Friday, May 15, 2009

Different View of Beidler Forest

Part of the beauty of the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest is that nothing is exactly the same. The Four Holes Swamp watershed drains like a bathtub into the Edisto River just upstream from the Givhans Ferry State Park, so the water level in the swamp is never static. The trees are mainly static (sometimes they fall), but viewing them from a different angle makes one a first-time visitor again. There are no cages, so the wildlife comes and goes as it pleases and may not reward visitors with a glimpse. All of this has come to pass this week.

The heavy rains that fell yesterday and today have transformed the area around the boardwalk from a rapidly-drying mudflat to a rapidly-moving, 1.5-mile wide ribbon of water flushing through the swamp. If crayfish could, they would rejoice as the ever-shrinking pools of water made them easy targets for a variety of predators. The added water also extends our canoeing season! Fortunately, today's deluge did not occur until the Rogersville City, TN students had cleared the boardwalk and boarded their buses for home.

Although we've walked the 1.75-mile boardwalk through the old-growth swamp hundreds, if not thousands, of times, we always see something different. Today, Mac Stone, seasonal naturalist and photographer, released his impressions of the Francis Beidler Forest. His video is a collection of images that he has taken during his brief time here this spring.

This week's wildlife sightings included the Eastern Cottonmouth killing the Red-bellied Water Snake described in Wednesday's blog, Barred Owls feeding their young near #15 along the boardwalk, Raccoons leaving a trail of crayfish carnage, and Prothonotary Warblers feeding chicks and building nests. Entering the data collected during Project PROTHO into our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software has begun to reveal the varying sizes of the nesting territories along the boardwalk. The territories out by Goodson Lake appear to be more desirable and are therefore smaller, while territories along the swamp's edge are considerably larger due to the lack of rivals.

Tomorrow, the National Audubon Society Board of Directors will have the opportunity to experience the wonders of Beidler Forest as they tour the boardwalk and enjoy a barbecue beneath the canopy!


Cindy O said...

I loved Matt Stone's video!

Swampy said...

I made a typo and used a previous seasonal naturalist's name.

The videographer is Mac Stone.