Thursday, May 31, 2012

Drought Buster?

The swamp along the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest was rapidly drying even though official summer is still weeks away.  That was before Rainy-day Beryl paid a visit!

The rain gauge at the nature center registered 6".  At Mallard Lake, an inadvertently upright canoe was almost filled to the brim!  Rain that fell in the watershed upstream from us will continue to flow by the boardwalk.  One main benefit of a wetland like a swamp is that it can absorb such a dramatic influx of water and slowly discharge it like an open drain on a bathtub, thereby preventing flooding damage downstream.

Water level gauge at Givhans Ferry State Park

Hopefully, higher water on the Edisto River will make it easier for us to conduct our Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) survey tomorrow on the stretch between Stokes Bridge and Mars Oldfield.

male Prothonotary Warbler - Mark Musselman

The beavers north of the boardwalk are certainly pleased with the additional water behind their dam.  They impound water for their own purposes, but plants, other wildlife, and humans benefit from their engineering.  Read in The Atlantic how beavers were reintroduced to areas in the West and how Washington is encouraging beavers to establish residence in an effort to slow the flow of freshwater into the ocean.

Note to researchers studying the effects of Hurricane Hugo at Beidler Forest:  If you are trying to determine what happened to tree #981, it's that shiny spot on top of the beaver lodge in the power line right-of-way.

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