Obviously, the 1.75-mile boardwalk through the virgin, old-growth cypress-tupelo swamp is a big part of any visit to the Francis Beidler Forest. Who doesn't want to see trees that average 1000 years old. Let's see...231 carry the 2, add...that's almost 5 times as long as this country has existed! Along the boardwalk we saw the ubiquitous (we're not really sure what that means, but we see it everywhere) Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), including several nest sites. We saw plenty of snakes, which always remain safely off the boardwalk, as well as the resident alligator of Goodsen Lake. Additionally, we saw a Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina), a Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), two Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), a Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), and a Barred Owl (Strix varia) hunting crayfish.
After the boardwalk, the plan was to have the group tried their hands at making plaster casts of wildlife tracks. The low water level of late has provided ample muddy opportunities for wildlife to leave their tracks. However, the multitude of sightings along the boardwalk forced a postponement of the plaster cast activity. Such is life in the swamp!
Images by Mark Musselman