Tag Archives: Georgia Wildlife

Wild Turkey Mount, Edison

This was located in an antique store window in downtown Edison.

Wilson’s Snipe, Ben Hill County

Folklore suggests that a snipe hunt is a fool’s errand. But snipe are real birds, if rarely encountered.  The term sniper comes from the difficulty hunters of this bird face. It’s well-camouflaged and flies in such an irregular pattern that a clean shot is nearly impossible. I was very lucky to see this Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) on Thanksgiving morning.


And in a flash, he was gone.



Green Heron, Upson County


Green Herons (Butorides virescens) are among the most common residents in the shallows along the Flint River. This one was photographed at Sprewell Bluff.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Ben Hill County


Few creatures engender more fear and misunderstanding than the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamenteus).  I personally think they’re beautiful, but they should always be respected at a distance. I don’t encourage anyone to get as close as I did when making this photograph. But let them live. They’re one of our best allies in regards to reducing rodent populations and they’re an important indicator of the health of our broader ecosystem. The Georgia-based Orianne Society, which is focused primarily on the preservation of the Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi), also works to preserve this species.



Gopher Tortoise, Ben Hill County

ben hill county ga gopherus polyphemus gopher tortoise photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that this species is threatened because I see them quite often in my rambles on dirt roads throughout South Georgia, but it faces numerous challenges. Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are emblematic of the upland pine habitat that once blanketed the Southeast but are now greatly reduced due to changes in land usage and myriad environmental factors. The Gopher Tortoise Council is a wonderful place to find information of these beloved symbols of our Southern forests.

ben hill county ga endangered gopher tortoise photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Common Snapping Turtle, Irwin County

Common Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina Irwin County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

Some would say the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) isn’t the most attractive creature, but it’s a symbol of the swamps and wetlands of South Georgia. The species actually ranges from Canada to Florida. There’s all sorts of folklore regarding these creatures; my great-grandmother always said that if a snapping turtle got you in its grips, it wouldn’t let go until it heard thunder. That may or may not be the case, but I won’t get close enough to find out. I’ll admire from a distance.

Common Snapping Turtle Walker Road Irwin County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

Oatland Island, Savannah


Built in 1927 as a retirement home for the Brotherhood of Railroad Conductors, the “main building” today serves as an educational center for the surrounding Oatland Island Wildlife Center. It is quite typical of institutional architecture of its era and subsequently served as a Public Health Service hospital in World War II. Until being surplussed in 1973, it was used as a development laboratory by the Centers for Disease Control. The Chatham County Board of Education has owned it since then and it serves over 20,000 students and visitors each year as a wildlife education facility today. To movie buffs, the building may be familiar to viewers of the John Travolta movie, The General’s Daughter, as it was used as a set location. And Martha Barnes adds this interesting bit of Savannah trivia: People who read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will remember the main building as where Luther Driggers worked and actually developed the chemical used in today’s flea collars, but in the book he was always about to poison Savannah’s water supply.


Carol Suttle, a Savannah native and Oatland’s most enthusiastic ambassador, contacted me several months ago about photographing the old water tower at the entrance to the center; it’s scheduled to be demolished and it’s one of her favorite structures on the island. Touring the island and its natural features with Carol and photographer Mike McCall was a real treat, and I hope to revisit in the future. Located just past downtown Savannah on the Islands Expressway (US 80), it’s often overlooked by tourists heading to Tybee Island but is well worth a visit! See the link at the end of this post for specifics about admission and other particulars.


David Delk, Jr., built this cabin in 1837 in the Taylor’s Creek community near Gum Branch in Liberty County. It was moved and reconstructed here by the Youth Conservation Corps in 1979. The layout is of the Scots/Irish or “shotgun” design (not to be confused with the more common and more recent shotgun “house”), a vernacular form common in early Georgia.


Martha Phillips Youngblood writes that the corn crib pictured above was originally owned by her grandfather, Thomas Hilton Phillips, and was moved here from Treutlen County.

Oatland Island GA Abandoned Barn Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015
Oatland Island GA CDC Predecessor Abandoned Utility Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The two abandoned structures pictured above are remnants of the bureaucratic era on the island. A hand-crafted boat from the 1970s can also be seen on the property.

Oatland Island GA Savannah Abandoned Ship Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), as well as wolves and bison can be easily seen on the property.


Beautiful Richardson Creek runs adjacent to the island.

Richardson Creek at Oatland Island Savannah GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Sandhill Crane, Crisp County

Sandhill Crane Grus candensis During Migration in Crisp County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Among North America’s largest birds, Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) are quite familiar during their annual migrations from the northern reaches of the continent to the southern United States and Mexico. They’re known for their loud calls and their habit of gathering in large numbers. I encountered around a thousand individuals yesterday feeding in freshly plowed fields saturated with recent rains.

Juvenile White Ibis, Darien

This young bird was spotted in Waterfront Park.


Swallow-tailed Kites, Long County

Swallow tailed Kite in flight Long County Ga nesting grounds photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2014

One of the most beautiful raptors in North America, Swall0w-tailed Kites (Elanoides forficatus) are a South American species which breeds in scattered locations around the South in spring. By late August they begin their long migration to South America and it’s during this time that large numbers of them, along with Mississippi Kites (Ictinia mississippiensis), can be observed in large numbers in Long County. Bird watchers descend at a remote farm near the Altamaha River in growing numbers each year to see this phenomenon.