With spring in full bloom, approximately 75 birding and wildflower enthusiasts participated in educational hikes at the 107-acre Euharlee wildlife refuge on Dobbins Mountain. The hikes – hosted by Cartersville Ranch and the City of Euharlee – provided members of the Atlanta Audubon Society, Georgia Ornithological Society, Georgia Botanical Society, Georgia Native Plant Society and Coalition for the Right Road with the opportunity to learn about several different types of wildflowers, plants, birds, butterflies and other animals.
Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, led the birding hike through the easement and noted 58 bird species. Participants heard and saw several types of birds, but the great-crested flycatcher and summer tanager were the most common neotropical birds observed.
Jennifer Hackemeyer, a birding enthusiast, said, “I have been birding for more than 20 years all over Georgia, and I saw some birds on Dobbins Mountain that I’ve never seen before.”
“It was wonderful to see that male summer tanager give us such a show,” stated Jean Pell, a birding and wildflower blogger from Taylorsville, Ga. “Plus, I was able to learn some bird songs from Josh, such as the summer and scarlet tanagers.”
While many were impressed with the variety of birds observed, others remarked at the beauty and habitat quality of the conservation easement.
“The habitat is very high quality, and it appeared to be a really nice forest with a good diversity of trees and understory plants,” noted Jim Ferrari, president of the Georgia Ornithology Society. “I think you get a great sense of the diversity of migratory species – tanagers, grosbeaks and warblers.”
Jim Allison, who is a leading expert on Southeastern wildflowers, butterfly enthusiast and botanist for 13 years at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), led the wildflower hike through the easement. During the hike, attendees were able to learn about and photograph the red-spotted purple butterfly, Alabama black cherry tree, Robin’s plantain, fire pink, cut-leaf buttercup and more. The most notable find during the hike was the state-protected Pink Ladyslipper, a native orchid.
“It was a beautiful property, a wonderful trip, and we appreciate the ranch and City of Euharlee opening up the property for us,” said Jim Drake, president of the Georgia Botanical Society. “We saw a variety of wildflowers, the Pink Ladyslipper and several other beautiful flowers. It’s just a really great place.”
Designated as a significant wildlife refuge by the City of Euharlee in 2010, the conservation easement on Dobbins Mountain was certified for special conservation status last year by the DNR because it protects wildlife habitat through the conservation of high priority species and habitats.
“A conservation easement is a great way to preserve unique resources, such as the Euharlee Wildlife Refuge,” said Hackemeyer. “It’s different than a state park or national wildlife refuge, because it’s really not developed or presented for large public access. Because of that, it makes the easement all the more special.”