Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
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Summer 2013             

Dear Junior Ranger,
In this issue we will explore Signs of Summer, happenings in nature that are best seen or heard in the summer season - from feathers dropped by molting birds to katydids calling from the treetops.  (The Common Katydid was  the Cool Critter pictured in the Spring E-News).
It has been a soggy summer this year in Georgia.  But, the abundant rainfall is certainly welcome after years of drought in our state.  Get outside and enjoy the summer sunshine, and have fun splashing around in the rain!
Cindy Reittinger
Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks

Also in this Issue:
* Who Lived Here?
* WOW - Osprey & Bats!
* Meet "Scout"
* Learn More About It
* What's SUP?
* Bald Birds?
* Bad Bugs - FREE Tattoos!
* Outdoor Fun


Cool "Critter"
Can you identify this Georgia plant?

Plants can be as cool as animals - check out these "electric grape" colored berries!  Correctly identify this plant by August 26 and be entered to win a free Park Pass - good for free admission to all Georgia State Parks for a whole year! 

This is only the second time our Cool "Critter" has been a plant.  If you can correctly identify this plant AND tell me the only other Cool Critter plant that has been used, I will enter your name twice in the drawing to win.  Note: All of the old issues of the E-News are posted on our Junior Ranger web page.  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.

Include your first name, and your age.


Who Lived Here?

Correctly identify the name of the family who last lived at this former rice plantation and dairy farm by August 26 and be entered to win free admission to visit this State Historic Site with your family.  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.
Note:  The house pictured in the last issue was the home of former Vice President of the Confederacy, A.H. Stephens.

WOW - Osprey!

Last year the staff at Sweetwater Creek State Park put up a pole with a large platform to encourage osprey to build a nest.  We are pleased to report that a pair of osprey moved in this spring! You can see the nest from Mount Vernon  Road as you enter the park.
THINGS TO DO: Learn more about osprey and view a live osprey nest.

WOW - Long-Eared Bats!
Scientists recently discovered Northern Long-Eared Bats living at James H. Floyd State Park near Summerville, Georgia.  It is easy to see how these curious little creatures with long ears got their name! 

Due to loss of habitat and a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome these bats will soon be listed as endangered species.
THINGS TO DO: Learn more about Northern Long-Eared Bats.

Meet "Scout" 

Our Georgia State Park Gopher has a name!  As part of our Great Gopher Chase in June, park visitors had a chance to submit their ideas for a gopher name. The winning entry was "Scout" - a fitting name for our lively, outdoor-fun mascot!

Learn More About It


Check out these books at your local library:
A Kid's Summer Ecojournal: Activities for Exploring the Season by Toni  Albert & Margaret Brandt
* Cicadas! Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle
* Bird, Egg, Feather, Nest by Maryjo Koch


Photo Credits
Masthead, Linda Patrick
Osprey Nest: Emily Reittinger
Emerald Ash Borer: University of Georgia


Twinkling Fireflies

Enjoy the "Magic"
There is nothing as magical as the flashing of fireflies on a warm summer night.

One of  the best places to watch fireflies (also called lightning bugs) is on the edge of a grassy field near a woodland.  Each different firefly species has a unique flash pattern which they use to signal and locate mates.
FUN FACT:  There is a " trickster" species of firefly; the female imitates the flashes of other species to attract the males - and then she eats them!
DID YOU KNOW? Not all fireflies have the ability to make light.  That is why you won't see flashing fireflies in the western United States.   The fireflies that live there can't light up!
THINGS TO DO: 
* Go outside at night and look for lightning bugs.  Catch them to get a closer look.  But, handle them with care and release them before you go to bed.
* Learn more about fireflies.

Bald Birds? 
On walks through my neighborhood this week I have found a few feathers on the ground - a reminder that many birds are molting right now.
Late summer and early fall are the typical time for most birds to lose and replace their worn feathers - scientists call it molting.  Typically all feathers are not replaced at the same time.  Occasionally somebody reports a bald bird at their backyard  feeder.  The experts tell us that these are young birds that for some reason lost all of their head feathers at the same time.  But don't worry, it is only temporary.  They will grow new feathers.
THINGS TO DO: Watch for molting birds in your backyard and look for feathers on the ground.

Sounds of Summer Nights
If you have been out at night recently, you may have heard some loud and unfamiliar sounds.  Crickets may be familiar but, the other insects you hear calling from the treetops are cicadas and katydids.
They make their "music" in different ways.  Katydids rub their front wings together.  Cicadas generate vibrations in their mid-section which are amplified in their large, mostly hollow abdomen.
THINGS TO DO: 
* Take a walk at night. Listen for the repetitive sound of Common Katydids; listen for cicadas - a continuous buzz that rises and falls. 
* Calculate the temperature using a "cricket thermometer".  You can use crickets to measure the air temperature - count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 to determine the approximate temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.


What's SUP?


Hot summer days are ideal for water sports - swimming,  canoeing, kayaking and sailing are familiar fun activities for cooling off in the summer.  A new water sport which has become popular in Georgia is Stand Up Paddling (SUP).  It's like surfing with a paddle - big waves are not required!
THINGS TO DO: Our friends at REI offer SUP classes at Sweetwater Creek State Park and Fort Yargo State Park as part of the REI Outdoor School. 

Really BAD Bugs


Insects play an important role in nature and many are beneficial to humans.  But, sometimes an insect gets moved to a new place by humans and causes problems.  That is the case with the Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle from Asia that kills ash trees.
Scientists recently discovered Emerald Ash Borers in Georgia, and they tell us that these insects can travel from place to place hidden in firewood.  Campers can help prevent them from spreading by using only local firewood - Burn it Where You Buy It!  Never move firewood from one location to another.
THINGS TO DO: Email the Chief Naturalist to request your FREE Emerald Ash Borer tattoos.  Use them to tell your friends and family about these bad bugs.


Outdoor Fun

Visit Georgia's Newest State Park
Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia is now open!  Come for the day and swim at the beach, hike the trails and explore the park.   They also have campgrounds and cabins if you want to stay and explore the park at night.

Try our First Time Camper Program
If you have never camped in a tent, now is a great time to try!  Eight of our Georgia State Parks are participating in our First Time Camper Program.  They will loan you the necessary gear and help you get set-up.
 



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