Providence Canyon State Park

Late this summer, I had the opportunity to visit another state park gem…Providence Canyon State Park. It is what we in Georgia refer to as the Little Grand Canyon. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, so I don’t know how close to the truth that description is; however, I did find the canyons here to be quite fascinating.

providence-canyon-4

The most striking feature about the canyon is how soft the walls are. There were many signs stating that climbing and repelling were prohibited, but I assumed the warnings were in place because the state did not wish to be responsible for anyone getting hurt. It was not until we reached the bottom of the canyon and I actually ran my fingers along one of the walls that I realized just how dangerous attempting to climb or repel on them might be. The walls felt as if they were made of pure sand. The sand glittered in the little rivulets of water flowing in the canyon valley and tumbled down the walls with as little as a butterfly landing.

I couldn’t imagine anyone attempting to climb the walls. It was more than obvious that the canyon was carved out from erosion. What was truly amazing was that the walls were even there…that they did not fall. Not only were they there, but people wandered about at the top along the rim trail. The fact that those massive walls were mostly sand and that we were walking and driving on the land above was astonishing! God’s world is truly amazing!

The day we visited the park was beautiful in that there were little to no clouds. As we gazed up at the canyon walls, we could take in the sight of the white and red colored walls against a beautiful deep blue sky. It was truly breathtaking. Of course, the heat was also breathtaking…quite literally. Within a couple of hours of exploring, we had consumed our water, my fair skin was burning, and we were drenched in sweat. Thankfully, I brought my tripod into the canyon to get some good shots, because my hands were shaking too much from heat and exertion to get any good clear shots hand-held.

The contrast of the blue sky made for some interesting black and white photos as well.

Another spectacular sight we were privileged to see on this particular day was swarms of butterflies everywhere. Not only were there the usual little swarms of sulphers, but there were also Common Buckeyes and Gulf Fritillaries. I had never seen quite so many of the two latter species in such great numbers in one place before, and their colors were bright and shimmering in the sunlight streaming into the canyon. It was like walking through a fairyland. I sat for quite some time trying to get some good photos of those busy little insects flitting from place to place. Out of the many shots I took, only a few came out clear. It was quite relaxing to just sit and watch them flit about, and every one that landed on the sandy walls sent a little stream of sand trickling down. It was a bit unnerving that such a tiny, lightweight creature could disturb the walls so. It made me wonder what happened when a rain storm came through.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to explore much on this warm day. I will be heading out there when the weather is cooler to do some more exploring soon I hope. But until then, I hope you enjoy the shots I was able to get from this expedition.

The Joys of Autumn…and Butterfly and Moth Collecting

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year. The leaves change colors, the air gets cooler, and all the colorful harvest time vegetables grace our senses. One of my favorite things about fall, however, are the swarms of butterflies that visit my butterfly bushes in the backyard. Today, after the rain storm, the bushes were teaming with life, and I found yet another butterfly I haven’t photographed and identified yet.

Years ago, I remember seeing a butterfly collection. It was a board with dead butterflies pinned to it. I found that quite horrific, as I love these beautiful creatures. I lamented over this terrible thing while my father listened one evening. I’m not sure he found it quite as horrific as I did, but he loved these creatures too. He had a lovely butterfly coloring book that he worked on from time to time. Now, when I say coloring book, I don’t mean a children’s coloring book but one of those nice ones with the waxy pages that you color with color pencils. He had carefully colored in some of the species he had looked up and colored them with accuracy. I’m not sure what happened to that old book, but I have taken up the butterfly quest. I, however, have chosen to collect butterflies and moths in photograph. So far, I have collected 22 different butterflies and moths.

There’s not much story behind the collection other than what I have told in previous posts, so I’ll just share my butterflies and moths and their names with you.

American Lady

American Lady (4) American Lady Butterfly American Lady-1

Bumblebee Sphinx Moth

watermarked edits-87 watermarked edits-80 watermarked edits-77

Cabbage White

Cabbage White-3

Cloudywing Skipper

Dun Skipper-1

Common Buckeye

Common Buckeye Common BuckeyeCommon Buckeye

Dun Skipper

Dun Skipper (2) Dun Skipper

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

watermarked edits-33 watermarked edits-21 watermarked edits-2Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (30)

Fiery Skipper

Fiery Skipper (1) Fiery Skipper-2 Fiery Skipper-3

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary Great Spangled Fritillary Great Spangled Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary (1) Gulf Fritillary (5) Gulf Fritillary-2 Gulf Fritillary sipping nectar

Long Tailed Skipper

Long Tailed Skipper-3 Long Tailed Skipper-6 Long Tailed Skipper-8 Long Tailed Skipper-9 Long Tailed Skipper-17

Monarch

Monarch Butterfly Monarch-4 Monarch-6

Pearl Crescent

Pearl Crescent Pearl Crescent Pearl Crescent

Red Admiral

Red Admiral-4 Red Admiral-6 Red Admiral-9 Red Admiral-11 Red Admiral-13 Red Admiral-15

Red Banded Hairstreak

Red-banded Hairstreak Red-banded Hairstreak

Red Spotted Purple

Eastside Trail-18 Eastside Trail-22Red Spotted Purple (22) Red Spotted Purple (23) Red Spotted Purple Butterfly Wing

Regal Moth (Royal Walnut Moth)

Regal Moth (face and legs) Regal Moth (Royal Walnut Moth) Regal Moth (side view)

Silver Spotted Skipper

Silver Spotted Skipper (1) Silver Spotted Skipper (5) Silver Spotted Skipper (6) Silver Spotted Skipper (8) Silver Spotted Skipper (10)

Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail in Flight Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail

Spring Azures

Spring Azures (they are purple on top when they are flitting about) Spring Azure

Zabulon Skipper

Zabulon Skipper Having Dinner Fiery Skipper Fiery Skipper Fiery Skipper

And here are a few caterpillars:

Luna Moth Caterpillar

Luna Moth Caterpillar's face You can see all the fuzzies on this guy in this pic

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Fort Yargo (Part 2: Critters and a Few Other Things)

Welcome to Part 2 of my Fort Yargo hiking adventure! If you haven’t read Part 1, go back and read that now.

Did you finish Part 1? Very good…now on to Part 2, the really exciting stuff…

Sometime between noon and one, my husband and I stopped for some really yucky organic meal shakes and water. I noticed the webbing of some tent caterpillars and strolled over for a look. As I was examining the nest looking for signs of the inhabitants, my husband pointed out another web near the water on the other side of the bench. Being a bit nearsighted, it took me a minute to find what he was pointing to. As he was verbally directing me to the wonder, he held our bouncing furry companion at bay so that she would not inadvertently destroy said wonder with a swish of her tail. Eventually I too discovered the web and was both amazed and disturbed by the scene that I found…

Writing Spider with prey

It seems that a lovely Writing Spider was also enjoying her lunch…or perhaps storing the rest of it away for later. Either way, her feast of dragonfly was rudely interrupted by a crazy photographer lady (that would be me). As I maneuvered my way around the web to the other side to get a better vantage point (and being careful not to lose my balance and fall into the lake), I heard my husband shout, “It’s coming after you!”

And indeed she was! Apparently I had jostled the web a bit, and this beauty decided she was about to catch some dinner! Alas, her hopes were dashed when she viewed the size of her new prey. Rather than give up, however, she perched herself delicately on her strings of silk ready to be my model. And who could ask for a more terrifyingly beautiful model.

Her lovely black and gold body shone brightly in the sunlight.

Writing spider (top view)

With her head of silver fur and her many dark black eyes, she was both captivating and unnerving.

Writing Spider (head close-up)

Even more unnerving were the fangs she sported underneath these beady black eyes. But aside from the fangs, the underside of her body was fascinating. I captured a very detailed shot of her thorax where her eight long legs connect to her large shiny exoskeleton. And what the photos capture that the naked eye rarely sees (mostly because you aren’t going to dare to get close enough to view it) are the spiky hairs all over the spider’s body.

Writing Spider (close-up of thorax and fangs) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

This lovely orb spider had woven her beautiful web next to the lake with the tell-tale zig-zag which is the signature feature of the writing spider. When we were young, my cousin and I were of the understanding that a writing spider could actually write. We offered many a paper with words on it to our writing friends one summer. Now that I’m older, I know that unless they are named Charlotte, they can’t really write anything other than z’s, but it made for a fun summer nonetheless. On this particular occasion, however, I was lucky enough to capture a photo of this lovely lady extruding silk from her spinneret to weave her web.

Writing Spider (abdomen close-up with spinnerette extruding silk)

These amazing creatures are both beautiful and frightening, and I feel privileged to have been allowed the chance to photograph one at such close range without conflict.

Writing Spider (side view with lake in the background) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

The next little critter I happened upon was a nervous little tufted titmouse. He lit on a branch just long enough for me to snap a slightly blurred photo.

Fort Yargo (watermarked)-69

Then there were the butterflies flitting about the edge of the lake drinking in the nectar of wildflowers. The most beautiful of the two that I captured, and the one I got the best photos of, was the Common Buckeye.

Common Buckeye Common Buckeye Common Buckeye

And the other little guy was a Red-banded Hairstreak. The pictures of him were not quite so clear, but they turned out okay.

Red-banded Hairstreak Red-banded Hairstreak

I also got a few scenic photos, two of which I displayed as the feature image for the posts. The rest of them I will show you now.

Fort Yargo (watermarked)-25 Fort Yargo (watermarked)-26 Fort Yargo (watermarked)-33 Fort Yargo (watermarked)-56 Fort Yargo (watermarked)-73 Fort Yargo (watermarked)-74Fort Yargo (watermarked)-67Fort Yargo (watermarked)-71

Our hiking trip was cut a little short due to my sister needing a last minute babysitter, so we kicked it into high gear to get ourselves out of the woods and back to the car. This unfortunately proved to be a mistake as I tripped over an exposed tree root and went sailing across the path. No permanent harm done, though, just a bruised up knee and some minor scrapes.

When we arrived home, our hurry was for naught, as my mother returned home just in time to babysit. But the evening was not wasted. My husband went into the backyard and found a baby fence lizard which apparently had no problem sitting peacefully on his hand. He was also rather fond of the camera, so I got quite a few close-ups of this little guy.

Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard

And I shall end my tale with a couple of rather good photos of my hiking companions…

Dixie Fort Yargo (watermarked)-72