Trip Report - Atlanta Georgia Area - May 2008


Here are some highlights from a recent trip to the Atlanta Georgia area.  I was able to make a few quick stops over two days at a couple of state parks to do a little wildlife viewing and pick up one target species/specialty as well.  I visited Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park,  Chatahoochee River NWR and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge over a two day period.  Unfortunately, as has been the case many times this year, the weather was not very cooperative and much of the time I was dodging rain showers, thunderstorms and dark, cloudy conditions most of the trip.  I spent the first afternoon of the trip south of Atlanta, near Macon Georgia at a place called Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge.  The goal on this day however was very focused as this was one of the few places in the Southeast where you can find the Red-cockaded Woodpecker.  This Woodpecker is unusual in that it lives in family groups or "clans" as they are called and only in old-growth, mature pine forests and specifically in trees with abundant sap production.  I was quite fortunate, given the horrible weather conditions, to find anything at all.  I went to an area that I had read about and waited, the rain was consistent but not bad (yet) with lots of thunder in the distance.  It took about 10-15 minutes before I heard the first call, and then another and another as a family of about 5 or 6 Red-cockeaded Woodpeckers came in, HIGH in the trees.  It was quite difficult to get a good picture with the distance and the fact that the lighting was so poor, back-lighting being the major problem as the heavy cloud cover worked as a giant diffusing mechanism on the sunlight.  I was not denied however, here are the three best shots I was able to get of this rare and unfortunately diminishing species of woodpecker.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Despite the lousy weather there were several other species of note out wandering around including Pine Warblers, Prairie Warbler and Yellow-throated Warbler, all photographed and shown below:

Pine Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Prairie Warbler

The next day I had the morning hours to look around before grabbing my flight back to San Diego.  I decided to check out two areas not too far from downtown Atlanta to maximize my time and still allow me to get to the airport to make my flight.  The first stop was Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.  I arrived there early in the morning to find that the park was closed until 8:00 AM so I drove around the area for a while making a few stops along side roads.  The weather started out beautiful with the sun shining brightly but quickly large clouds starting blowing in making the good light for photography sporadic at best.  I went all the way up the mountain and back down on the paved road but the wind also had picked up and I ended up in less than optimum conditions with a howling wind and fog.  Here are highlights from the Kennesaw area...

Female American Redstart

Blue Jay

Blue-headed Vireo

Brown Thrasher

Eastern Towhee

Red-eyed Vireo (wonder why they call them that...:o)

Red-eyed Vireo

Female Indigo Bunting

I decided to head down to the Chatahoochee River as the last stop of the trip.  There is an access area near Buckhead and a few miles of trails there.  Even though the area is heavily traveled with walkers, bike riders and joggers there was still plenty of wildlife to keep things interesting for the few hours I had left.  Here are highlights from that area.

Butterfly from Chatahoochee River area

Two young Canada Geese

Carolina Chickadee

Chipping Sparrow

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

There was a side "nature trail" as it was marked which was a boardwalk that went over a boggy area.  I was able to find a few skinks getting some sun in the late morning.

Five-lined Skink in breeding colors

Another picture of Five-lined Skink in breeding colors

This is what they normally look like, in particular the younger ones.

This is an old Five-lined Skink, still displaying the orange coloration of the spring breeding coloration

Gray-headed Catbird

Northern Cardinal

Northern Mockingbird

Pileated Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse

That was about it for the trip.  Had a successful business trip and a few side trips to get some photos thrown in...  All in all not too bad... If only the weather had been decent, who knows what sort of luck I would have had????

Until next time...  Thanks for looking!  - Brad


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