Friday, August 14, 2009

Low Water

Today's rain, especially in the upper portion of the Four Holes Swamp watershed, will help boost the water level along the boardwalk at Audubon's Francis Beidler Forest. We took some images of the low water during yesterday's Project PROTHO observation walk.

Although the Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) are becoming more difficult to locate, we did see several unbanded males along with two of the banded birds (A052 and A047). Both birds had little interest in us and remained in the area only long enough for us to make positive identifications.

Later, we saw the only snake of the day. The small Brown Water Snake (Nerodia taxispilota) was only partially out of the hollow cypress knee that likely is its shelter during the night. Brown Water Snakes are non-venomous and dine on fish, including large catfish once the snake has reached adult size.

Just beyond the second rain shelter, we spied a Barred Owl (Strix varia) perched on the boardwalk handrail. Based on its size, we suspect it to be one of the owls hatched this season. From its perch on the boardwalk or later on a branch over the water, the owl can see crayfish crawling under the shallow water. The crayfish has no chance once the owl's powerful talons penetrate its exoskeleton.

Although today's rains have kept us inside, the few hearty visitors that have toured the boardwalk have reported seeing a fawn, a cottonmouth, the alligator, a variety of small birds, several White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), and a Barred Owl.

Images by Mark Musselman

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