, absorbing and scattering sunlight and infrared emissions from Earth. NASA needs your cloud observations to better understand how it all works!
Georgia On My Mind Exhibit and Chattahoochee Nature Center Happenings
Georgia Nature Photographers Association (GNPA) and the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) have partnered together on the current photography gallery at the Nature Center. Coinciding with the reopening of the CNC boardwalk on the Chattahoochee River, the theme of the gallery is “Georgia on My Mind”. The gallery celebrates the beauty of nature that can be found in Georgia. The 24 macro, wildlife and landscape photos capture the beauty and diversity of Georgia’s natural environment. Visit the CNC and view the gallery in the Discovery Center and while you are take a stroll out to the new CNC boardwalk along the river and made even more accessible with the pedestrian bridge.
The CNC will hold their 23rd annual Flying Colors Butterfly Festival on June 4-5. During that time there will be butterfly releases, pollinator experts to answer your questions, and the Butterfly Encounter in which you can photograph these winged wonders. The Butterfly Encounter will remain open for several weeks so you can visit during different hours of the day.
It is also time to start to prepare for the 7th annual partnership exhibition between Georgia Nature Photographers Association (GNPA) and the Roswell Fine Arts Association (RFAA) at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. This event is to be included as part of the fall Atlanta Celebrates Photography event and the theme is titled Double Vision. Twenty-four (24) images will be selected in the contest to be exhibited in the CNC River Resource Gallery in Roswell, Georgia. These same images will be interpreted by artists from the RFAA. When brought to the CNC for hanging, the photographic image and the artist’s interpretation will be hung side-by-side…thus the theme name Double Vision. Additional information on Double Vision coming soon.
The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a private, non-profit environmental education facility in Roswell, Georgia. The Chattahoochee Nature Center has as its mission to connect people with nature. It does this by focusing on educational outreach through the use of live flora and fauna. The Chattahoochee Nature Center also conducts educational programs and activities to inform its visitors about the natural environment.
Photo by Dale Aspy, GNPA
Georgia Nature Photographers support CNC’s mission by donating photographs of activities at a few specific events at the Chattahoochee Nature Center when requested by them. This provides volunteer photographers a controlled environment with a specific shot list for each occasion to photograph guests
For more information about CNC, including the types of events we provide, how to submit photos or videos, and photo submission guidelines contact GNPA’s partner rep Dale Aspy at email@example.com.