Georgia on my Mind

Caleb in the Garden Well, we’re back from our trip to see my nephew for his 3rd birthday. I haven’t gotten to see Caleb as much as I might like over the few years of his life, but we’ve been making a more concerted effort to stay in touch and see the little guy. So, for our trip to Georgia, we made an extended vacation that would allow us some time with him and my sister outside of the ‘group’ visits we’ve had (like the beach where there are 8 families, and too little private time).

Caleb’s birthday was a pretty cool idea – instead of gifts, my sister wanted to do a garden part. The concept: everyone brings a plant (vegetable, flower, fruit, whatever) to be planted in the new gardens that her father-in-law had built at their new home. It was a great idea, to me – Caleb really doesn’t need any more toys and loves plants; this way all of the kids could get into planting something and later coming back to see how it’s grown. Leave it to a environmentalist/preservationist to come up with a good idea like that.

Before and after the party, it was great to see Caleb again. He’s growing up so quickly, so he’s changed drastically since I saw him last in August. He’s also quite a handful – very energetic, he’s just hit the ‘Why?’ stage at the same time he’s hitting the delayed Terrible Two’s stage of being defiant. And he’s really smart, which means he knows how to make things difficult – especially since you can’t just give the standard ‘Because!’ answer – he wants to logically understand why things do or do not happen. His recall and logic are far beyond what I remember other kids having, but that might be a little bit of the proud uncle coming through.

Regardless, he’s a handful, as I said – from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed, he goes at one speed – fast. Whether running around, or playing pirate or questioning what you are doing, he rarely stays still for more than a few seconds. Even when sitting on your lap watching some of the very little TV he gets, he squirms incessantly, like he’s searching for that comfortable spot to lounge in.

But we still had a great time – he’s a cool kid, and I spent my time being the bad uncle, running around and playing swords and trying to get him interested in birds and wildlife. Just some snippets of our conversations:

Me: Oh no, Caleb cut my arms off! Now I’ll have to crawl over and bite off your kneecaps!
Caleb: Then I’ll cut off your lips, too!

Me: Okay, Caleb – you have to promise me that you won’t walk up to wild animals like raccoons.”
Caleb: Why? Don’t they want to play with me?
Me: Well, no – they don’t know how to play.
Caleb: Well, then … can I teach them how to play nice?

Caleb: Why do you use the binocyoururs to look at the birdies?
Me: Because it lets me see them when we can’t get up close to them.
Caleb: Are they scared of you? What did you do to the birdies?

Obviously, the nature lessons are going to have some work to do. But he did love the binoculars, carrying them around all over the house. He also liked my camera, although I think he was a bit befuddled by how to use it. But he was very careful to make sure that I made sure to put on my strap so that I didn’t break the camera. Good kid – always watching out for his absent-minded uncle.

Family Matters

Luna Moth It was also great to see my sister and brother-in-law again. Even when we saw them at the beach, it was only for a short while and they were busy seeing the whole family which made for very little one-on-one time. Although my cousins stopped by one night, it was mostly just Shari, myself, Cara, Andy, Caleb and my parents sitting around and catching up, talking politics, environment, etc. Andy is a great guy with a great mind (even if he is a lawyer) – I always enjoy talking to him. He was often busy with their new house – this is the first spring in there – but when he was finally able to sit down, I really enjoyed our talks. Hopefully when they come up in June for my cousin Erin’s wedding, we’ll have some more time to sit back and chill.

And their new house is fantastic – it’s just about everything I want in a house. Almost all wood, with exposed beams, stained woodwork doorways, built-in bookcases and a 2-sided stone fireplace (one side in the living room, one side facing the kitchen), a spacious kitchen, lots of cedar on the outside with stone patios and wooden decks on both the 1st and 2nd floor and a wide open living room with a heck of a view. They are on a new lake – not sure of the name – but they get a view that rivals almost any lake view I’ve seen (pictures forthcoming). Although the weather was uneven while we were there, even in the fouler weather it was a great view. Surrounded by old and medium-growth pine forest on all sides, they have nice forests mixed with the lake habitat to enjoy.

Slender Baskettail Not only that, but because they are around a lot of farmland, there is still a sense of peace and quite a bit of nature around them. Eventually, people will be able to bring electric motor boats, canoes and kayaks to the lake (via a boat ramp on the far shore), but it might take a while for it to become popular, so for now they have a mecca to themselves. I’m just a little jealous of how nicely my sister designed this house and their view/property.

And what would a trip be without a little birding?

And, of course, Shari and I went birding around the property and some local spots. I had created a GoogleMap of some of the hotspots, although we never really got a chance to visit many of them – including the beautiful Fernwood Forest which I loved the first time I was down there. We did visit two places that were in the Guide to Georgia Birding – E. L. Huie Land Application Facility (a water treatment plant with ponds that are sometimes very good for birding) and Newman Wetlands Center just down the road from there. E. L. Huie was disappointing – although there were still 3 pools (of 5) still partially full, there was little to see there – either we were too early or too late, I’m not sure which. Newman Wetlands Center was better, with a short 1-mile trail that went through mostly wetlands habitat. The pickings were slim there, too, but definitely more interesting than E. L. Huie. Unfortunately, we were losing light quickly, so we didn’t have as good a day as we might have. Still, it was fun to get out.

The place to be, it turned out, was Cara and Andy’s property. They have two ‘trails’ running through the two side properties – they are old logging trails that have been left to go back to nature but are still clear enough to provide edge habitat for birds, bugs and lizards. I went out daily and walked along at least one of the trails, just trying to see what I could find. Those trails and the reservoir itself accounted for the majority of our sightings – nothing new, but I did get a few birds for the 2008 checklist, including brown-headed nuthatch, pine warbler, palm warbler, eastern towhee, osprey and red-tailed hawk. The complete list (^ = first for 2008, * = seen on Cara & Andy’s property):

  • Canada Goose
  • Mallard
  • Wood Duck ^
  • American Coot*
  • Green-winged Teal ^
  • Pied-billed Grebe* ^
  • Great Blue Heron*
  • Bald Eagle*
  • Red-shouldered Hawk* ^
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Osprey* ^
  • Turkey Vulture*
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler*
  • Canada Warbler* ^
  • Palm Warbler* ^
  • Pine Warbler* ^
  • Prairie Warbler (heard)
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Blue-gray gnatcatcher* ^
  • Eastern Phoebe ^
  • Carolina Wren
  • Marsh Wren ^
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Carolina Chickadee*
  • Cardinal*
  • Blue Jay*
  • Eastern Bluebird* ^
  • Chipping Sparrow* ^
  • Field Sparrow*
  • House Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow*
  • Eastern Towhee* ^
  • House Finch
  • Goldfinch*
  • Boat-tailed Grackle ^
  • Red-winged Blackbird*
  • American Crow*
  • Mourning Dove
  • Rock Dove
  • DC Cormorant*
  • Common Loon (breeding plumage)*
  • Red-breasted Merganser*
  • Brown-headed Nuthatch* ^
  • White-eyed vireo* ^
  • Whip-poor-will (heard)* ^
  • European Starling
  • Downy Woodpecker

I also had the fortune of catching some butterflies and dragonflies down there – including 1 new butterfly, 2 new moths and 2 new dragonflies. The overall list wasn’t as extensive – although they are further along than we are in terms of weather, they are still just getting to true spring there (* = new for 2008, # = new species, ^ = new to photo lifelist).

Butterflies & Moths

  • Horace’s Duskywing * ^
  • Juvenal’s Duskywing * # ^
  • Sleepy Orange * #
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail *
  • Spicebush Swallowtail *
  • Orange Sulphur *
  • Pearl Crescent *
  • Red-Banded Hairstreak *
  • Viceroy *
  • Luna Moth *
  • Necklace Moth * # ^
  • Unidentified Moth * # ^


  • Blue Corporal *
  • Common Baskettail * # ^
  • Slender Baskettail * # ^
  • Common Green Darner *

4 Responses to “Georgia on my Mind

  • I’m just catching up on some of your older posts. That sounds like some good family time. 🙂

  • It was – my sister and her husband are good people. And I, of course, adore my nephew.

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