Friday, April 27, 2007

Lockett and Fennell

Fourth graders from Lockett Elementary (Orangeburg 4) and 3rd graders from Fennell Elementary (Hampton 1) visited the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest. The day was overcast but that did not inhibit the wildlife. Both groups saw a variety of animals.

The Prothonotary Warblers were bright and singing loudly along with other songbirds declaring their territory. Raccoons were seen peeking from a hollow log, a deer moved quietly under the boardwalk, and Barred Owls were observed catching and consuming crayfish. All five species of snakes in the swamp (Eastern Cottonmouth, Greenish Rat Snake, Red-bellied Water Snake, Banded Water Snake, and Brown Water Snake) were seen along with a Southern Copperhead that was swimming near the edge of the swamp. Numerous Eastern Mud Turtles were seen swimming while a large Yellow-bellied Slider was spotted basking on a log.

However, nothing could trump the excitement of a large Greenish Rat Snake (see image) that had ventured too far out onto a dead limb. The 3-foot snake fell approximately 15 feet and landed at the feet of the group as it stood on the platform at Goodson Lake. There was little doubt that the young snake was embarrassed by its unannounced "drop in." After the initial surprise, the group regain its composure and watched as the snake made its way up to the top of the handrail and explore its options for getting back into the trees. There was no additional charge for the show and excitement.

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