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Friends of GA State Parks needs you – and your camera – on September 24!

Friends of GA State Parks needs you – and your camera – on September 24!

By: Jenny Burdette.

Saturday, September 24, 2022, is National Public Lands Day. As part of commemorating this day, Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites (Friends) hosts Your State Parks Day, a day when volunteers arrive at Parks throughout the state to participate in park projects and give back to the places that offer us a wonderful setting in which to enjoy nature. Friends is a Conservation Partner with GNPA and would love to have a photographer on hand at each park to record the efforts of the volunteers.

This year, Friends will launch a state-wide project, Project Blaze a Trail, where volunteers will remap all of the trails in Georgia’s State Parks to update the trail maps. Volunteers will track the mileage, log the terrain and difficulty of each trail, and re-blaze trails to make them easier to follow. Additionally, volunteers will perform trail maintenance and collect trash along the trails.

Along with Blaze a Trail, Friends chapters at many parks will also have other projects. Volunteers will help beautify areas around park offices and entrances, restore picnic tables, plant pollinator gardens, and a perform a variety of other tasks depending on individual Park needs.

Times may vary from park to park, but most participate from 9 AM to 2 PM. No problem if you have an afternoon commitment and need to leave a bit early. At some parks drinks and lunch will be provided and work usually stops between 12 and 1 when everyone gathers to eat. Entry into the Parks will be free for anyone volunteering, and there is usually a free t-shirt involved.

Friends is asking for photographers to take photos of the volunteers at work. Photos will be used on social media, in Friends publications and mailings, and may be archived to promote Your State Parks Day in future years. Our partners at Friends provide full photo credit to both the photographer and to GNPA whenever an image is used.

GNPA members are mostly nature photographers, not event or portrait photographers. However, Your State Parks Day is an easy event to shoot. Volunteers are glad to be there and love being photographed while they work. No special equipment is needed, just a camera. If you’re not there, someone will be taking photos with a cell phone – great for social media, but not so great for print purposes. Photographing this event is much like taking candid photos of your own family, including the group shots where someone is invariably looking in the wrong direction!

It’s a no-stress event.

Interested?? Please email Jenny Burdette at cons_friends@gnpa.org to get more information and/or sign up. She can provide more details on how to shoot the event, which park is near you, answer any questions, etc. Mark September 24 on your calendar and bring your camera to a state park for a fun morning!

 

 

THE WAIT IS OVER! The Great Georgia Pollinator Census Starts Today – August 19th & 20th, 2022

THE WAIT IS OVER! The Great Georgia Pollinator Census Starts Today – August 19th & 20th, 2022

By Tammy Cash. Media resources provided by GGAPC.

Update to this article: If the weather does not cooperate, two rain dates have been added, Sunday, August 21st and Monday, August 22nd.  Counts can be accepted from these two dates as well! REMEMBER: Please know that the most important part of the project is YOU. YOU can make a difference! YOU promote the project, YOU count the insects, and YOU make sure that the data is uploaded to the website.  This project works because of YOU. Read how and see the links below.

Have you heard the buzz? On August 19th and 20th, Georgia and South Carolina residents will be venturing out to count all of the pollinators that we can find for the 2022 Great Georgia Pollinator Census! The census is a citizen science research project created by the University of Georgia and launched four years ago in 2019 inviting all Georgians to come together for two days to document pollinator populations. The project is designed for everyone to participate and make a difference for pollinator conservation! It further encourages everyone to create sustainable pollinator habitats and to learn about the many types of pollinators throughout the year. The program also offers a no-cost STEM program for educators, with teaching resources available through the program website.  Buzzing with excitement, the citizens of South Carolina will be joining the Great Georgia Pollinator Census for the August 2022 count, expanding the reach of the pioneering project in the Southeast!

It may sound un-bee-lievable, but did you know bees and butterflies aren’t the only pollinators out there. Learn more about all of the different types of pollinators, catch all the buzz about this year’s census and…

Join the count!

Here’s how: Visit the official website at www.ggapc.org where you can:

  1. Sign up for their newsletter to get the latest in your inbox
  2. Prepare for the count days on August 19th and 20th by:
  3. Check out the resources and share on social media
  4. Join and share Georgia Pollinator Census Facebook page and follow it on instagram @GaPollinators.

 

 

 

SHARE THE SHORE and BE A HERO for beach-nesting birds and turtles this holiday weekend and beyond! 

SHARE THE SHORE and BE A HERO for beach-nesting birds and turtles this holiday weekend and beyond! 

By: Tammy Cash

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:

In Georgia:

  • Beach-nesting bird tips and video are available at com/conservation/birds, click “Share the Beach”.
  • 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 rangerhotline@dnr.ga.gov.
  • 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).

In Florida:

In Alabama:

In South Carolina:

In North Carolina:

Summer is Pollinator Time – National Pollinator Week and the Great Georgia Pollinator Census

Summer is Pollinator Time – National Pollinator Week and the Great Georgia Pollinator Census

By: Jenny Burdette.

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.

monarch butterfly

Follow the Georgia Pollinator Census on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/georgiapollinatorcensus/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/gapollinators/

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

June 15th is Nature Photography Day!

June 15th is Nature Photography Day!

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.

Your Photos Can Save Wildlife

Your Photos Can Save Wildlife

By Dr. Susan Perz, Photo by Jimmy Cash.

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:

The Great Sunflower Projecthttps://scistarter.org/the-great-sunflower-project)

Susan Perz, Ph.D., Webinar Coordinator and Member of the Conservation Committee, presented 3 topics:  Endangered Species, Camera Trap Photography, and Time Lapse Photography.

Additional Related Resources: 

James Balog TED Talk about Nature Photography and his project Chasing Ice, which uses camera traps and time lapse photography. https://www.ted.com/talks/james_balog_time_lapse_proof_of_extreme_ice_loss?language=en

Georgia Endangered Species: To submit data on endangered species in GA:  https://georgiawildlife.com/conservation/species-of-concern

Florida Wildlife Commission produces annual reports on endangered species: https://myfwc.com/media/28338/2020-21endangeredspeciesreport.pdf

Camera Traps:  The Jaguar Identification Project https://www.jaguaridproject.com

Camera Traps in Florida, The FStop Foundationhttps://fstopfoundation.org. Their award-winning film about the Florida Wildlife Corridor is here: https://fstopfoundation.org/films-and-videos/

Chasing Ice https://chasingice.com

Sharing photos and videos with public schools for educational purposes. One of the videos that Susan Perz has shared with an elementary school is below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-gxw-JRMwk

 

 

 

 

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