Friday, May 01, 2009

Lady's Island Garden Club and Nash Central HS

Ladies from the Lady's Island Garden Club arose early in the morning for the long drive and arrived at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest just after 9:00 am. The normal 2-hour walk around the 1.75-mile boardwalk through the old-growth, cypress-tupelo swamp stretched to three hours. Normally, students are in near revolt if the most important item on the agenda...lunch...has been delayed beyond 12:30 pm. However, today it was the guide whose stomach was sending urgent messages to the legs demanding an increase in forward motion!

The group saw plenty of Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea), three of the five species of snakes (including a yellow-colored Eastern Cottonmouth [Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus]), an alligator, Barred Owls (Strix varia) catching and eating crayfish, Bowfin in the shallow water, several species of turtles, skinks, and 1000-year-old trees. Additionally, the endless chorus of bird songs filled the cool swamp air. The ladies had plenty of stories to share with the group's members that opted out of the trip! Several were moved to donate on the spot to this weekend's Birdathon (see yesterday's post).

In the afternoon, students from Rocky Mount, NC's Nash Central High School arrived for their swamp experience. In addition to seeing all that the garden club group saw in the morning, one student group completed the "Swampy Snake Slam" by spotting all five of the snake species, including two missed by the guide. Good eyes! On the backside of the boardwalk where the Barred Owls were feeding in the morning, the students also caught a peek of an owlet out on a branch waiting to be feed. The curious look the owlet was giving the students from on high was the same look it was receiving from the crowd down low on the boardwalk. The walk ended with a look at a male Prothonotary Warbler (banded pink over light green) showing an unbanded female a possible nest site in the cavity of a small tree.

You can help the birds of Beidler Forest by donating the Birdathon or walking the boardwalk and observing banded Prothonotary Warblers and recording the data on a Project PROTHO observation sheet.

Images by Mark Musselman

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