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Honoring the Brown Thrasher: Chalk Art Festival 2019

Have you ever walked through Piedmont Park and stopped for a moment to close your eyes and listen to the birds sing?

Piedmont Park is home to countless birds and other wildlife. No matter what is happening on the grounds of Piedmont Park, there are little creatures with big stories fluttering through the treetops.

In honor of Georgia Grows Native for Birds month in September, the Piedmont Park Conservancy is participating in the Atlanta Audubon Society Chalk Art Festival and highlighting the Brown Thrasher, a common resident of Piedmont Park.

The Brown Thrasher, the state bird of Georgia, is a relatively large songbird that can be identified by their brown feathers, yellow eyes, curved beak, and bold black and white patterns. Brown Thrashers nest in dense wooded areas such as forests, and are the only species of Thrasher found east of Texas. With an omnivorous diet, they are ground foragers and primarily survive on fruits (such as holly berries), seeds, and nuts.

 

Photo credit: Kevin Gaston

The Piedmont Park Conservancy’s design will feature native plants used by Brown Thrashers for food and habitat by illustrating a “bird’s eye view” of the native plants that attract them; a close up of the Brown Thrasher’s eye; and inside the eye will be those native plants such as Holly, Elderberry, Juniper, Dogwood and Serviceberry.

Appreciation goes to our artists: Dana Buskovitz, Krystal Collier, Hannah Hanssens-Reed, and Kaycee Walker!

Please visit the Conservancy’s piece, and all of the art at the Atlanta Audubon Society’s Chalk Art Festival on Sunday, September 29. Chalking occurs from 1-5pm. Voting and awards is from 5-6pm. The festival is located at the Piedmont Commons of Piedmont Park. This location is at the very north end of Piedmont Park.

Have Fun in the Sun at Piedmont Park: Ultimate Summer Bucket List

Are you looking for something to do this summer besides sitting at home? If so, then search no longer. Piedmont Park offers many exciting outdoor activities to keep you engaged all summer long. Here’s a few things to scratch off your bucket list:

1. Sweat on the Volleyball Courts on Free Play Fridays

Invite your family or friends for a fun game of volleyball in the Park. The Active Oval has two sand volleyball courts open for reservations every day except on Fridays. Otherwise it is first come, first serve!  https://www.piedmontpark.org/things-to-do/sports/

2. Hit Your Stride on the Track in the Active Oval

Whether you’re an early morning runner or late night jogger, the Active Oval is perfect for you. A former horse track, this location is great for exercise. Whether you sweat it out on the track or field there’s always a way to stay fit in the Park.

3. Bend it out at Yoga on the Promenade

Who knew getting in shape could be so peaceful? Every fourth Monday of the month, the Piedmont Park Conservancy along with Sprouts Farmer’s Market is offering free yoga to visitors like you. So, grab a mat and meet at the Promenade by 7PM! https://www.piedmontpark.org/fitness-health/

4. Make a Splash in the Pool with Your Friends

Wondering how you’re going to survive the summer heat? The answer is the pool. With temperatures rising each week, it’s important to stay cool. Join your friends at the pool this season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. https://www.piedmontpark.org/aquatics-pool/

5. Pitch in to Volunteer at the Park

If you have a desire to help the community and make an environmental difference, then become a volunteer. The Park relies on thousands of volunteers to assist with preservation and restoration, special events, tours and more. Support the Park today! https://www.piedmontpark.org/support-the-park/volunteer/

6. Meet Your Local Farmer at the Green Market

Most park visitors who workout care about what they eat, too. If this is you, then stop by the Green Market on Saturdays from 9AM to 1PM. The market connects you to local farmers, fresh produce,chef demonstrations and more.   https://www.piedmontpark.org/green-market/

7. Bring Your Pup to the Dog Parks

It’s been said “dogs are a man’s best friend”. What better way to treat your best buddy than to a play date? The Park provides three acres for your furry friends to run off-leash until tired. Come visit with your pet this summer! https://www.piedmontpark.org/dog-parks/

8. Connect with the Outdoors at the Conservancy Naturalist Booth

Do you like being outdoors? If so, then visit the Naturalist booth this summer. The booth is a fun, educational way to interact with visitors by providing useful information about nature, bees and the environment. The best part is, it’s free!

9. Grab a Bite and Hear the Music of Green Market’s Live Bands

Not only does the market provide sustainable food options, but also entertainment. Visitors that enjoy a good time should arrive at the Visitor’s Center by 10AM on Saturdays to watch live performances by talented musicians. https://www.piedmontpark.org/green-market/

Looking for interesting things to do this summer? Visit www.piedmontpark.org/calendar

Author: Amari Woods

Stop and Listen to the Birds Sing

If you’ve ever walked through Piedmont Park on a gorgeous spring day, you’ve likely been surrounded by the songs of more bird species than you realized were there. Before moving to Atlanta nine years ago, I could identify maybe five common songbirds and a few birds of prey, probably the same ones everyone knows. Though it’s nothing compared to dedicated birders, ornithologists, or even semi-serious hobbyists, I can easily ID three dozen or so now.

I’ve been lucky; most of my bird knowledge came to me through the grace of others- Books gifted from friends and family, bits of knowledge gleaned from birders, photographers, and friends who know more than me. Gray and brown birds on my home feeders, once lost in the fray, now stand out as chipping sparrows, house finches, brown-headed nuthatches, and several others.

Now I cannot help but notice dozens of species of birds when I’m outside. For me, lack of knowledge was a symptom of a lack of observation, and changing that behavior opened me up to an entire world.

Working in Piedmont Park, I take in as much as I can in between tasks, but as a park visitor you have the chance to sit back and observe. I strongly recommend you take advantage of sitting down on a bench, looking, listening, and noticing the birds. See if you can start picking them out by their call or colors.

Carolina Wren

With all that’s going on in our lives, it’s easy to inadvertently ignore all the different species of birds around you. For instance, the Carolina Wren as he, (only the males of the species sing) sings in a voice too big for his body. No doubt, if you live almost anywhere in the southeast, you have heard this call, but could you identify the wren by his song? If you saw him, would you recognize the shape of his body, upright tail, the white “eyebrow” line, or his thin, curving beak? These details, relied upon by birders, can easily go unnoticed unless we stop to see them.

Pileated Woodpecker

Over the sound of chirps, whistles, and trills, you may hear a distinct knocking on wood. A woodpecker will hammer on a tree in search of insects for lunch, or dig a hollow for a nest. If you can spot them, you’ll notice that they’re all some variation of black and white, usually with degrees of red on their heads. With the common downy woodpecker, a small red mark is a defining characteristic of the male. See the relatively large red bellied woodpecker, and you’ll likely wonder why it’s called that, since its bright head is redder than its belly. Let’s not forget the most famous (and largest) woodpecker, the pileated. The pileated woodpecker can be elusive, but you might find one feasting on grubs from a rotted tree trunk.

Brown Thrasher

Spring and fall turn the park into a hotbed for migratory birds avoiding harsh northern winters or revisiting breeding grounds, which creates great opportunity for interesting sightings. We have the easily recognizable northern cardinal, vibrant red (the females are more pinkish brown) with its bright orange beak, the American robin, foraging for worms on the ground in groups with their rusty orange chests and white rings around their eyes, and our friend from earlier, the Carolina wren. The northern mockingbird, a particularly vocal gray songster, can spout a dozen tunes in the span of a minute. They can have hundreds of songs in their repertoire, but our Georgia state bird, the brown thrasher, can have over a thousand!

American Robin

With the noise of civilization around us, birds provide a natural, meditative escape through their songs, their call and response, and variety in countless species. Whether or not you desire to know them all by name, or if you just want to enjoy their songs and observe their behavior, I sincerely hope that you take the  time (and now’s a good time to do it) to ignore everything else and focus on our feathered friends for a bit- watch, listen and be humbled by them. Learn a little or a lot, you’ll be richer for the experience- I promise.

Want to learn more about bird life in Piedmont Park? Sign up for one of our bird walks! https://www.piedmontpark.org/sightseeing-and-tours/

Author: Michael Paul

Photo Credits: Kevin Gaston

What You Missed at This Year’s Doggie Dash and 5K

On Sunday, March 10, the Piedmont Park Conservancy hosted its 6th annual Doggie Dash and 5K, and it was a hit! Over 130 people and their pups showed up on a cool Sunday morning for the race. The energy was high, the barking was loud, and the dashers were ready to take off!

With their owners in tow, the dogs turned on the jets and began their Doggie Dash journey. While some of the dogs were ready to take on the whole 5K, others participated in the less intense one-mile dash. Either way, all pups were geared up and ready to go!

Lizzie Colville was the first place winner for the Women’s bracket coming in at 21 minutes and 41 seconds, and Rob Mullet came in first for the men finishing the race in just 16 minutes and 22 seconds! Winners at the various levels received prizes from Spa Sydell, The W Hotel Midtown, City Tap, Park Tavern and Phidippides Running Store.

This event was a great success, raking in over $3,400, all of which goes toward maintaining the Piedmont Park Dog Parks. With over 700,000 dogs visiting the dog parks each year, the Conservancy needs all the help it can get to ensure pooches can enjoy the off-leash dog parks.

Want to stay informed about upcoming dog related events? Click the link and visit our calendar. You won’t want to miss the next one!

https://www.piedmontpark.org/calendar/

Author: Olivia Gage

Exploring Piedmont Park’s Northwoods

One of Atlanta’s best features is its easy access to incredible outdoor experiences in the Appalachians. For this reason, many of us can’t imagine living in a city without a short drive to abundant natural space. But for those who feel a lot more relaxed outside, midweek in the city can start to feel a little too cramped. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the weekend!

You are probably familiar with Piedmont Park’s popular destinations like the Meadow, or the Dog Parks, and all 200 plus acres of the Park are great places to spend some time outdoors. Just north of those locations, though, the paths lead you through a tucked away tree lined expansion to the Park. This is over 53 acres added in 2011 that boast nature trails and conservation areas, Legacy Fountain, the Northwoods, and the Piedmont Commons. After a brief foray through these paths you’re sure to find your breathing calmed and eyes open to the chirping birds, rustling chipmunks, and all the colors of life. Here are some amazing views in the Piedmont Park expansion that feel miles away from the city.

Where better in the Park to sit and read or write for an hour, or two, or three or four? You don’t get the distractions of festivals out here, just the ambient sounds of nature and the words on the page!

A short walk past the Conservancy offices is the Promenade Lawn, a beautiful clearing on a plateau in the treetops to the east.

A look at forest serenity, but only a stone’s throw from your door! Find the wooden staircase in the Walker Woods for these unpaved views.

Another great place to sit and read, you can find this stone mini-theater in the Six Springs Wetland near the Dog Parks.

Straight outta Narnia, you find yourself on the other side of the wardrobe in the Northwoods’ forested paths.

Author: William Lange

First Day of Summer: Are you in the know?

Although the heat has been blazing in Atlanta for the past couple of months, June 21st marked the first official day of summer. Now that the season is finally here, the question is how to spend it? To make this summer one to remember, head to Piedmont Park and involve the family in some outdoor fun! Whether it’s swimming the afternoon away or going to one of the Park’s many events, Piedmont Park has plenty of options for how you can make the most of the warm weather and clear skies–all in Atlanta’s backyard.

Events, Events and More Events

For an exciting weekend activity, rally up your crew and add a Park event to your summer schedule. For starters, the Horizon Theatre will be performing their hit musical, “Freaky Friday” on the Promenade through June 23. Attendees can bring blankets, low-back chairs and a picnic packed with dinner for a night of song, dance and boisterous laughter! With July arrives our Runaway Bride 5K, an event dedicated to the brides, grooms, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and “always-a-guests” out there looking for an excuse to flex their running/walking chops (and get a free t-shirt while they’re at it.) Dog lovers should check out a pup-friendly dog contest happening in early August at which one lucky dog will be named Piedmont Park’s Dog of the Year.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen!

Grab your towels and pool supplies for a cool down at Piedmont Park’s popular Aquatic Center, which features a pool with four lap lanes and plenty of shaded tables. There’s also the Legacy Fountain Splash Pad, a popular spot for kids who enjoy zig-zagging through its 70 jets. When you get hungry, check out our concessions: King of Pops, offering ice-cold popsicles or The Market where you can indulge in a savory lunch with options like the “Slow Pork & Mango Cuban” sandwich and the “Heart of the Park” hot dog.

Bikes R Us

Imagine this: You’re on a bike, cool air graces your face with each tire rotation and you’re surrounded by lush greenery. This could be you at Piedmont Park, where visitors can pedal on paved paths that lead to every corner of the Park for ample exploration. No bike? No problem. Atlanta’s low-cost Relay Bike Share bicycles are available to rent, allowing anyone to hop off their ride at seemingly every turn to take in the beautiful scenery.

Learn Something New!

Take a leisurely stroll through the Park and learn some interesting tidbits about the Park’s storied past by going on one of our free docent-led history tours. Lead yourself on a self-guided tour to explore the most photographed locations in the Park or make a game of spotting the some of the oldest trees in Atlanta. Bird walks are offered in collaboration with the Atlanta Audubon Society; hone your observation skills and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge of unique bird calls.

Don’t Miss Our Future Events!

Guest Post by Aliya Seymour

Piedmont Park Aquatic Center Celebrates 10 Year Restoration Anniversary

Northside Hospital Sponsorship Enhances Pool Experience

The Piedmont Park Conservancy is celebrating the Aquatic Center and Pool’s 10 year anniversary of its restoration in 2008! The past decade has been filled with fun and excitement at the pool, serving over 50,000 visitors each year.

The pool restoration added features: a children’s splash area, accessible beach entry, a current channel, water jets, four lap lanes, large pool deck, shade arbor, grassy area, and new showers and changing rooms. The pool also offers a concession stand for drinks and snacks in the hot summer sun. The massive restoration allowed the pool to flourish into the perfect summer getaway for local Atlantans.

In celebration of its 10 year restoration anniversary, Northside Hospital has committed to a yearlong sponsorship to further enhance Piedmont Park’s Aquatic Center.

“Piedmont Park is one of the Atlanta Region’s greatest assets, and one of the reasons Northside Hospital sought out this partnership. We believe that urban greenspace is a key part of healthy lifestyles. So for our employees, our patients, and their families, connecting Northside to Piedmont Park makes sense.

Our support of the Aquatic Center is especially important to us, as it provides awareness of both swimming and skin safety during the warm months. Northside is excited to expand our outreach in Midtown Atlanta, where many of our patients live and work. Piedmont Park, with its proximity to the Beltline and other city parks, is experiencing a surge in popularity – Northside is proud to join with them.”

– Lee Echols, VP of Marketing and Communications, Northside Hospital

With the new sponsorship, Northside Hospital will be collaborating with the Piedmont Park Conservancy to use their mascot – Sammy the Stork – to interact and engage with children and families about health, fitness and other wellness facts and fun.

Learn more about the pool and how you can join us this summer! – https://www.piedmontpark.org/things-to-do/aquatics-pool/

Strength is Sexy…Time to Flex

In the past women had been taught to think that lifting weights will make you bulky or masculine.  It wasn’t until recently that we began to dabble in light toning and strength training.  The beauty of strength training is that you are always in control of how and what you want to look like.  It is important to have a systematic way of strength training that is both sustainable and safe.  Systematic, safe weight training means lifting an appropriate amount of weight while applying the proper repetitions through the full range of motion.  This is how my clients and class will move into weight lifting in the coming month.  I encourage everyone to take a reputable fitness class or work with a certified fitness trainer to ensure a proper training protocol when doing strength training.  In the meantime, here are some tips for the proper way to begin a strength training program with weights:

  1. Begin with light weights, high repetitions and full range of motion. Moving through the exercise with weights in the full range of motion is how to prep the ligaments, joints and tendons.
  2. All workouts should be full-body.  Encompassing low-body, upper-body and abdominal work.
  3. Back and Biceps, Chest and Triceps. Don’t forget legs and core. Although I advocate full-body workouts be specific as to how you group your exercises.
  4. The heart is a muscle to. Begin or end your workout with some form of exercise that is solely to increase your heart-rate, i.e a pre-workout run, 20 minutes on the bike after etc.
  5. Slightly increase either in volume of intensity every 3 to 4 weeks.  This is sure you are accomplishing steady gains.

Begin your strength journey with the Piedmont Park Conservancy and Love You Healthy’s LIFT classes! Learn More

Guest Post by Saidah Jones, Love You Healthy

Four of the Best Fall Foliage Spots at Piedmont Park

UPDATE – November 6: Leaves are peaking! Visit Piedmont Park for that awesome fall photo and use #PiedmontParkProud when posting on social!

September 22 marked the first day of autumn, and we’re excited! During this season, plenty of fall activities occur. Families pose for holiday photos in front of red mountains. Children dive in large piles of crunchy yellow leaves for sport and contest. Couples partake in a picnic under the perfect orange-leafed tree. Others simply enjoy watching the leaves transform color, which they can easily observe at Piedmont Park. With that said, here are a few main areas that the Piedmont Park Conservancy recommends to view the fall foliage.

Piedmont Park in Fall

For one, the 14th Street gate near the Piedmont Driving Club is a popular location to watch the leaves change, according to Mark Nelson, the Director of Operations for the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

“We’ve got some large gingko trees that have a beautiful fall color,” Nelson says. “They turn bright yellow. When you have a nice clear day and that sun shines on those trees, it puts a yellow glow on the ground. A lot of people like taking photos under that tree.”

Nelson guesses that the gingko tree will probably turn quickly at the end of October, only lasting a few days.

Gingko Tree’s Leaves Changing

Gingko Tree’s Leaves Changing

Park Drive bridge, which is above the dog park and by the Meadow, is another location where visitors can watch the leaves change.

“You have a couple of bald cypress,” Nelson says. “You have red dawns and redwoods. They turn a really brilliant rust color. The bald cypress are in the lake, and the red dawns are behind it. They look like the same tree, but they’re not. If you come down Park Drive, on the left-hand side, just before you get to the garden and beehives, there’s a hickory that turns bright yellow. It’s really beautiful.”

Red Dawn Trees Along Lake Clara Meer

Oak Hill and the Active Oval are two more go-to spots for this activity.

“If you get up on Oak Hill and stand at the top, looking down toward the lake, you can see a lot of different colors, especially all the trees that surround the lake,” Nelson says. “It’s a nice area to look at fall colors, too. If you’re standing in the Active Oval and you look toward the city, you can see a lot of fall colors there, too.”

Pignut Hickory on Oak Hill

Nelson mentions the leaves aren’t changing as of yet. Perhaps the leaves may turn the first week of November.

“We’ve had such dry weather here in September leading into October,” he says. “They’re kind of late right now falling; we hadn’t had the cold temperatures yet for them to turn. However, we recently had a few cold mornings and cold evenings that tend to turn the leaves quicker. This week, I think we’ll get to see quite a few leaves turn color.”

He also lists a variety of trees to watch for during the fall, such as dogwoods that turn rich red and sugar maples that change to a vivid orange-yellow.

Sugar Maple Leaves

Red Maple Trees

“Blackgum trees turn a bright red,” Nelson says. “October glories are a red-orange color or a red-sunset. We have all kinds of oaks that have different colors to them. They kind of have more of a red tint to them. Green ash turn a really beautiful yellow.”

Director of Operations Mark Nelson

With over 115 tree varieties, residents and Atlanta visitors can visit Piedmont Park to submerse themselves in vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges that will awe them at every turn. As Nelson reminds us, “If you live in the city and don’t see a lot of trees, then you can come to Piedmont Park and see them.”

Tag Piedmont Park on Instagram @piedmontpark of your latest fall photos. Also, check out Piedmont Parks’s self-guided tree tour.

UPDATE – November 6: Leaves are peaking! Visit Piedmont Park for that awesome fall photo and use #PiedmontParkProud when posting on social!

Guest Post by Annierra Matthews

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