Thursday, August 14, 2008

Raining in the Swamp

Yesterday's rains did little to change the water level in the swamp near the boardwalk at the Francis Beidler Forest Audubon Center. In the coming days, rain that fell in Four Holes Swamp upstream from us may begin to fill in the low areas around the boardwalk as it moves slowly downstream to the Edisto River. Today, however, the swamp floor remains nearly dry with just a hint of moisture in the soil. Although, there has been rain of a different sort.

Walk along the 1.75-mile boardwalk and you cannot help but notice the thousands of green fruits littering the deck and swamp's dark soil. We know that the Palmetto Pride's Litter Buster hotline number is 1-877-7-LITTER, but who will we report? Which animal in the swamp is the scofflaw? We're on it! After being out of the office all week, we were itching for a reason to head out onto the boardwalk.

As it turned out, it was an open-and-shut case. Kyra Sedgwick (aka The Closer) has got nothing on us with respect to wrapping up a case. As the images show, the ubiquitous Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is responsible for chewing the end of the unripened Tupelo Gum (Nyssa aquatica) fruit, eating the seed embryo, and then discarding the remainder of the fruit to gravity's grip. They know where in the fruit to find the part they wish to eat, so the fruits show little damage on the whole. In reality, the damage is complete and the seed is incapable of producing a seedling tree.
Images by Mark Musselman

1 comment:

treen said...

Rainy season is wonderful event.