Monday, March 13, 2006

Okefenokee Trip: March 11 - 13

Day 1: Kingfisher Landing to Maul Hammock
Departing from Kingfisher Saturday morning. The weather was very good all three days -- cool at night and in the mornings, mostly clear and sunny during the day. Monday morning was a little windy, but that felt good too. We had an almost-full moon both nights which provided enough visibility for moonlight paddles.
Along the way -- I think this is a prairie, although I don't always understand the difference between hammocks and prairies. We saw some hawks and mockingbirds in areas like this, and a few prothonotary warblers.
A little blue heron in Maul Hammock Lake. We also heard the resident sandhill cranes squawking every now and then, and in the morning some of us saw a pair in flight.
The Maul Hammock platform. Carol made a valiant effort to explain to me how bladderworts work. Day 2: Maul Hammock to Big Water
Another 10 -11 mile paddle. Steve described one winding stretch as a "chicane," a very good word.
Then we hit "Big Water."
Big Water Shelter.The Big Water Shelter resident gator, dubbed Darth Gator by previous shelter people, hung around the whole time we were there, joined at one point by a pal. At first he was kind of intimidating, but then we realized that he might be the reason why there were no apparent raccoons. In fact, he was more like a panhandler than a threat, which was kind of sad. Day 3: Big Water to Stephen Foster, with a side trip to Billy's Island.
It was a beautiful morning for a paddle.
Phil and Steve paddling the Middle Fork of the Suwannee River.
Carol and Tom, Matt and Wes, and Carey at Billy's Island.
Dick, upon arrival at Stephen Foster.
Nature Bits
Golden Club in bloom.
Spatterdock, just beginning to come out. Their stems, which look like floating logs, have the texture of alligator skin.
Not a great photo of bladderwort, but the reflections are kind of cool. Carol gave us a demonstration of how the little bladders work, which was supplemented by a good explanation in Taylor Schoettle's A Naturalists Guide to the Okefenokee Swamp.
Hurrah Bush in bloom.Climbing Heath. At first I thought this was part of the cypress tree because it appeared to be growing out of it, but Schoettle says that the heath stem is enclosed in the bark of the tree and can climb up to 40 feet high, a tree-climbing method that has no parallel. At this time of year, Climbing Heath has little white bell-shaped flowers. Dahoon Holly. Fernage.
The Gators (Lisa, DON'T GO FARTHER!)
We saw lots of gators, both on logs and cruising around in the water. There was a dearth of turtles for some reason, although we managed to spot a few. They are much more shy than gators and I could never get a photo of one.
Here's a cute little guy.Now look behind him!


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