April was a busy month with much nesting activity all over the neighborhood. Three of the four bird houses on the Nature Trail have occupants. Two neighbors on Darlington Commons had nests in shrubbery right outside their front door, and we counted at least four nests in our yard, including a Brown Thrasher pair who nested in the Carolina Jessamine vine on the side of the house.
Most trees have leafed out now. American Basswood, Pignut Hickory, Georgia Hackberry and Southern Sugar Maple along with eight other species were identified on the Nature Trail and will be marked. Hummers are here for sure, and flowering plants like Crossvine and Native Honeysuckle are in bloom for them.
And it looks like the Wild Turkey hen has moved on. We hope she’s safe and well.
Plants are waking up and everybody’s nesting. The dawn chorus is especially loud and full of courtship and the claiming of territory. Frogs are beginning to call at night. Native bees are busy and there’s plenty in bloom to provide nectar and pollen. On warmer days the honey bees in the hive on the Nature Trail are active. No hummingbirds have been seen here yet, although there are reports of sightings close by, and butterflies are still scarce. This will change soon.
October’s journal is in two parts: photos from the neighborhood, followed by photos of wildlife from Jekyll just after hurricane Matthew.
We’ve been seeing Monarchs in our yard all month. One stayed and visited flowers for most of one afternoon. This Monarch was so pristine we speculated that perhaps it had just morphed out. There were many Monarchs on Jekyll as well, which was most encouraging.
Monarch butterfly on Georgia Aster
We arrived on Jekyll on October 12, two days after the island was re-opened and five days after hurricane Matthew hit. While the island sustained a fair amount of damage, things were in better shape than we had feared. And we were encouraged that wildlife seemed to have made it through. Also, very glad to see that the magnificent Live Oak in Brunswick known as Lover’s Oak, which is said to be over 900 years old, made it through as well.
Deer on the north end of Jekyll
Sulfur and Gulf Fritillary
adult Bald Eagle
juvenile Bald eagle
Gulf Fritillaries on Bottlebrush
Lover’s Oak – Brunswick, GA 
Green Darner dragonfly
Florida Softshell Turtle on Horton Pond
Carolina Chickadee with signs of leucism 
Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills near the toll booth
Fall! And except for the lack of rain, the weather has been glorious. Walk through the neighborhood and treat your visual senses to the spectacular color of our trees.
But once those leaves are on the ground, you’ll experience another sensory overload: the constant din of leaf blowers. Six days a week, at all times of the day, there is the racket of a leaf blower to be heard somewhere in the neighborhood. Just listen to this example (you might want to turn down the volume).
Here’s our pitch to reduce the auditory assault of these machines and use a rake instead. It’s great exercise and also helps out wildlife, trees and plants. Plus, nothing is more fun than playing in a pile of beautiful fall leaves!
Consider these points:
While a layer of leaves is not good for lawns, other plants and trees will thrive with undisturbed leaf litter. If the leaves are removed, so are the nutrients that feed the plant. Lawns also benefit from a light layer of chopped leaves (the mulch setting on most lawn mowers).
Many beneficial insects make their home in leaf litter 
Leaf blowers don’t just blow away leaves, but they blow away topsoil as well. They also fill the air with contaminates including toxic chemicals (used by some lawn services), allergens, molds and other things better left undisturbed. 
Leaf blowers were not invented to remove leaves, but as crop dusters. In other words, they are a solution that went searching for a problem. 
Leaf blowers interfere with animals’ ability to communicate with each other. This makes it difficult to find mates, hunt and avoid predators. 
Now, without a leaf blower around, you can hear this:
August has passed, and birds are beginning to head south. Groups of migrating American Robins are beginning to appear on lawns. There was another report of the groundhog from the north end of the neighborhood and twice we’ve caught a glimpse of a groundhog-size critter disappearing into the grass on the Nature Trail. Also, we were lucky a few days ago to have a rare daylight visit from one of our resident possums.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Champion Tulip Poplar – Liriodendron tulipifera
juvenile Red-tailed Hawk
A newsletter from the South Fork Conservancy reports that Atlanta Audubon has documented over 75 species of birds on the South Fork of Peachtree Creek! It’s just off Lindbergh, very close to us, and you can go on a guided bird tour of the trail this Saturday, September 3. Atlanta Audubon has more information on their Field Trips page. You’ll need to scroll down to the calendar and click on the “The Confluence” under September 3rd. If you want to join them, they ask that you RSVP.
It’s May and, as always in this month, there’s a lot going on. Pollinators are busy and some species of birds are raising a second brood. We’ve seen a few Hummingbirds, but they are still infrequent visitors to our blooms.
The neighbor across the street reports that the resident box turtle was seen hiking up their driveway. And one of the most interesting reports came from a neighbor on West Paces Ferry who sent us a photo taken in her yard of a Groundhog (aka Woodchuck or Whistlepig). She contacted Georgia DNR who confirmed it as a Groundhog saying that while it’s unusual for them to be this far south in Georgia, it’s not unheard of.
Native Bee on Agastache
Juvenile American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Native Bee on Beardtongue (Penstemon)
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Butterfly Weed (Milkweed)
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Eastern BLuebird – Sialia sialis
Eastern Gray Squirrel crossing the street
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus
Native Bee on Spotted Cranesbill (Native Geranium)
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinali
Summer Tanager – Piranga rubra Providence Canyon State Park
There’s been much nesting activity in April, as there should be. Three of the four houses on the Peachtree Park Nature Trail have occupants and there is a Red-bellied Woodpecker pair nesting in a snag on the trail: (see the recent post Nesters on the Nature Trail). The bluebird house in the Darlington Road triangle is occupied, and Bluebirds are competing with Brown-headed Nuthatches for a box three houses down. Birds are nesting in shrubbery in multiple locations in our yard and Carolina Wrens in the oven vent. This is occurring all over the neighborhood, and most likely in your yard.
Also, Goldfinches descended in mass in the trees inback of us for several days and emptied the thistle feeders every day for a few days. The morning chorus at sunrise continues to be quite loud; some singers go on almost all day, like the Brown Thrasher below. It’s a great time of year.