Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Young and the Restless

Today, we were leading the new seasonal naturalists around the boardwalk as they continue to orient themselves to the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. Although the water is gone from all but the deepest creek channels and holes and the mud has begun to crack, there is still plenty of life moving in the swamp. The mud alone told a story in the tracks of deer, raccoons, snakes, turtles, egrets, and opossums.

As soon as we reached the edge of the swamp, we spied a young Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) beneath the boardwalk. Near the interpretive sign for the swamp's snake species, two young Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) snakes were inspecting cypress knees in search of a meal (likely amphibian). Close by, a pair of Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) were in the process of creating young snapping turtles. Soon, the flash of a white tail caught our attention and a young White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Although the fawn's spots are fading, it wasn't aware enough to avoid us and walked beneath the boardwalk just to our front. Finally, we walked up on a pair of Marsh Rabbits (Sylvilagus palustris) grooming themselves in a patch of Dwarf Palmetto.

Well, those are plenty of references to the young, but what about the restless. The alligator at Goodson Lake normally spends the day motionless on a log or at the lake's edge. Today, the alligator patrolled restlessly back and forth across the lake. Maybe the alligator was hungry...young beware!

Images by Mark Musselman


Cindy O said...

I may have missed it in a previous post, but what is the criteria to be a seasonal naturalist at Francis Beidler Forest?

Swampy said...

You can find about our seasonal naturalist program at: