Tag Archives: South Georgia Natural History

Dissected Beardtongue, Ben Hill County

Also known as Cutleaf Beardtongue, Penstemon dissectus is a rare member of the beardtongue family and the only species in the region with deeply dissected leaves. It’s endemic to the outcrops and surrounding woodlands of the Altamaha Grit habitat; this population was discovered near Reuben’s Lake. There are only about 30 known populations, all in Georgia.

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Wilson’s Snipe, Ben Hill County

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Folklore suggests that a snipe hunt is a fool’s errand. But snipe are real birds, if rarely encountered.  The term sniper comes from the difficulty hunters of this bird face. It’s well-camouflaged and flies in such an irregular pattern that a clean shot is nearly impossible. I was very lucky to see this Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) on Thanksgiving morning.

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And in a flash, he was gone.

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Hardwood Swamp, Ben Hill County

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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Ben Hill County

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Few creatures engender more fear and misunderstanding than the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamenteus).  I personally think they’re beautiful, but they should always be respected at a distance. I don’t encourage anyone to get as close as I did when making this photograph. But let them live. They’re one of our best allies in regards to reducing rodent populations and they’re an important indicator of the health of our broader ecosystem. The Georgia-based Orianne Society, which is focused primarily on the preservation of the Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi), also works to preserve this species.

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Lichens & Mosses, Irwin County

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The sandy ridges of the Alapaha River bottomlands are abundant with these lichens and mosses. On Crystal Lake Road, near the river, they blanket the right of way for nearly a mile.

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I don’t know enough about these species to say much about their biology, but they’re a beautiful sight and seem almost otherworldly. The dominant blueish-green variety in most of these photos is known as Dixie Reindeer Lichen, or reindeer moss locally, (Cladonia subtenius). It’s widespread in protected areas throughout South Georgia.

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The species seen below is known as British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella), for the bright red “blooms”.

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Gopher Tortoise, Ben Hill County

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Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that this species is threatened because I see them quite often in my rambles on dirt roads throughout South Georgia, but it faces numerous challenges. Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are emblematic of the upland pine habitat that once blanketed the Southeast but are now greatly reduced due to changes in land usage and myriad environmental factors. The Gopher Tortoise Council is a wonderful place to find information of these beloved symbols of our Southern forests.

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Ogeechee River at Oliver

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Oliver Landing is a great place to access the Ogeechee.

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