Monday, June 23, 2008

Swamp Transformations

There have been some spectacular transformations at the swamp this week! The lack of rain caused the swamp to be dry along the boardwalk except for the hole that is Goodson Lake at the end of the boardwalk. The canoeing activity on summer camp's Friday schedule looked in doubt (still a few openings in week #2 and #3). However, the nearly 5" of rain that fell yesterday afternoon upon the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest has transformed the swamp into wetland with a 1-foot deep sheet of water. Water is lapping at the access to the "hollow tree" (a.k.a. the bat tree). That brings us to transformation #2.

Last Thursday, lightning struck another hollow Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) tree and caught it on fire (see previous log). Today, while showing another pair of Santee Cooper interns around the boardwalk, guests were found to be residing inside the hollow tree at #19. The tree is sometimes referred to as the "bat tree," but there aren't any bats in the hollow cypress. That is until today. Today, there are dozens of endangered Eastern Big-eared Bats (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) seeking daytime shelter in the hollow, yet living, cypress. The species' range closely approximates the historical range of the great cypress swamps.
As those swamps have disappeared (another reason to visit the Francis Beidler Forest and see a cypress swamp unmolested by humans), so to have the Eastern Big-eared Bat. It's possible that the bats now residing in the "bat tree" were previously residents of the nearby hollow cypress that burned last Thursday...they simply relocated sans U-haul.

Images by Mark Musselman

No comments: