This frog was found under a bridge in the Lake Russell area. It had very distinctive markings on it's belly. We had previously left a pitfall trap and caught several types of insects, so this area, next to the running water, is an ideal location for this specimen.
This flying insect was briefly seen in the Lake Russell area. It had six black legs and a prominent, yellow, appendage in the front, two black wings.
This was found in the Lake Russell area, off of the roadside, near a running stream. It's leaves are green, elliptical and rounded, in a singly pinnately compound form. There was a variable number of leaflets, 17, 19, etc. There were pairs of thorns where the leaves met the twigs.
Found in the Chattahoochee National Forest (Mark Trail Wilderness). Characteristics typical of this tree include short needles. These trees, in this region, often keep streams cool, since the thin needles, collectively, block sunlight and help regulate the water temperature, establishing ideal conditions for aquatic habitats. Hemlocks, especially here, are often the victims of the hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), who eat the sap of the tree. 5-10 years after infestation, they often kill the tree.
This salamander was found in Dodd's Creek, which runs along Raven Cliffs Trail in North Georgia. This is in the Blue Ridge region, and so there is a large amount of rocky exposures. The creek itself is filled with rocks and pebbles. I found this specimen peeking out from under a rock in very shallow water, roughly 2-4 cm deep. It had five toes on the hindlegs, which were twice the size of the forelegs, and four in front. The salamander was darkbrown with very distinctive coloration, with a white line running back, diagonally from it's eyes. The body itself was relatively short (4-5 cm) and stout.
This feather was found on the Raven Cliffs Trail in North Georgia. At first glance, it seemed most likely to be from either an owl or a hawk of some sort. From tip to bottom of shaft, it was 16-18 cm, 11-12 cm from the tip to the beginning of the abre shaft, with a shaft end of 4-5 cm. It was alternating white/brown stripes; The rainis was off center, with 2 cm and 1 cm at the sides. There was about 1 cm of fluff at the bottom of the feather, near the bare shaft. There were 7 brown stripes and 8 white strips. From scouring through scans of bird feathers from the possible species, I decided to pick Accipitridae, due to the high number of specimens sharing many feather-traits with the feather found, in terms of size, shape and coloration. A closer identification could be made, if the entire bird had been observed, since each species has it's own set of telling characteristics.
This Canada goose was seen, along with several others of different sizes and ages, in the Lake Russell Area. Conservation efforts have dramatically changed the migratory habits of these birds, causing them to collect, en masse, in new regions, farther north.
We encountered this specimen in the Tumbling Creek Woods, in a dense section of privet. It has a very distinctive hindleg, which is curved like a leaf. It had an interesting texture and great coloration.
We caught this chorus frog adjacent to the wetlands in the Tumbling Creek Woods, on the GSC campus.
This unknown dragonfly was surprisingly comfortable and allowed me to get pretty close, the closest I've ever been to none, in fact. There were quite a few of them flitting around. Sharing the same order (Ordonata), dragonflies are closely related to damselflies. In fact, the two are often confused for one another, due to the fact that they share habitats, life cycles, and general characteristics. However, there are several differences which, with careful observation, can help distinguish between these two suborders. Damselflies have eyes positioned far on the sides of their heads and have slender abdomens, compared to the thick abdomens of dragonflies. Dragonflies have a hindwing which is thicker at the base than the forewing, while the wings of the damselfly are relatively the same. Also, there are differences in the ways that they hold their wings. Dragonflies have theirs laid out horizontally while damselflies have wings that are angled above or in line with their abdomen. Their activity yields some distinct traits as well. Damselflies are less powerful than dragonflies and so tend to perch until prey flies by. Dragonflies actively fly in the open and swarm to catch prey. If you are lucky enough to observe a nymph, then it is easy to determine the correct identification. Damselfly nymphs are slim and small, while dragonfly nymphs are football-shaped and large with a point at the end of their abdomens. This particular specimen was chasing another dragonfly around, perhaps a possible mate. My proximity may have been possible because of this fact and the presence of the other dragonfly.
This is a red dogwood, observed next to the access road, near the wetlands, in the Tumbling Creek Woods on the GSC campus. On it, I noticed several spittle bugs and a caterpillar. It seemed to be a very popular specimen.
This blackberry was off of an access road in the Tumbling Creek Woods on the GSC campus. They thrive in disturbed areas, such as vacant lots, wastelands and ditches.
The sycamore is known for it's wide, large-toothed leaves and mottles bark. This particular specimen was observed off of the access road in the Tumbling Creek Woods on the GSC Campus in Oakwood.
We saw some deer mushroom (Pluteus cervinus), which is also know as fawn mushroom. It is an attractive mushroom for flies to lay eggs onto, with plenty of food source for the newly hatched maggots to work their way through. The substrate, a rotting trunk, is fairly common for decomposers.
Continuing off of the South-Trail, we stumbled across some tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera), loosely related to magnolias (Order: Magnoliales). It is a hardwood tree with generally straight trunks. Historically, they were a commonc source for lumber, especially for ship masts. They thrive in moist environments. They have incredibly distinctive leaves, which are shaped like tulip flowers.
We encountered some Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), which gives off a wonderful smell when crushed. The stems also have a very distinct lemony taste when chewed. The taste is much stronger in the younger leaves. The root bark can be used for tea, as well.
We saw a Red Maple (Acer rubrum) near the entrance to the South Trail. It has red twigs and stems, with whitish undersides and with red leaves in the fall. Like all other maples, the leaves are pairs on a single twig. It competes parallel with American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)and Water Oak (Quercus nigra). It is native to the area and spreads remarkably fast. It also has some fire-resistant properties and can survive in a number of environments. It thrives under canopy.
We passed some trees and saw that they were absolutely riddled with smooth, deliberate holes. These holes were drilled by Yellow-bellied sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus varius), who drill into trees and eat the sap and also feed on the insects that feed on the sap. They are very selective, in regards to the threes they frequent, which I believe has something to do with the characteristics of the bark, or perhaps the sap found within and the insects that feed there. These holes cause trees to become more vulnerable to fungal infections.
This Loblolly pine was notable for the incredibly large poison ivy vine creeping up the side of it. It was definitely a highlight for me.
This American Beech was found in a transitional forest, whose canopy was dominated by white oaks. They thrive in these cool environments, being shade-tolerant. It has very interesting bark, a remarkable amount of foliage (with sharp and widely-spaced teeth) and low-quality nuts. There wasn't much undergowth in the vicinity, due to the excessive shade.
This Eastern White Pine had very beautiful , deeply-furrowed bark. It was found on the GSC campus, near the entrance of the South Trail, the immediate area being cultivated landscape.
This bunch of Poison Ivy was found on the GSC campus, near the entrance to the South Trail. It covered the ground, mixed in with Virginia Creeper, for which it is often mistaken. Virginia Creeper often has five leaflets (though it can sometimes have three), while Poison Ivy has three leaves, which can become rather large, as seen in the picture.
This Virginia Creeper was found at the edge of the forest, near the South Trail entrance on the GSC campus in Oakwood. It was distributed rather thickly, next to an equally dense bunch of poison ivy. The proximity allowed for a perfect opportunity to distinguish the two plants which are often confused.