Monday, March 31, 2008
The fragrant flowers appear before the leaves and are not as robust as the non-native Asian varieties found throughout Lowcountry gardens. All parts of the Wild Azalea are poisonous if ingested. Insects appear to be the main pollinator, though Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) likey dip into the long flowers as they arrive back from migration.
Images by Mark Musselman
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Joe's video can be seen here. The 2008 Audubon South Carolina photography contest rules and entry form are posted on our webpage.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Last month's National Geographic Magazine article on Matsuo Basho, Japan's haiku master who set off into Japan's backcountry, got us thinking in 5-7-5 syllables about our own backcountry.
The moving water in Four Holes Swamp often surprises visitors to the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. There is an expectation that the water is simply filling a low-lying area like a puddle in the yard. Even though there is no river flooding Four Holes Swamp, the water draining from the land within its watershed is constantly moving toward the Edisto River and entering just upstream from Givhans State Park. Four Holes Swamp is like a giant bathtub with the drain always open. If rain did not add water to the tub, the swamp would eventually dry.
Besides adding clean water (the swamp acts like a water filter) to the Edisto River, the moving water is a deterrent to biting insects like mosquitoes, which do not like to lay their eggs in such conditions. The moving water also flushes from the swamp most of the organic material that falls from the trees that help make a swamp (a flooded FOREST) a swamp. This keeps the bottom from becoming feet thick in decaying material and prevents the swamp from smelling foul from stagnant water and decomposition gasses.
The image shows a variety of materials that have fallen from the swamp's trees, including pine pollen, red maple seeds, and leaves. A log in the water allows water to flow beneath, but it acts as a skimmer preventing any floating material from continuing downstream. In many places while the floating material is delayed (until the water level rises over the log or the water level drops below the log) it appears as a timeline for springtime's (in order of appearance) cast of characters. Pine pollen, followed by debris the oaks and oily cypress sap with the bits of green leaves dropped by hungry tent caterpillars waiting in the wings for Act II.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
We've discovered where the Easter Bunny rests before his big night of hiding eggs. He has a nice hollow log in a secluded spot just off the boardwalk near #10 at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. There's nothing better than a virgin, old-growth forest to offer some peace and quiet before all the activity of Easter Sunday.
A little known fact, the Easter Bunny is actually a Marsh Rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris). As such, he is a very good swimmer and had no problem finding his hollow log surrounding by water in the middle of the swamp. Although nocturnal(obviously!), the Easter Bunny was like many of us today in that he could not resist going outside and enjoying the warmth of the springtime sun!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Images by Mark Musselman
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Some of the Flowering Dogwoods are indeed flowering along with Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron canescens). We also found Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens) already with blossoms and fruit from last season alongside Common Blue Violet (Viola papilionacea). The Yellow (Tulip) Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), the Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia), Horse Sugar (Symplocos tinctoria) (white flower in image below), the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) are some of the trees currently in flower.
The Eastern Redbud is also known as the Judas-tree. From A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina (R. Porcher and D. Rayner): Redbud is one of the most popular native trees in cultivation. It is an understoroy tree whose trunk is too small to be commercially important. The flowers have an acidlike flavor and are put into salads. Also, the flower buds can be pickled. The buds, flowers and young pods are good when fried in butter or made into fritters.
The common name, Judas-tree, is sometimes transferred to the eastern redbud from the related species of the Mediterranean (Cecis siliquastrum), the tree on which Judas hanged himself. Legend states that the flowers were white but turned to red either with shame or from the drops of blood shed by Jesus.
Images by Mark Musselman
Monday, March 17, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Images by Brad Dalton
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Images by Mark Musselman
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Stono River inlet at the southern tip of Folly Beach is well known by bird watchers as good area to observe wintering and migrating shorebirds. Sunday’s outing proved to be just as good as anticipated. Upon reaching the mud flats, Jeff observed a couple hundred shorebirds feeding in a large flock among the mud flats and oysters. Many of the shorebirds were Dunlin, but there were also smaller numbers of Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson’s Plover, Willet, American Oystercatcher, and Greater Yellowlegs.
The flock of shorebirds was acting unusually skittish though. Every 3-4 minutes they would erupt into the air, fly around in a circle over the Stono River, only to return to the spot only moments later. Usually this kind of behavior is exhibited when a predator is lurking nearby. Suspicions were confirmed when suddenly a small, dark falcon with heavily streaked undersides came zipping through the shorebird flock. The falcon was a Merlin, a smaller cousin of the Peregrine Falcon, both of which love to prey on shorebirds! Although the Merlin returned to strafe the shorebirds about 30 minutes later, there was no success for the predator that day. To put a nice finishing touch on the evening, three Black Skimmers flew by low over the water skimming for fish.
To reserve your spot, visit http://www.ccprc.com or call 843-795-4FUN (4386) and reference course #18510. Be sure to register quickly though because there are only 10 spots left.
Walks will be held on the second Friday of every month, so if you miss this month please join us for the April or May walk. The program will be co-lead by Jeff Mollenhauer and the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission’s Interpretive Naturalist, Keith McCullough. There is no cost for the walk, but there is $7.00 parking fee to enter the county park. Advanced registration is required and space is limited. If you have any questions, please contact Jeff Mollenhauer at email@example.com or 843-462-2150.
Images by Jeff Mollenhauer
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Another bus full of kindergarten students was heading east on US Hwy 78 and was struck by an oncoming vehicle. The driver of that vehicle was apparently hurt, but the kids on the bus are reported to be fine. However, no traffic was allowed to pass along that stretch of US Hwy 78. The satellite image shows in yellow the point to which the College Park Elementary students traveled before reaching the roadblock. The pink route shows what they had to do (back to I-26, west to exit #187, into Harleyville, east on US Hwy 178) to find a way around the accident and across the swamp to Beidler Forest.
Although the name "Four Holes Swamp" has been on maps since the Revolutionary War, the significance of the four holes (deep spots in the swamp) or their location is lost to history. However, Four Holes Swamp was a significant impediment to travel in those days. Not only did the swamp have its name alone annotated on these early maps, but the boundaries of the entire swamp were duely noted. In those days, it wasn't speeding vehicles that caused delays along the road, it was speeding cannonballs! (see the sign)