Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tonight on Georgia Outdoors

Have you ever wanted to live the life of a wildlife biologist? Georgia Outdoors profiles a few groups of average citizens who are making a difference by helping to keep track of wildlife populations.

We'll start at the Colonial Coast Birding Festival, a gathering of hundreds of bird watchers who converge on the coast every year to explore the aviary wonders of coastal Georgia. Attendees also learn some techniques in documenting and tracking bird populations.

Next, we'll follow an energetic young group of Citizen Scientists-in-training as they participate in Georgia's Annual Youth Birding Competition.

Plus, we'll feature bird and butterfly counting and participate in the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center's Dragonfly Identification Program. You won't want to miss this action packed program!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Georgia Outdoors Special this Evening

Georgia, with its miles of wilderness, mysterious swampland, and diversity of wildlife is fertile ground for unusual tales from the natural world. From the altamaha-ha, Georgia’s answer to the loch ness monster, to the search for the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, thought extinct for decades, we explore some of the legendary creatures, far-fetched myths and animal lore handed down for generations. What is fact and what is fiction?

Some of the most popular destinations in Georgia are our beaches. From the well-traveled sands of Tybee Island, to the protected shores of Cumberland Island, Georgia Outdoors explores the geology and ecology of our amazing beaches.

These areas are more than great spots for soaking in the sun. From nesting for shorebirds and sea turtles, to the important storm buffer of the dune system, beaches also play an essential ecological role. On this episode, we’ll take a closer look at where the water meets sand.

Tonight at 7 PM only on GPB.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Georgia Out...and about...Georgia Marshes

Keely's picks for great outdoors adventures-- Marsh style.

Fort Morris Historic Site - Midway, GA
Come & Take It! -- American Revolution Encampment
Saturday, November 17; 11:00 AM -4:00 PM
This American Revolution encampment commemorates Colonel John McIntosh's defiant reply to a British demand for surrender: "Come & Take It!" Watch colonial demonstrations, musket and cannon drills, skirmish and more. Interpreters in historical attire will teach about colonial life. $1.50-$3. 912-884-5999.

Fort Pulaski National Monument
Saturday, November 17; 8:30 AM- 12 Noon
Guided Bicycle Tour of the Fort as well as surrounding areas. Park Rangers and employees from Chatham County Parks and Recreation, Oatland Island, and volunteers will lead a bicycle tour of the Rails-to-Trails, Battery Park on Tybee Island, Fort Pulaski National Monument, surrounding dike system, and the lighthouse trail. This tour will interpret natural and cultural resources, and allow participants to exercise as well.

Frederica National Monument
Visit the "Bloody Marsh Unit" of Fort Federica. The English and Spanish forces fought in an encounter later known as the "Battle of Bloody Marsh". The origin of the name came from the marsh supposedly running red with the blood of Spaniards. However, official Spanish records indicate that only seven grenadiers died during this battle. Due to the efforts of Lt. Patrick Sutherland of the (old) 42nd Regiment of Foot and the Highlanders from Darien, the battle was a British victory, ending the Spanish claim to Georgia.

Plus one suggestion for land lovers...

Panola Mountain State Park - Stockbridge, GA
Youth Basic Flyfishing Clinic
Saturday, November 17; 10:00 am -11:30 am
The two-hour clinic covers equipment, casting, safety issues and other tricks of the trade. If time permits participants may stay to catch the “Fish of Fish.” Our local instructors C. H. Brown and Michael Reilley suggest wearing long pants/shorts and hiking shoes, and bringing snacks, water and sunscreen. Georgia fishing license required for parents joining the group. $5 plus $3 parking. 770-389-7801.

Premiere Episode: Georgia's Marshes

Though Georgia’s coastline is relatively short – only about 100 miles long – it holds one third of the salt marsh habitat on the east coast. From the freshwater rivers which feed the marsh, into the muddy grassland of the marsh itself, we’ll explore the incredible biological diversity of the salt marsh.

We start with a kayak trip down Cathead Creek, a tributary of the mighty Altamaha river which feeds the marshland of Macintosh County. From there, we visit the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve for a tour of the marsh with a group of students. The salt marsh is also a great place for fishing, and we venture out to fish for red drum both at high tide and low tide.

Premieres this Friday, November 16, 9:30 PM
Repeats Saturday, November 17, 6 PM &
Tuesday, November 20, 7:30 PM

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On the Road: Lighthouses

Escaping the expected cold temperatures of the city, Georgia Outdoors is heading to the coast. This week we'll be shooting for an upcoming show about historic sites in Georgia. We'll be visiting all but one of the five remaining lighthouses along the Georgia coast.

If you've ever been to Tybee Island you've seen the tall black and white Tybee Island Lighthouse but did you ever notice little Cockpur Lighthouse on your way? Cockspur Lighthouse sits in the mouth of the Savannah River's South Channel and at high tide is almost inundated with water.

Working southward, the Sapelo Island Lighthouse comes next. The lighthouse sits on southern end of Sapelo Island guiding the way through Doboy Sound to the Port of Darien, which in its heyday, was an important port for lumber and agriculture.

The St. Simon's Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in Georgia reported to be haunted. in 1888, the keeper and his assistant got into an altercation in which the assistant shot the keeper dead. People to this day report hearing footfalls on the tower stairs.

The Little Cumberland Lighthouse is the only lighthouse we will not be able to visit. The lighthouse sits on a privately held island in the St. Andrew's Sound and access to the lighthouse is not permitted. Today a large dune protects the lighthouse from the sea but also blocks the good views from the nearest public viewing area-- the water.

There was one other lighthouses in Georgia. The Amelia Island Lighthouse was originally constructed on the southern tip of Cumberland Island but it was dismantled and rebuilt on the north end of Amelia Island in 1838.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Behind the Scenes - Suwannee River Watershed

We see some pretty amazing sights out in the field, and there is nothing quite like the Okefenokee Swamp at sunrise. While shooting last October, we were able to experience the amazing prairies of the eastern swamp at a time when the bird life and alligators were particularly active. Thanks to the drought, the water levels were several feet below average, forcing animal life to congregate more densely.

During this trip, we woke to rain, but soldiered out into the prairies of the swamp anyway and were treated to an amazing sunrise. Thanks to our guides Chip and Joy Campbell, we were able to sneak our boat right up to a family of elusive Sandhill Cranes as they were feeding by the water’s edge, quite a sight to see in the golden light of the early morning. From the stable platform of a motorized tour-boat, we saw dozens upon dozens of alligators corralled along the edges of the canals.

Several months later, the largest wildfire in recent Georgia history swept through the swamp. The Okefenokee images you’ll see on the Suwannee River Watershed episode document the swamp as it was before the burn. Today, the swamp is in a period of regeneration after the spring wildfires. Historically, the Okefenokee burned regularly, and over centuries, fire shaped the swamp into what it is today. I highly encourage a trip to the swamp to witness this amazing natural process.

For the episode, we also took a rare trip out of state. Though we are Georgia Outdoors, covering a topic like the Suwannee river watershed involved following the Suwannee to its terminus in the Gulf of Mexico. It was nice to cross state lines and experience some different scenery. Following the Suwannee via the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, we were reminded that nature knows no such artificial borders as state lines. At the mouth of the river, we found salt marsh habitat not unlike that found on our own coast. Another reminder of how intricately connected we all are…I hope that you enjoy watching this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!

Conserve-Action: Water Conservation

As you've undoubtedly heard by now there is a mandatory 10% reduction in water use order in effect. How are you going to handle it?

Here at GPB the plan to reduce water use is primarily through our heating and cooling temperatures throughout the building. Apparently we will save over 65,000 gallons a month by reducing our winter temperature to 68 degrees from 70 degrees and increasing our summer temperature from 72 degrees to 75 degrees. The water saved is that which is normally lost through condensation in the cooling towers.

This got me thinking. What are the most effective ways to reduce water inside your home?

According to my web research the average home uses more than 200 gallons of water per day.

The culprit: The clothes washer - 56,000 gallons/year
The solution: operate only on full loads. Turn off that "extra rinse."

The culprit: The shower head - 37,000 gallons/year
The solution: Take a 5 minute shower, or less. Save 20,000 gallons.

The culprit: The water faucet - 35,000 gallons/year
The solution: Turn off the water running while brushing teeth, shaving, or washing. Catch "warm-up" and "cool-down" water for plants. Install low flow restrictors/aerators.

The culprit: leakage - 30,000 gallons/year
The solution: Check for and repair leaks - will waste from 30 to 500 gallons of water per day!

The worst culprit of all: The good ol' toilet - 60,000 gallons/year
The solution: Offset older toilets with a plastic jug of pebbles and water. Don't flush bugs or trash. And finally, use this adage: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Conserve-Action: A Green Halloween

All the packaging around Halloween-- the candy, the costumes, the decorations-- got me thinking: what if I just make one little change each holiday? By the end of a calendar year I will have earned my place on Santa's good girl list and helped the earth in the process. So I googled the question and here are 6 easy ways to make an eco-difference this Halloween:

  • First of all--walk. Don't drive.
  • Buy an organic pumpkin.
  • Bake the pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack or simply toss into the yard for the birds.
  • Compost that pumpkin.
  • Pass on the plastic bags for trick-or-treating and use a pillowcase or other reusable bag.
  • Dance by the light of the moon. In other words, turn off that spooky outdoor lighting. What's more spooky that an (almost) full moon?

Georgia Out...and About

Fall temperatures are here!! So get out there and try these Suwanee River and fall season inspired adventures:

Okefenokee Nature Photography Workshop at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. A hand's on workshop at one of the nations renown refuges with local nature photographer John Reed.

Paddle the Suwannee River. Very little of the Suwannee River is actually in the state of it's birth-- Georgia. But there is enough of it for a good weekend paddle. Put in at Stephen C Foster State Park in Georgia, stop off at the Suwannee River Visitors Center in Fargo and take out at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park not too far over the state line in Florida. Trip: +/- 20 miles.

Georgia State Park Leaf Watch. Visit this site to find out which state parks are in the best fall color. Looks like this weekend the higher elevation parks are your best bets: Black Rock State Park and Fort Mountain State Park.

Premiere Episode: Suwanee River Watershed

The Suwannee River is one of the most famous rivers in the southeast. From its origins in the Okefenokee Swamp to the rivers end along the marshes of the Gulf of Mexico, this great river is one of the last remaining unspoiled waterways in the United States.

But, a river is does not stand alone. Through a network of a network of springs, creeks, and underground aquifers, the Suwannee River Watershed drains an area over 11 thousand square miles straddling Georgia and Florida.

Georgia Outdoors explores the natural diversity of-- and some recreational opportunities throughout-- the Suwannee River watershed.

Only on GPB Television

Friday, Nov 2, 9:30 PM
Saturday, Nov 3, 6 PM
Sunday, Nov 4, 12 Noon

Tuesday, Nov 6, 7:30 PM

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Georgia Out and About: Nature Photography

The weather is supposed to clear up this weekend. 69 degrees and partly cloudy. Just about perfect, in my opinion. So get out there and try these Nature Photography and Halloween inspired adventures:

Halloween Hikes at Chattahoochee Nature Center. Experience the mystery of guided night hikes as you walk through the lighted nature center trails and meet friendly forest creatures with a tale to tell.

Burts Pumpkin Patch. A great place to bring the family and the camera. And while you're in that neck of the woods pop over to Amicalola Falls State Park. Hike the falls and use the camera. But don't forget to look all around you for that special shot. The falls is not the only subject in the park. Catch a shot of the turning leaves, a damp mushroom or a sneaky salamander.

Hop aboard Thomas the Tank Engine. The classic storybook engine is set to roll into the Sam Shortline Excursion Train depot in Cordele this weekend. While you're there stick around for sunset at Lake Blackshear. One of the best I've ever seen.

6th Annual Georgia Outdoors Nature Photography Contest

It's official. We holding another Nature Photography Contest. We'll start accepting submissions this Friday, Oct 26. Submissions will be accepted until Dec 31, 2007. For more about the rules and regulations of the contest click here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On The Road: Dalton, Pine Mountain & Washington, GA

We at Georgia Outdoors travel a lot! That is to be expected with an outdoors show like ours. Our offices are located in Midtown-- but most of our subjects are not. This week our subjects are in Dalton, Pine Mountain and Washington, GA. That'll be about 600 miles clocked on the ol' GPB van.

Wouldn't you know it-- the first day it has rained in months and months we're in Dalton shooting a segment about Watersmart, a water conservation program of the The Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority. Most of the morning was a bust and the afternoon fell apart too. Luckily, at Georgia Outdoors our shoots don't fall apart that often. My policy for cancellations due to weather is a forecast of 85% or higher chance of rain. Lower than that and we head out anyway.

On Thursday, the focus of the shoot at Pine Mountain is geology and plant ecology of the mountain. Pine Mountain is an anomalously tall area in the Piedmont region with north and south exposures of rock that are probably a billion years old or older. An interesting place for plants. We'll find out what the experts can show us.

And finally, this Friday the Georgia Outdoors crew will find themselves in Washington, GA to take part in "Cemetery Day". Believe it or not, cemeteries count when you're adding up greenspace in an area. Cemeteries are also historic sites that require preservation efforts. This Friday, the town of Washington, GA will be rededicating the African American section of the School Street Cemetery. The area has been cleaned up, archeology surveys have helped identify unmarked graves, and walking tours of cemetery will be offered. We'll be there to catch it all.

Georgia Outdoors Friendly Neighborhood Intern Boy

Although now I am an Associate Producer, not too long ago (i.e. a matter of months) I was the Georgia Outdoors Friendly Neighborhood Intern Boy. (GOFNIB) One of the tasks set before me during those intern days was to close caption the current season of shows. I won’t go into too many details (because frankly, who cares?) but suffice it to say that close captioning is, as a general rule of thumb, about a nine on the monot-o-meter.

This held true for all of the close captioning I did as an intern, with the notable exception of the upcoming episode “Nature Photography Contest: Fifth Anniversary”.

As a nature lover and amateur photographer, the “photo contest” shows are some of my favorite in the Outdoors library. It’s great to hear the winners talking about their photographs: what they went through to get the shot, what equipment they used, and so on. The winners always have great advice for any up and coming shutterbugs, and on the top of the list is this one: take lots of pictures. Simple advice, I know, but it’s amazing how easy it can be to forget. It really is the best way to get better at photography. Don’t believe me? Check out Georgia Outdoors: Nature Photography Contest Fifth Anniversary and see for yourself.

And after you watch the show, go out and start taking some pictures for yourself. Why? Because soon we’ll start accepting entries for year six of our contest! Check our website in the coming days for more information. Don’t miss the deadline! If enjoying the outdoors isn’t motivation enough for you, watch this Friday’s episode and check out some of the prize packages our previous photographers have won. : )

Friday, October 19, 2007

Brown Spots in Your Lawn are a Badge of Honor

All outdoors watering of any kind is now banned. It is the strictest watering ban in Georgia history.

We've never watered our lawn at my house so I'm used to a brown lawn especially in the late summer and fall. But I have always felt a little sheepish about it. Now I won't. I'm going to wear that brown lawn like a badge of honor. A little attutide goes a long way. Although I've never watered my grass there is a small bed at the front of my house that I water with drip hoses and several trees I try to keep healthy through the hot summers. This is how I plan to get creative and conservative about outdoor watering at my house.

I plan to start using my gray water tonight. Gray water is collected from baths, rinsing foods, clothes washers and dishwashing. Even if it has dilute amounts of soap, gray water will not harm your plants. I will collect the water by placing a tupperware bucket under the faucet when I'm rinsing vegetables or even washing my hands. That water can be walked right out the front door and placed in the graden. My three-year-old will love it.

Speaking of three-year-olds-- mine loves her evening bath. Also starting tonight, I will recycle her bath water. No, I won't lug it outside with multiple trips with a bucket sloshing water on the stairs and rugs. I will recycle the water by siphoning it right outside with a hose through the window. And my huband is going to be mightly entertained in the process!

Composting. I've been putting this off for years. But I have a big back yard and no more excuses for not composting. This will have a three fold effect: save water, decrease solid waste and fertilize my garden. It's easy enough to keep a garbage bowl or on the counter and fill it with my family's organic waste such as coffee grounds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable scraps. You can even dispose of tea bags, cardboard rolls, and dryer and vacuum cleaner lint.

And lastly, I plan to buy a shower timer this weekend. You can save 1000 gallons of water a month if you limit your showers to under 5 minutes. My husband isn't going to love this part of my plan. He loves to fritter the time away in the shower. But, hey, he will get to play with a siphon hose and a new electronic gadget, a decreased water bill-- which in Atlanta can add up to alot!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Be a Citizen Scientist

Several years ago I was driving down I-16. For anyone whose ever driven that stretch from Macon to Savannah you know it can be a trial just staying awake. It is some of the blandest highway driving in the south.

Well, on this day, like so many others driving from location to location, I looked up and saw a dark shadow coasting above. First thought-- a vulture. Maybe a turkey vulture but probably a black vulture. But as I studied the silhouette I noticed the deeply forked tail that gives no doubt to its identification-- a swallow-tailed kite! What a joy to see!

Swallow-tailed Kites are listed as rare in Georgia and so I noted the exit # and added the bird to my mental life list. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has an ongoing survey about swallow-tailed kites and this information is used to study activity range size and migration routes among other things. So, I did my citizen scientist duty for the day and it felt good.

You can do your part too. There are many ways that your observations in the outdoors can be put to use by wildlife biologists. Check out Georgia Outdoors: Citizen Scientist for more ideas and links.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ignore the sand gnats, look at that sunrise.

Shooting days can be long and wearing. Early mornings, long days, and late nights. In the event of a marsh shoot, those circumstances are compounded by sand gnats, mosquitoes, fire ants, and anything else that can savage the legs of an unsuspecting television crew. But a beautiful sunset and brilliant sunrise will make you forget about all those things in a hurry.

We live in a beautiful place.

Georgia Outdoors photographer Shane braves the stinging insects to shoot some pretty pictures.

I took some stills on the shoot. This is a sunset over the west edge of Skidaway Island.

Sunset over the west side of Skidaway Island, with endangered Wood Storks.

Sunrise over the eastern edge of Skidaway Island.

Sales Tax Holiday for "Green" Products

What better way to celebrate the premiere of a new season of eco-friendly TV than to purchase some eco-friendly products?

This week, from Thursday Oct 4 through Sunday Oct 7, shoppers will pay no taxes on any products under $1500 that carry an Energy Star label. Eligible items include dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, refrigerators, florescent light bulbs, and televisions. Yes, there are "green" TVs out there.

So, this Friday at 9:30 PM tune in for the season premiere of Georgia Outdoors on a new Energy Star TV and be an eco-friendly armchair explorer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Whole New Season Georgia Outdoors!

It's hard to believe that we are about to premiere our 16th season of Georgia Outdoors. I've been with the show since it's 10th season and I've come to know Georgia intimately through the years. That breadth of general knowledge was the idea behind the concept of our season premiere episode, Georgia Outdoors: Beginners' Guide to Georgia (which is set to premiere on Friday, October 5th at 9:30 PM. Check it out.) Could we share our extensive general knowledge about Georgia in one show? Beginners' Guide starts with the idea that not everyone who lives in the state of Georgia grew up here and further, that even Georgia natives might appreciate a refresher course about what a diverse state Georgia really is.

I always think back to my first field shoot for Georgia Outdoors in Sept 1999. I had only been living in the state for 2 years after moving here from Florida and I didn't really know much about the state except for Atlanta (a fault of many well-meaning Atlantans). Well, here we were boating down the Flint River wth a DNR fisheries biologist who is studying the Flint's striper bass population and the cool water refuge the river affords them. An amazing first week on the job, I might add. I asked him, off the record, if he could work anywhere in the world where would that be? I expected answers like, "The Great Barrier Reef", or "The Amazon Delta" but what I got was, "The Georgia Coast". Huh?

But I've learned that he is absolutely right. The Georgia coast is an amazing place. A dozen+ barrier island protecting miles and miles of salt marsh. It's a wonderful place and I relish every chance I get to go there. In fact, I often suggest to the powers-that-be of GPB that a spin off of Georgia Outdoors-- Georgia Outdoors: The Coastal Edition-- would be a fabulous hit with our viewers and I'd be the first to volunteer to helm that series.

Georgia is so well placed geographically. It's central to so much that is ecologically diverse. From the Georgia coast, perhaps the most pristine coast in the US outside of Alaska, to the Flint-Chattahoochee watershed, named the 6th most biologically-diverse areas in the US by the Nature Conservancy, to the north Georgia Mountains, the foothills of a mountain range older than the Himalayas. So, if you live in Georgia then you are just hours from a diverse range of landscapes and outdoors experiences. Take advantage of it! Check out Georgia Outdoors: Beginners' Guide to Georgia and plot your course for adventure.

And by the way, that Flint River fisheries biologist got his wish. He now works at a fishery in Richmond Hill just miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Lucky guy.