August: Brent Hess and Paul Jones, fish biologists with GA DNR, along with Riley Hess, 12 year old son of Brent, met us at the boat ramp at McIntosh on a cold, rainy August morning to demonstrate the “Electric-fishing” rig used to monitor the fish populations in the Chattahoochee River. Carefully controlled current is passed from two electrodes extended into the water via long poles back to the boat which serves as the ground. Fish caught in the span from the poles to the boat are briefly “stunned”, allowing crew members to scoop them up in nets into water tanks aboard the boat. The fish can then be weighed, measured and inspected for overall condition. This procedure is carried out at regular intervals at selected sites throughout the year. Most fish are then safely returned to the site where they were caught. Some are selected for assessment of contaminants to prepare the fish consumption guidelines for Georgia fishermen. Some may be used for breeding stock for fisheries.
After describing the procedures and answering questions, Brent and Paul and Riley took the boat into the water, as the rest of us watched from shore. In a very short time, they accumulated an assortment of creatures which they brought back to the shore for demonstration. We saw several small spotted bass, a common carp, a grass carp, a channel catfish, a painted turtle, and a long-nosed gar. All made it safely back into the river.
There will be no walk and talk in September to provide time for assisting with the Rivers Alive program on Sept. 14, 9 to 12, and for the fall festival, September 28-29. (Sorry this went out too late to advertise for Rivers Alive, which was quite successful this year,)
July: Dr.Tim Chowns, Geologist with the Department of Geosciences at the University of West Georgia, spoke to about 20 hikers at Moore’s Bridge Park on the evolution of rivers in general, and about the Chattahoochee in particular. After his talk, he led a hike to the river to allow hikers to consider what we had learned and to look for the clues that would help us fit our local patch of earth into the bigger picture.
June: Bird Watching at Moore’s Bridge Park Led by Dr. Barbara Ballentine, UWG and Dr. Jeremy Hyman, Western Carolina, a small group of bird watchers sauntered leisurely down to the Chattahoochee River. Immediately as we began our trek, we spotted a territorial conflict over a nesting hole in the big dead tree (or euphemistically, “course woody debris”) in the field by the old house. Still in the middle of nesting season, a great crested flycatcher and a red-bellied woodpecker each sought the cavity near the top of the tree. We watched black vultures soaring above us and we watched as a turkey vulture spread his wings on the old tree after the discussion between the woodpecker and the flycatcher was settled.
Because the trees are fully leafed out now, it is difficult to see many of the birds. However, when we would hear a particular call, Dr. Hymen would usually be able to play the bird’s song through his speaker and the bird would come close enough for us to see. In this way, we heard and spotted the yellow-breasted chat, the Indigo bunting, the white eyed vireo, and the blue grosbeak. Other birds we heard or saw included the northern parula warbler, the yellow bill cuckoo, the eastern wood peewee, the tufted titmouse, eastern phoebe and lots of cardinals. We were able to view up close the nest of a blue grosbeak.
May: The May Walk and Talk was led by Lynn Lewis-Weis of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Lynn shared facts about the wild turkey and the association, which she represents. She displayed the tail feathers of a gobbler as shown in the picture with Burns Stober.
After the talk, the group walked to the river, studying habitat along the way. At one point, Lynn played turkey calls as an app on her cell phone, and she presented a hand carved wood turkey caller to the one hunter in our group.
April: Kim Cowart, horsemanship judge with the North American Trail Riders Conference (NATRC), presented the April 20 Walk and Talk sponsored by Friends of McIntosh Reserve at McIntosh Reserve Park. NARTC promotes horsemanship and horse care as they apply to the sport of distance riding by offering a variety of challenging and educational experiences designed to strengthen both horse and rider. He also discussed safety considerations to be followed by hikers, bikers, and horses on multi-use trails. Right of way protocol dictates that bikers yield to hikers, and both yield to horses. The picture shows Kim demonstrating with Cathe McKinnon and her horse Jackson how he might judge horsemanship at check- in prior to a competitive trail ride.
March: The spring wildflower Walk and Talk, led by Wendell and Eleanor Hoomes, was well attended, and included many first time participants. Though the timing this year was a bit early, many old favorite plants were sighted: pippsisewa, mayapple, ginger, Carolina Silverbell, rue anemone, and the pink lady slipper. A few Atamasca lilies graced the day, although the hillside by the river was not yet resplendent with blossoms. We are fortunate that Sandra Fry took a video of the hike and has placed it on the web so we might have a look. It is available on both vimeo and shutterfly in case one works for some but not the other. It is the same video, so if you are successful with the first try, no need to try the second. https://vimeo.com/63784554or http://traveldump.shutterfly.com/25
February: The Friends of McIntosh Reserve is sponsoring several Walk and Talks this year at it’s sister park on the Chattahoochee River, Moore’s Bridge Park, near Whitesburg. This historic park property was acquired by the county following the efforts of the Trust for Public Lands several years ago. Many historical events have occurred in this park. It is the only site of a civil war battle in the county associated with the Battle of Atlanta.
Trudy Crunkelton, Carroll County Parks Director, lead the Walk and Talk on February 16 from the Black Dirt Road entrance. About 30 people attended on a frosty morning and were lead to a recently discovered Young Family Cemetery with 18 graves dating from the 1850’s. Sam Pyles and John Wright had previously conducted a survey of the cemetery to add to the catalogue of Carroll County burial sites. They are currently working on the names of all those buried there.
The hike then proceeded from Black Dirt Road along an old logging road down to the river near where a boat ramp has been proposed to connect a water trail to McIntosh Park. The Black Dirt road entrance to the park is being developed for equestrian use with a grant which will include a short entrance road, parking lot and restroom facilities. Initial trail layout and clearing has begun which was observed in the eastern side of the park. Several visitors from Douglas County and from Fulton County/Chattahoochee Hills attended the hike which indicates the growing interest in development of this major asset in Carroll county.
January: Moore’s Bridge Park – Trudy Crunkleton, Carroll County Parks Director, provided an update on the parks of Carroll County and led a hike at Moore’s Bridge Park. The hike included a trip up to the Taylor cemetery and down to the old bridge on the Chattahoochee. The following pictures were provided by Stella Spyrou from the Sweetwater camera club and Nita Norton from the West Georgia Shutterbugs.