pollen on carIt’s springtime in Atlanta, although it really feels more like Summer! Along with the warm sunshine and clear blue skies, the pollen has also made a madcap entrance here in the South.

spring flowers

The forecasters have announced that nearly everything from foliage to pollen to bird migration has occurred about a month early this year. We have experienced the warmest spring ever on record.  And I have seen those signs first hand.

Typically, late March to early April brings the return of the Great Blue Herons to Lake Lanier. They spend weeks building their nests atop the pine trees on what HK and I call Heron Island. Then, around the middle to end of April, the babies hatch. It is such a joy to watch them grow in fledglings and test their wings before continuing on the journey North.

This year, however, two oddities have occurred. First, very few arrived. Maybe a quarter to a third of the typical flock. Studying the tops of the trees for signs of nests, we realized that the density of the trees on Heron Island has thinned substantially. This is possibly due to a growing infestation of pine bark beetles, which can eventually cull large swaths of pine forest.

Second, the Herons arrived early. Really early, and have already hatched their babies. Some have already left, which usually happens in June.

What is migrating right now are the crowds of locals to our favorite Atlanta park, Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta. We took a fun bike ride the other day and loved seeing all the folks taking advantage of all the beauty of an Atlanta Spring day.

Atlanta Botanical garden

Atlanta Piedmont Park

I hope that all of you are enjoying Spring, and whatever it brings.

Well, peeps, after fostering this latest little guy for 2 months and falling head over heels, I’ve decided to keep Chance. I was determined to find his perfect “forever home”, but that just never happened. Every time I got a request for more info about him, or received an application, my heart would speed up and I’d start sweating. (OK, there are for sure some hot flashes mixed in there, but, you know what I’m sayin’…)

I did take him to a Petsmart adoption event, held on behalf of the awesome rescue group I volunteer with-Animal Action Rescue-check them out!–but every time I put him in the crate, he cried and barked and became just a big distraction. Then, on the few occasions that anybody actually picked him up, I just wanted to tell them what an awful little dog he was. He’s not, of course, but surely that would turn them away.

So after countless hours of discussions with self, I realized that continuing to bring strange, temporary dogs into my household was not emotionally healthy for my 12-year old dog Kismet. Nothing to do with me, Nope.  Nada.  (yeah, right).

So I started “grooming” him to be our dog. I took him to the lake, where he promptly fell in twice and nearly drowned.  HK had to jump in in his clothes once to fish him out from under the dock.  So he got this little orange life jacket, and now, 2 weeks later, we can’t keep him OUT of the lake! Hope you enjoy his little video, along w/ Kismet and Roxie-his new siblings.

I’ll continue to be active in animal rescue. I have volunteered to transport dogs (see pup my ride ) and make donations as well as pet food drives, but now I know that I am just not cut out for fostering. (At least not right now).

Oh, did I mention that “Good Dogs Doing Good”, the book that I have a story published in, is doing very well? Check it out! WOOF!

It’s official—Spring is here!  Yeah, I know, the weather here in Georgia has been beautiful for a couple of weeks now, all the spring flower are blooming, and the pollen has spread a thick coat of florescent yellow powder over everything. But you wanna know how i really know it’s Spring? The Great Blue Herons have returned to nest on “Heron Island”.

Every year, right about the middle of April, HK and I take the boat out of hibernation on Lake Lanier in the North Georgia mountains.  The first stop on our agenda is a tiny little island about the size of a 7-11 store, that is covered in scrubby, tall pine trees. Keeping a respectable distance, we cut  the engine.   We look,  we listen, and we wait.

Suddenly, we catch sight of a long, narrow figure lifting above the tops of the tree canopy. Shaped like a graceful question-mark, it is the head and neck of a Great Blue Heron, peering out of it’s twiggy nest.  We both fall completely silent. Straining to listen, we hear harsh croak of the mighty birds. It always seems like once we’ve heard that first call, the chorus begins with gusto. Klack Klack Klack…This tiny little speck of land surrounded by vast amounts of open water suddenly comes to life, it seems to be moving on it’s own with the activity of the colony preparing their nests for the upcoming birth of their babies.

During the day, we often find ourselves watching them from the distance for hours as they come and go, delivering sticks, leaves and whatever other materials they need to build their impressive nests.

During the evenings, after sunset,  it is a real treat to quietly motor towards the island and listen to their banter while gazing at the stars above. If we close our eyes, it’s easy to imagine ourselves in a different world, a different time, light-years away from the metropolis that we call home.

The herons return every year. And every year, it is a thrill to welcome them back.  That’s how we know it’s really Spring.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

For the last several months, HK and I have been visiting our friends, the great blue herons, almost every weekend.  Each year, beginning in March or April, dozens of the beautiful birds come to an island on the Lake Lanier near our house. The males show up first and choose what they hope will be considered prime real estate by the soon-to-arrive females. Once the lady birds have decided on a mate, she begins decorating the tree-top nest.  Soon, they’re expecting, and within a month or so babies arrive.

Our routine is to visit the island that they inhabit around dusk, when they’re most active in their nests. “Klack Klack Klack…” they are so chatty. We love watching (more…)