May 27, 2022

Defenders of Wildlife photography contibution

As an aspiring conservation photographer, it is an honor to be a contributor for the Defenders of Wildlife campaign to protect Georgia's Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge! Click the image to read the most recent article and support the cause! To follow my Okefenokee Photography Project blog, go to www.okefenokee.photography

Okefenokee Swamp
© Photographer: William Wise | Middle Fork Suwannee River; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 2015.

Posted on May 27, 2022 13:02 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 26, 2022

A Walk at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Georgia

A wildlife and birding photography walk at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Richmond County, Georgia on May 14, 2022.

Posted on May 26, 2022 18:37 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 15 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Magnolia Springs State Park, Georgia

A quick camping trip to Magnolia Springs State Park, Georgia on May 25-27, 2015...
American Alligator
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30125892 - American Alligator; Magnolia Springs State Park, Georgia. May 26, 2015.

Magnolia Springs State Park in Georgia turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It is the perfect location for a wildlife photographer to bring the family along. For the photographer: Spanish Moss waving in the tall pines, a lake lined with lily pads sporting beautiful large white blooms, alligators, wading birds. For the family: nice campsites, a splash pad for the kids, canoe rentals.

Magnolia Springs State Park was a short, 2-night, quickly planned birthday trip to another Georgia State Park; our 21st State Park visit. Because the actual ‘days in the field’ were so short, it really seemed to emphasize the processes of planning, packing, pitching. I believe camping can build life skills in kids if you let them be a part of the process. There is a fine balance of preparation and thought that goes into a multi-day outdoor excursion. Each and every meal requires previous thought, you have to be sure to have enough, and you must even be careful not to over pack.

Little Blue Heron
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30126133 - Little Blue Heron; Magnolia Springs State Park, Georgia. May 26, 2015.

We arrived on my birthday, which happened to be Memorial Day, and the park was packed with picnickers. However, as we entered the campground at the back half of the park, the grounds were now nearly vacated. It seemed everyone else had come for a 3-day weekend, Friday to Monday trip. But rather wishing to skip work than miss church, we took the Monday to Wednesday option and thus missed the crowds.

We drove into the four “walk-in” tent sites and set up our solitary campsite. We were the only walk-in campers and had the area to ourselves. It was somewhat back in the woods off RV Central and gave a feeling of secluded camping, but with the amenities of a spigot and fire ring. One of the best parts of our trip was breakfast. Lunch and dinner might be less of an affair than those at home, but not breakfast. Not to be thwarted by a briefly malfunctioning propane canister, the aroma of eggs and bacon were quickly filling our little woodland retreat.

American Alligator
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 30128019 - American Alligator; Magnolia Springs State Park, Georgia. May 25, 2015.

The park itself turned out to be a pleasant little park. It isn’t a mountainous woodland retreat like some in north Georgia, but also didn’t have that small city park feel. The area was mainly flat and open with tall, longleaf pines standing throughout. Spanish Moss waved in the trees projecting a Heartland of the South feel.

The lake wasn’t too large, but was rimmed with beautiful bright green lily pads with large white blooms that opened and closed corresponding to the heat of the day. Megan couldn’t wait to get into the canoe for a closer look and to hopefully have her daddy pick some of the beautiful blooms. We also had fun exploring the Civil War remnants of Fort Lawton while looking for the geocache coordinates encoded in the educational kiosks.

Magnolia Springs
© Photographer: William Wise | Magnolia Springs State Park, Georgia. May 25, 2015.

Posted on May 26, 2022 14:29 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 14 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2022

Animal Control Ratsnakes

An article I wrote for our local paper back on May 21, 2012...

Hooded Mergansers
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 19968776 - Eastern Ratsnake; Walton County, Georgia. May 21, 2012.

Working as an animal control officer provides ample one-on-one photo opportunities with various creatures. The wonderful part is that I don’t have to spend hours going to hunt for wildlife, but people call me straight to them.

Throughout the spring and summer, many of our animal control calls are of the slithering sort. Even if just a harmless garden-variety snake, many people have an over-the-top fear of snake… and right away are up-on-top of a table and calling 911!

The main slithering subject of our animal control calls is the Eastern Rat Snake, or Black Ratsnake. About 85% or more of the calls are regarding Pantherophis alleghaniensis, the scientific name for this common eastern colubrid. Because of their abundance and ability to climb, they are no strangers to the insides of garages, sheds and even people’s living rooms!

Ratsnakes are terrestrial and arboreal. They are quite skilled at scaling the sides of tree bark and even brick homes. It is an amazing sight to place a Ratsnake on the side of a tree and watch him climb effortlessly, each scute grabbing ahold of the bark.

According to another website, in addition to their close proximity to households, they occur in many types of habitats, including agricultural areas, most types of hardwood forests, isolated urban woodlots, and forested wetlands. These snakes are often found in barns and old buildings where their primary prey, small rodents, occur in abundance.

Posted on May 21, 2022 15:55 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2022

Cloudland Canyon: My Favorite North Georgia State Park

Timber Rattlesnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27950294 - Timber Rattlesnake; Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

Descending the boulder-lined switchbacks, we entered the cool shadows of the canyon. Mountain laurel and Rhododendron decorate the walls and slopes; their delicious aromas delighting the senses. As we reach the gorge floor, we turn upstream toward the sound of thundering water and the dampness of the fall’s mists. A beautiful work of creation; a true temple not made by human hands. To date, Cloudland Canyon is my most favorite Georgia State Park in North Georgia that I’ve visited.

Cloudland Canyon
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27951003 - Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

The park's website is no exaggeration when it states, "Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic parks in Georgia. Home to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife." ​Although we had only a few days, an entire week could easily be spent within the park. The rim trails atop the canyon’s edges provide incredible views off into the distance and deep within the gorge itself. Once down into the gorge, the hike along the river provides no less than six waterfall views.

And the reptiles! What an abundance! Other than the swamps of south Georgia, I had never encountered so many great finds in such a short period. Plenty of lizard species and wonderful encounter with a large Timber Rattlesnake sprawled across the trail. A kingsnake pointed out by other hikers was the “cherry on top”.

Black Kingsnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27950676 - Black Kingsnake; Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

Black Kingsnake
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 27951230 - Black Kingsnake; Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. May 20, 2013.

Posted on May 20, 2022 18:01 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 11 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 18, 2022

Bird Babies!

Chipping Sparrow
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78980153 - Chipping Sparrow; Clarke County, Georgia. May 16, 2018.

The rain has come and continues off and on throughout the day. I’m home early from work and have an opportunity for BYOB (Birding-Your-Own-Backyard). Babies are everywhere! No, I’m not talking about all the recent births in our church. But of all the bird babies in my backyard.

For a few days I’ve heard the light chirping of nestlings as diligent Chipping Sparrows parents make bug-runs back and forth. I track them down in the Sky Pencil bush at the corner of my house. Three babies crammed into a tiny nest!

Later, underneath the birdfeeder, I spot an ugly gray bird with black wings scraping through the mulch. Then out pops a female Towhee mom and “spoon-feeds” the little fledgling!

Not long after, the usual Downy Woodpecker is all of the sudden being trailed by a second Downy. Has it found a mate? But again, I see one feed the other I realize it is yet another fledgling in my backyard.

The bird parents are busy, busy, busy with all the birdie babies in my backyard.

Athens, Clark County, Georgia, May 16, 2018
Forecast: rain, high 77°. Rain overnight, low 66°
Sunrise 6:33 AM, sunset 8:29 PM

Posted on May 18, 2022 16:28 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 17, 2022

Snapper Photo Session...

Snapping Turtle
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 79310720 - Common Snapping Turtle; Walton County, Georgia. May 17, 2018.

Last evening on my drive home from work I pulled a 6” Common Snapping Turtle out of the roadway on Highway 186. Thankfully I got to him before a large truck did!

He spent the night in the back of my pickup truck and got a photo session the next day. Taking him to a shallow mud puddle out back, I laid on my belly and got some neat shots at that perspective.

He was just as feisty and snappy as the big ones, but didn’t seem as threatening being only the size of my hand. Still, I was sure to keep my fingers away!

Snapping Turtle
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 79310720 - Common Snapping Turtle; Walton County, Georgia. May 17, 2018.

​Walton County, Georgia, May 17, 2018

  • Showers and thunderstorms, high 79°; showers tonight, 63°
  • Sunrise 6:30 AM, sunset 8:29 PM
  • Day length 13 hours, 58 minutes
  • Moon: waxing crescent, 5% illumination

Posted on May 17, 2022 17:26 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 16, 2022

Swallows Galore!

Barn Swallow
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78817022 - Barn Swallow; Walton County, Georgia. May 15, 2018.

The swallows are back for the summer! All day long for the last few weeks I’ve seen them darting, hawking and fluttering over the surface of the water retention pond. In snatching up insects, they leave patterns of concentric ripples in the water’s surface.

I knew that many were Barn Swallows, for they were once again building a nest outside the back door of my office back door. But after seeing a few of the other swallows stop their fluttering for just a moment, I could see some Rough-winged Swallows mixed in the bunch.

​Walton County, Georgia May 15, 2018

  • Forecast: Cloudy, 50% chance of thunderstorms; high 77°
  • Sunrise 6:33 AM, Sunset 8:26 PM
  • Day length: 13 hours, 52 minutes
  • Moon: waning crescent, 3% illumination.
Posted on May 16, 2022 15:04 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 4 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 15, 2022

Family Fued

Angry Canada Goose
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78817028 - Canada Goose; Walton County, Georgia. May 15, 2018.

If you’ve been in a wetlands habitat or park in the spring, you’re probably familiar with the honking and hissing goose. I’ve been walking a pond or marsh for some wildlife photography and casually ignoring the geese while they ignore me. But unknown to me, their nest lay concealed in the reeds and I step too close. The goose gloves come off and its fighting time! If the female is on the nest, the ganger is usually standing guard nearby. Both parents will aggressively charge anyone that edges too close to their nest or young. Usually, the only injury sustained is to the weak-nerved human that trips and falls while running away.

This afternoon I observed a real goose fight. It was a bit different than the usual goose-to-human aggression: it was a family fued! Two Canada Goose families were resting near each other in the shade on the northern end of the pond. One family had small chicks, while the other had older, chicken-sized young. I didn't think I was that close, but as I approached, all of the the goslings in both families were startled and ran down into the pond, the two families of goslings mixing together.

Almost immediately, one of the parents of the smaller goslings began to chase and attack the larger goslings. This prompted a parent of the larger goslings to fly over and attack that adult! In a flash, other nearby adult geese flew over to join the fight. It all lasted about two minutes – splashing and honking and hissing - until both families sorted themselves out and swam into the pond in their respective family groups.

Angry Canada Goose
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 78817026 - Canada Goose; Walton County, Georgia. May 15, 2018.

Walton County, Georgia May 15, 2018

  • Cloudy, high 77°; 50% chance of afternoon storms
  • Sunrise 6:33 AM, sunset 8:26 PM
  • Day length: 13 hours, 55 minutes
  • New Moon
Posted on May 15, 2022 12:08 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Plain-Bellied Watersnake Glamour Photo Session

A photo session with a Plain-bellied Watersnake, Nerodia erythrogaster, taken out of a garage on an animal control call in Walton County, Georgia USA and released.

Posted on May 15, 2022 00:35 by williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment