Thursday, September 08, 2011

Migration Is On!

Today, while walking the 1.75-mile boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, we spotted a variety of animals, including some migrating birds.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo announced our presence into the swamp, but numerous other bird species picked up the chorus as we approached the Meeting Tree.

A brilliantly-colored male American Redstart welcomed us to the ancient Bald Cypress and continued the show at eye level just off the boardwalk for over thirty seconds.  Flaring his tail as he inspected the leaves and branches, the burnt orange and black contrasted bright green, sun-washed leaves.  Overhead, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parulas, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers called or sang as they moved about in search of food.

Approaching Goodson Lake, the seemingly angry chatter of a Belted Kingfisher let the alligator and Yellow-bellied Sliders know that we were approaching.  In the distance, Pileated Woodpeckers called loudly as Barred Owls hooted and hollered to each other.  As we departed the lake, a White-tailed Deer was surprised by the sound of our boots crushing the dry leaves on the boardwalk.  Although the doe moved away from us, we caught up with her as our paths crossed near #12.  The doe moved up the creek channel browsing indiscriminately (at least to us) on green vegetation growing in the dry areas of the swamp or hanging from low tree branches.  At one point, the doe browsed Resurrection Fern from the trunk of a Tupelo Gum.  With some type of plant hanging from the right side of her mouth, the doe froze and stared back toward the T of the boardwalk.  Leaves could be heard rustling, but no other deer or predator could be seen.  Nevertheless, the doe remained on alert!  Apparently, just as we did, the doe saw the high-domed, male Eastern Box Turtle crawling through the leaves and relaxed with her snack.  As the doe continued up the creek channel, we continued back to the nature center.

Our walk back was uneventful except for a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks engaged in a war on silence.

As the month progresses, we will continue to see migrating birds stopping by the old-growth swamp for a rest and a bite to eat!

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