Friday, January 18, 2008

Pine and Black Water

Boardwalk maintenance got us out of the office at the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest and into the swamp recently filled by rain. On the high ground between the nature center and the swamp edge, we caught the strong scent of pine sap that transported us back to the 1970s and Pop Warner football in Satellite Beach, FL. Back then "stickum" was allowed and, as the center, we used gobs of it. Although this weekend will see the big boys playing for the right to travel to the Super Bowl, there was no Audubon League football between the Warblers and the Hawks. The sap scent was the result of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus varius)versus the Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda).

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are woodpeckers that are winter residents to our area. They drill holes in a variety of tree species and then return to eat the oozing sap (basically, sugar) and the insects that are also attracted to that sap. The trees are generally unaffected by the woodpecker woundings, though some trees are drilled from the ground to crown. In a few short weeks, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) will return from their winter vacation in more southern latitudes and may drink from holes created by late-departing sapsuckers.

The remaining images show the swamp in winter with a fresh sheet of "black" water spread throughout reflecting the mossy buttresses of Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum). We'll let the images speak for themselves.

No comments: