Friday, May 30, 2008

Tonight and this Weekend on Georgia Outdoors

Georgia Outdoors: Georgia Beaches
Friday, May 30, 9:30pm

Saturday, May 31, 12 Noon & 6pm
Tuesday, June 3, 7:30pm

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

But Georgia's beaches are more than just great spots for soaking up the sun. Beaches also play an essential ecological role. They provide nesting habitat for shorebirds and sea turtles and serve as an important storm buffer along with the dune system.

On this episode of Georgia Outdoors, we'll take a closer look at where the water meets sand.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Get Out to a State Park This Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a great chance to visit one of Georgia's state parks (an hour drive or less for everybody in Georgia!) for a host of good times: picnics, cookouts, hiking, biking, and so on.

Many towns have smaller trails and nature areas that aren't associated with any kind of park system. These "little trails" are great opportunities to explore and learn more about your local area. (As usual, use caution, tell people where you are going, always take a map of the area, whistle, knife, etc.)

I myself am taking the long weekend to explore some trails in the south metro area on my mountain bike. I plan on limping into the office on Tuesday with a few bruises and at least one scrape to show for my efforts.

Leave a comment and talk about what you used the weekend for! We're always interested in what Georgia residents are up to in the great outdoors!


Today is World Turtle Day, May 23

Turtles are one of the most endearing and symbolic of America's
native wildlife. Turtles not only fascinate each passing generation of children, who find endless wonders under those hard shells, but they also continue to serve as a timeless role model in children's literature: the slow and steady turtle, whose patient progress always wins out against his fast but feckless competitor.

Yet the turtles' lofty status hasn't prevented humans from abusing the creature. In fact, all land, freshwater, and sea turtles are facing imminent threats to their survival, simply because of human activities. Turtles are the reptile most affected by the pet trade, not to mention the food and traditional medicine industries. Many turtle species also suffer from the effects of pollution as well as from the destructive effects of industrial fishing operations.

Despite these hardships, May is a busy month for turtles. Many have recently emerged from winter hibernation and are beginning their search for mates and nesting areas. For this reason, May 23 was designated World Turtle Day.

World Turtle Day was initiated in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue, a turtle and tortoise rescue organization founded in 1990. The group brings attention to turtle conservation issues and highlights ways each of us can help protect these gentle but jeopardized animals. In the spirit of World Turtle Day, check out these suggested actions you can take to honor these fascinating creatures.

Georgia Outdoors: Georgia's Sea Creatures featuring the Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Georgia Outdoors: Longleaf Pine Ecosystem featuring the Gopher Tortoise.

Tonight and this Weekend on Georgia Outdoors

Fifth Anniversary Nature Photography Contest
Friday, May 23, 9:30 PM
Saturday, May 24, 12 Noon
Saturday, May 24, 6 PM
Tuesday, May 27,7PM

Nature photography is a great way to experience the outdoors. It's a non-consumptive activity that leaves nothing behind, yet it provides nature lovers the chance to take something tangible away from their experience.

Georgia Outdoors has been encouraging people to get out and enjoy the art of nature photography for 5 years through our nature photography contest.

From the sandy shores of Jekyll Island to the lush gardens at Callaway, we've visited some very photogenic places with our winners. On this episode we take a look back at some of the amazing winners and amazing places we've seen in the process.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Manatees are Back

The first manatees of the season have been spotted along the coast of Georgia. This means it is time again to remind boaters to be on the lookout to avoid collisions with the endangered animals.

With an estimated population of only 3,000 animals in U.S. waters, manatees, also known as sea cows, are protected as an endangered species under federal and Georgia law. Approximately one quarter of all manatee mortalities in Georgia since 1980 were caused by watercraft collisions. Other dangers to the species include entanglement in fishing gear and harmful algal blooms known as red tides.

Although Florida manatees are present throughout the year in Florida, they are migratory in Georgia. Manatees begin their slow migration up the Georgia coast each spring when water temperatures rise into the upper 60s. They can be found in tidal rivers, estuaries and near-shore marine waters throughout Georgia and the Carolinas throughout the summer months. Manatees return to Florida in September and October as water temperatures cool.

Adult manatees are approximately 10 feet long and weigh up to 1 ton. Their skin varies from gray to brown, and their bodies are rounded with two pectoral flippers and a wide, flat tail. Subsisting on marsh grass and other aquatic plants, the animals are gentle and pose no threat to humans. It is illegal to hunt, play with or harass manatees.

Manatees have a slow reproductive rate. Females are not sexually mature until about 5 years old, and males mature at approximately 9. On average, an adult female gives birth to one calf every two to five years, and twins are rare. The gestation period is about a year.

Mothers nurse their young for one to two years, so a calf may remain dependent on its mother during that time. Manatee calves are approximately 4 feet long at birth and about 60 pounds.

The number of manatees along Georgia’s coastline each year is unknown because the turbid, murky waters near the coast make surveys difficult. Georgia residents can help biologists learn more about the movements and habitat use of manatees by reporting any sightings and taking photographs.

Collisions between boaters and manatees are more likely to occur in shallow waters, particularly around docks and at the edge of marshes where manatees feed. Following boater safety regulations in these areas can reduce the risk of a collision. Boaters should also watch for
manatee backs, tails, snouts and “footprints” - a series of round swirls on the surface caused by a swimming manatee’s tail.

If a boat accidentally collides with a manatee, the DNR Wildlife Resources Division asks that the boater stand-by and immediately contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16 or DNR at (800) 2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363). Doing so provides biologists the best chance to help the animal and gather valuable scientific data. According to Wildlife Resources, boaters will not be charged if they were operating their boat responsibly and the collision was an accident.

If you see or photograph a healthy, injured or dead manatee, please contact DNR at (800) 2-SAVE-ME or (912) 269-7587. Please note the date, time, location and number of manatees seen, as well as the coordinates, if possible. Photographs of scars on their backs and tails are especially useful because they can often be used to identify previously known manatees.

Here are some other ways Georgia residents can help protect manatees:

  • Look around for manatees before cranking your boat’s motor.
  • Use caution when navigating in shallow water and along the edge of a marsh. Manatees cannot dive away from boats in these areas.
  • Please heed “slow speed,” “no wake” and manatee warning signs, especially around docks.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare, making it easier to spot manatees below the surface.
  • Watch for large swirls in the water called footprints that may be caused by manatees diving away from the boat.
  • Dock owners should never feed manatees or give them fresh water. This could teach the animals to approach docks, putting them at greater risk of a boat strike.
  • Never pursue, harass or play with manatees. It is bad for the manatees and is illegal.

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Coastal Sports and Wildlife

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wild Fact: Egg Shells for Birds

After laying eggs in the spring, female songbirds often lack calcium. You can help them replenish this important nutrient by providing your leftover eggshells. Simply rinse the eggshells in plain water, dry them, and then bake on a cookie sheet at 250F for about 30 minutes (or until the edges just start to turn brown). After cooling, crush the eggshells into small pieces. These little tidbits of calcium are then ready to be placed in a platform bird feeder, along a deck railing, or scattered on the ground. Many songbird species, including insect eaters that normally don’t visit feeders, may be drawn to your yard by eggshell offerings.

WILD Fact is a new regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Birding

Saturday, May 17, 2008

National Safe Boating Week

Using your boat this week? Grab a life jacket and “Wear It!” Accidents happen too fast on the water to reach for stowed life jackets. Most boating fatalities are drownings – and 90 percent of those who drown while boating are not wearing a life jacket. Now new styles are available – comfortable, lightweight, and perfect for any boating activity or sport.

May 17-23 is National Safe Boating Week. Celebrate by wearing your life jacket at all times while boating. Ask your friends and family to do the same?


Looking for a life jacket? Today’s jackets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and
materials. No matter which life jacket you choose, be sure it’s right for YOU, your planned
activities, and the water conditions you expect to encounter.

Try It On

  • Check the manufacturer’s ratings for your size and weight.
  • Make sure the jacket is properly zipped or buckled.
  • Raise your arms straight up over your head while wearing your life jacket and ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings, gently pulling up.
  • If there is excess room above the openings and the jacket rides up over your chin or face, it does NOT fit properly. A snug fit in these areas signals a properly fitting life jacket.
Fit Facts
  • It is extremely important that you choose a properly fitting life jacket.
  • Jackets that are too big will cause the flotation device to push up around your face, which could be dangerous.
  • Jackets that are too small will not be able to keep your body afloat.
Important Reminders
  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
  • Double check that your jacket is appropriate for your favorite boating activities.
  • Take the time to ensure a proper fit.
  • Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets.

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Boating

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tonight and this Weekend on Georgia Outdoors

Friday, May 16, 9 PM
Saturday, May 17, 12 Noon

Saturday, May 17, 6 PM

Tuesday, May 19, 7:30 PM

Though Georgia has no large natural lakes, we have several major reservoirs which offer a variety of opportunities to get out and enjoy yourself on the water. This episode highlights some fun things to do on and around our great lakes.

Starting with a sailing regatta on Georgia's most visited lake, Lake Sydney Lanier, we'll feature some well-known and not-so-well-known lake activities – including wind-surfing on Clark's Hill Lake, birdwatching at Lake Walter F. George, and bass fishing on Lake Seminole. We'll also explore the sunken history of some of our lakes and visit a lake clean-up at Allatoona Lake that draws 5,000 volunteers every year!

Watch Georgia Public Broadcasting on these nine stations across Georgia: Atlanta - Channel 8; Albany - WABW/14, Augusta - WCES/20, Chatsworth - WCLP/18, Columbus - WJSP/28, Dawson - WACS/25, Macon - WMUM/29, Savannah - WVAN/9, Waycross - WXGA/8.

Today is Endangered Species Day, May 16

Celebrate endangered species success stories, including the American bald eagle, peregrine falcon, gray wolf, grizzly bear, humpback whale and many others. This will be the third consecutive year for this national celebration of America's commitment to protecting and recovering our nation's endangered species. Events are held across the country to highlight endangered species stores.Loggerhead sea turtle

This year, Endangered Species Day will raise awareness about the threats to endangered species – including global warming - and the success stories in species recovery. It will provide an opportunity for schools, libraries, museums, zoos, botanical gardens, agencies, businesses, community organizations and conservation organizations to educate the public about the importance of protecting endangered species. It is also an opportunity to highlight the everyday actions that individuals and groups can take to help protect our nation's wildlife, fish and plants. Because 2008 has been designated as The Year of the Frog by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a special focus will be on the threats faced by declining amphibian populations.

With more than 1,800 species now listed as threatened and endangered, and thousands more threatened with extinction unless they receive Endangered Species Act protections, all public education efforts are extremely valuable. Help celebrate Endangered Species Day by learning about endangered species in your area, providing habitat for wildlife in your backyard, joining Frogwatch, visiting your local zoo, aquarium or endangered species habitat.

To find Endgangered Species Day Activities in your area visit the Endangered Species Coalition website.

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Georgia's Rare, Threatened and Endganged Species

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chattahoochee River Open for Harvest

Good news: metro area anglers looking to hook and harvest trout soon can worry less about the gas prices and more about their luck. May 14 marks the end of harvest restrictions on Georgia’s delayed harvest trout streams, and that means the Fulton County section of the Chattahoochee River (between Sope Creek and the Hwy. 41 bridge) will be open for harvest beginning May 15. Just a short drive for most metro area residents, the Chattahoochee is home to an abundance of rainbow and brown trout.

The section of the Hooch between Sope Creek and the Hwy. 41 bridge has been protected by delayed harvest regulations since Nov. 1, 2007, which requires anglers to release, rather than harvest, trout caught in this section. This catch-and-release regulation has created a trout-filled stream, so the chances of hooking a beautiful brown or rainbow trout are high.

Anglers can start harvesting trout beginning May 15 through Oct. 31, utilizing natural bait (worms, crickets, salmon eggs, power bait, corn) and lures with multiple hooks. In addition to the opening of the delayed harvest section, the section of the river from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek remains open to year-round trout fishing. There are great family-friendly spots open to the public in this section thanks to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and various city and county governments.

In fact, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) stocks this section of the river between Buford Dam and the Chattahoochee River Park off of Azalea Drive with approximately 159,000 catchable (nine-inch) rainbow trout. Plus, this section also supports wild brown trout, which can test even the most experienced angler.

The river downstream of Morgan Falls Dam has been stocked with approximately 50,000 rainbow and brown trout since November 1, 2007. More than 5 percent of these fish are 12 in. or longer, so the potential of catching a big trout is a real possibility.

Remember, a fishing license and trout license are required to fish the Chattahoochee River from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek. Licenses can be purchased online at and at many sporting goods and bait and tackle businesses.

For more information on trout fishing or to download a free Georgia trout stream map and trout fishing tips, visit or call (770) 918-6418 for additional trout fishing information. In addition, a map of the Chattahoochee River can be downloaded from the National Park Service website.

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Trout Grand Slam

First Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nest Found

Loggerhead turtles have returned to Georgia’s beaches. Members of the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative found the state’s first loggerhead nest of 2008 last week on Blackbeard Island, signaling the start of nesting season for the federally threatened species.

2008 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Sea Turtle Cooperative, a milestone for sea turtle conservation. Coordinated by the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the group of volunteers, researchers and biologists from various agencies
monitor turtle nesting on Georgia beaches.

Loggerhead nesting numbers vary widely from year to year. The 2007 total of 689 loggerhead nests, down from 1,400 in 2006, was considered a below-average nesting year. The 2006 nest totals were the third highest since comprehensive surveys began in 1989, with 1,419 nests found in 1999 and 1,504 nests in 2003. The annual average in Georgia since 1989 has been roughly 1,045 nests.

Adult female loggerheads come ashore to dig nests and lay eggs from May through September. Their vulnerable hatchlings scramble to the sea approximately 60 days later, swimming for the open ocean, where fewer predators lurk.

Loggerheads do not nest every year. Generally they return to lay eggs - about 120 per nest - every second or third year.

Listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) is Georgia’s primary nesting sea turtle. Adults can grow to more than 300 pounds.

Threats to the survival of loggerheads include commercial fisheries, development of barrier islands, and nest depredation by coyotes, raccoons and feral hogs. Wildlife Resources and conservation groups have worked to address the fishery threat by enforcing regulations that
require shrimpers to use turtle excluder devices - grids that fit across the opening of shrimp trawls to keep turtles from entering the nets.

Sales of Georgia’s nongame wildlife vehicle license plates - the bald eagle/U.S. flag and the hummingbird - support conservation projects such as sea turtle restoration. Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section does not receive state funds, depending instead on federal
grants, donations and fundraisers such as nongame tag sales and the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff.

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Seas Turtles or Georgia Outdoors: Georgia's Sea Creatures

Emmy Nominations for Georgia Outdoors!

Two Georgia Outdoors episodes were singled out for Emmy Nominations is past Friday, May 9. The winners will be announced at a banquet on June 21. But you can watch the nominated shows right now!

Georgia Outdoors:Suwannee Watershed for Television Programing Excellence Category: 31, Informational/Instructional

Georgia Outdoors: Citizen Science for Television News and Program Specialty Excellence Category: 19DE, Health/Science Program

Wild Fact: Bream

The group of freshwater fish called “bream” includes species such as bluegill, redbreast sunfish, and redear sunfish (also called shellcracker). Compared to other sportfish, bream are fairly easy to catch. All you need is a basic rod and reel with monofilament line, a bobber to hold the bait off the bottom and to signal bites, and a small hook. Live worms and crickets make good bait and are available at most convenience stores near lakes. Spring is a great time for bream fishing since they’re spawning. Rather than seeing bait as food, “bedding" fish often think your lure is a threat to their nest and aggressively strike it.

Visit this website to learn more about identifying fish.

WILD Fact is a new regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

National Bike-to-Work Week

May is Bike Month.

May 12-16 is Bike-to-Work Week.

May 16 is Bike-to-Work Day.

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) celebrates National Bike Month each year in May. It's a chance for people to consciously promote cycling and the many ways bicycling is such a fun and useful way to get around.

Need some ideas? Here are 50 ways to celebrate Bike Month.

Also, download this pamphlet on the How's, Why's and Simple Pleasures of the Two-Wheeled Commute.

For information about events in your area the League of American Bicyclists .

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Biking.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Record the Ribbit this Sat, May 3

FrogWatch 2008: Record the Ribbit this Saturday, May 3rd

Leap into spring with your family and friends to celebrate FrogWatch 2008: Record the Ribbit. Participate in this one-day event to raise awareness about frogs and toads. Record the Ribbit is easy, free, and perfect for people of all ages.

Prepare by listening to calls and viewing photos of local species in your area, head outside on a nature walk, and then come back to share your findings online. Make sure to take a notepad with you to jot down your observations.

Record the Ribbit is a special event of Nature QuestSM FrogWatch USA™, National Wildlife Federation’s popular citizen-science amphibian monitoring program.

Watch Georgia Outdoors: Reptiles and Amphibians to learn more about frogs.

Tonight and This Weekend on Georgia Outdoors

Georgia Outdoors: Georgia's Marshes

Friday, May 2, 9:30pm
Saturday, May 3, 12 Noon
Saturday, May 3, 6pm
Tuesday, May 6, 7:30pm

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 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.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wild Fact: Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

After wintering as far south as Ecuador, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are migrating to their breeding grounds in the Appalachians and northwestward into Canada. Slightly larger than their Cardinal cousins, these songbirds are strikingly beautiful. Males are jet black except for a raspberry triangle in the middle of their bright white chests. Females are much duller, streaked with brown but sporting white eyebrow lines. Both sexes have ivory cone-shaped bills, indicating a diet that includes seeds. You can help Rose-breasted Grosbeaks refuel during their journey north by offering sunflower or safflower seeds, preferably in platform feeders or tube feeders with trays ~ that way these large songbirds can perch comfortably while eating.

Photos (taken by Linda May, GA DNR-WRD) show Rose-breasted Grosbeaks eating safflower seeds from a Droll Yankee tube feeder with a tray. Cardinals and their relatives seem to particularly like safflower. An added benefit to offering safflower is that squirrels are not as attracted to this type of seed as they are other birdseeds.

WILD Facts is a new regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.