Thursday, March 20, 2008

St. Patrick Visited the Swamp

Apparently, St. Patrick made a visit to the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest. Three groups from the Charleston County School of the Arts went around the boardwalk today and not a single snake was spotted! Some might say that is great news, but not so the visiting 6th graders.

With warm temperatures last night and a bright and quickly-warming morning, we expected to see a bumper crop of reptiles eager to get their start into the new spring season. Although we did not see any snakes, we did catch an eyeful of reptile behavior. Two male Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) battled for a larger female, though it was tough to declare the remaining male the winner as the female repeated attempted to bite his neck and head as copulation transpired. At one point the female had the male fully by the throat. Love hurts! Later, a pair of Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) were caught mating, but without the WWF theatrics.

The Great Egret (Ardea albus) in the image was alone, but sporting the breeding plummage that nearly brought about its demise due to demand from the fashion industry. The Audubon Society can trace its beginnings to the campaign to end this fashion-driven slaughter of birds.

Images by Mark Musselman

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