Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dry Swamp

The old-growth swamp at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest is dry except for water trapped in the various holes like Goodson Lake.  No significant rain has fallen in the last two months and any water that did not drain into the Edisto River has evaporated or been drawn into the thirsty vegetation.  Muddy remnants of the numerous creek channels have cracked open as moisture continues to escape.

Aquatic organisms in ever-diminishing pools of water become easy prey or they become stranded on the mud.  As the summer campers made their way to Goodson Lake, we saw an Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) scavenging pieces of a large fish left behind by another predator.

Although the American Alligator in Goodson Lake is not in danger of losing its watery habitat, the lower levels have altered its basking sites.  Though normally not seen close to the observation tower, the summer campers caught the alligator basking directly across from the tower on a partially-submerged log.

Elsewhere in the swamp, wildlife are doing what they can to survive the dry, hot (100+F) conditions.

 Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)

Eventually, the rains will return and Four Holes Swamp will look more like a swamp.

Images by Mark Musselman

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