Drawn To Nature

I have a deep appreciation for my Heavenly Father and his wondrous creations!  I enjoy learning as much as I can about his glorious work, and feel deeply connected to him in all that I learn.  To help me with my learning of nature, I enjoy diving into various books and taking up courses offered in our community.  Phinizy has a wonderful Ornithology class being offered, and they adding Dendrology classes to their program!  Both classes are being taught by Ruth Mead!  She is quite the inspiration!!  I find myself so encouraged after each class that I can't help but share the beauty of what I am learning with my family and piano students.  They LOVE it, and it truly opens the minds of my students!!!  (See example on photo directly below)

Another exciting thing that has happened is we now have a Georgia Naturalist Chapter in Augusta!!!  We had quite a turn out indicating the interest in our area.  I look forward to future meetings, field trips and workshops.

I have also been training to assist with classes taught at Phinizy to schools in Richmond & Columbia County and homeschoolers. I enjoy working with kids, and this is going to be a treat!

Kennedy learning her birds and keyboard identification.  ("Place the Northern Cardinal on 'C/Do'.....place the Pileated Woodpecker on 'D/Re'......the Yellow Warbler on 'G/So'", etc.)

Georgia Naturalist Chapter at Phinizy

Training for assisting and teaching nature science classes to  public Schools and home schoolers.

Ornithology Class
In the photos below, we started the course and birding at Phinizy (9/2, 9/9/15, 8 AM).  From there, our birding adventures took place at Pendleton King Park (9/16/15), and Lover's Lane (9/23/15).

9/2/15 Phinizy Classroom

Birds Viewed:
Sept 2, 2015                         
*Great Blue Heron          
*Great Egret                     
-Cattle Egret                   
-Black Vulture                
*Turkey Vulture              
-Morning Dove               
-Chimney Swift               
-Belted Kingfisher 

September 9, 2015  
 -Pied-billed Grebe, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Little Blue Heron, American Crow, Tri-colored Heron, Carolina Wren, White Ibis, Blue-gray Gnat-catcher, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, Common Gallinule, White-eyed Vireo, Mourning Dove, Blue Grosbeak, Chimney Swift, Northern Cardinal, Barn Swallow, Tufted Titmouse, Red-winged Blackbird, Northern Rough-winged Swallow 

(*) Birds seen on both Sept 2 and Sept 9th.

9/16/15 Pendleton Park


Location:  Pendleton Park
Temp:  Overcast, 9 People in attendance.  Saw 20 Kinds of birds.

Birds viewed:
Little Blue Heron, Blue Jay, Canada Goose, Carolina Wren, Domestic White Duck, Eastern Blue Bird, Mallard, American Robin, Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Brown Thrasher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Redstart, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Eurasian Collard Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Wood-Pewee, House Finch.    

9/23/15 (Below) Scenery at Lover's Lane

Birds viewed:

Anhinga, Cooper's Hawk, Carolina Wren, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Blue-gray Gnatcher, Great Egret, Sora, Northern Mockingbird, Little Blue Heron, Killdear, Brown Thrasher, Wood Stork, Rock Pigeon, White-eyed Vireo

Wood Duck, Mourning Dove, Red-eyed Vireo, Mallard, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Northern Parula, Blue-winged Teal, Eastern Phoebe, Northern Cardinal, Black Vulture, American Crow, Red-winged Blackbird, Turkey Vulture, Carolina Chickadee, Common Grackle, Osprey, Tufted Titmouse

Comics Shared at Ornithology Class

Georgia Master Naturalist Program

* Class located at Phinizy Center for Water Sciences 
Swamp & Nature Park.

I have eagerly awaited this program, and I'm happy to say it has finally begun!!!  We met a day before class for meet and greet!  To aid in our getting to know one another, we were given drawings of large rain drops containing nature facts and divided in half.  One half had a question, the other half had the answer.  We were to search for an individual in the class that had the matching half.  Our assignment was to learn about the individual and introduce them to the class.  (Photo left:  Plaster molds for an upcoming project.)

We took a quick break to search for small objects -such as leaves and twigs- located near the education classroom on campus.  To encourage nature journaling, we were asked to draw the items that we collected.

Delicious refreshments were served during the break.

We continued our drawings while munching.  To clearly observe details of the items being drawn, each student was given a small magnifying glass.  It will be perfect to carry along during our hikes and field journaling.  Love how lightweight it is.

Magnifier for detailed observations

My collection gathered, and our handbook for study.

My nature journal for the class

Later, we were to look at our hands using the magnifier and give descriptive words or phrases of what we observed.  Words stated were:

                            wrinkly              porous                scarred
                             reptile               freckly                adventurous path
                             geometric         hairy                   ridges and valleys

We wrote poems and thoughts using the words stated.  It was fun hearing what everyone had written!

The next day, we started with a Wetland Soils Color Chart activity as everyone arrived and settled.  (See pages 7 and 8 here:  http://www.growforit.org/images/uploads/curriculum_files/Do_you_dig_wetland_soil.pdf )  Upon completion of that activity, we progressed on to having class outdoors!  We were given more nature facts created on raindrops drawn and halved to pair up with a partner.  Each of the partners read the facts (asking the questions and reading the responses) to the entire class.

After our morning class, we were divided into two group for field studies.  One group was teamed with an instructor to learn about plants in the wetland, the other group learned about the soil. To help with identifying plants in the area, we used a Wetland Wheel.   In studying soil in the field, we used the Wetland Soils Color Chart prepared through our morning activity, and a Soil Texture Key Triangle.  The hike was for an hour and then the groups exchanged instructor/topic for the next hour.

Wetland Wheel
Wet Soils Color Chart



 *Photos of plants shown through the field scope are Duckweed and Mosquito Fern.


We dug a small soil core and learned how our soil fit onto a wetland soil chart by examining its color and texture. It was amazing experiencing this!  Check out the water underneath the soil in the photo directly above!

Mud turtle can be identified by the "K" underneath

Upon our return, we had a lunch break, and watched a highly informative presentation.  It was all in perfect timing, because it began pouring down raining shortly after entering the class from our hike.

After the presentation, the rain peacefully subsided, making our next hike all the more interesting.  The inner kid in me does not mind walking through the mud puddles!  We put on our rain jackets and wet boots....and off to the trail we went to learn more!!!  I saw sections of Phinizy Park that I have never seen before.  It was beautiful!

This was such a joyful and therapeutic experience.  Being among a loving and supportive group adds to the joy.  Everyone is helpful and looks out for one another during the hike.

I now have a deeper appreciation for the wetlands and their value.  Many thanks to our awesome instructors! I appreciate how the course is arranged to tap into "all" learning styles.  Next week, the topic will be "Forestry", and our adventure will be at the Silver Bluff Audubon.  I am thoroughly looking forward to it!

For more information about the Georgia Master Naturalist Program at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, visit the following links: