Friday, August 10, 2012

Forecast: Rain

The weathermen in the area have had it easy for the last two weeks.  "Tomorrow's forecast, hot followed by rain."  Although the rain makes it tricky to plan a dry trip around the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, it sure makes the old-growth swamp look pretty!

With the constant threat of a downpour, we left the camera in the nature center.  However, we did some things during the last week.  One of the first things we noticed as we reached the edge of the swamp was an unusual sound.  Think of a babbling brook in a mountainous setting.  The last time we checked, the Lowcountry is relatively flat with little here to be confused with a mountain.  On closer inspection with the binoculars, we could see that the large volume of rainwater trying to move downstream to the Edisto River was rushing over the top of the low beaver (Castor canadensis) dam. With a quarter of a mile of dam, there was plenty of water to create the sounds of a mountain stream.  The beavers care little of the water going over the top of the dam as their desired level of water behind the dam remains constant.  If the water level behind the dam begins to drop, the beavers will take action to repair any breaches or extend the ends up the slope where they tie into dry land.

Although the fawns (Odocoileus virginianus) have gotten larger and and more coordinated on their legs, they still cannot keep up with mom if danger appeared.  Therefore, the fawns continue to bed down alone while the doe browses.  Visitors often see a fawn in the #154-156 area of the boardwalk.

A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) remain in the area of Goodson Lake.  The difference in plumage between the adults and juveniles has made this bird the focus of numerous visitor questions.  It is now like playing "Name That Tune."  The visitor says, "We saw a bird by the lake that..." and we respond, "Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron."  It's like a superpower.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Mark Musselman

Other birds still around the boardwalk include, the Prothonotary Warlber (Protonotaria citrea) A012 spotted in the upland area by #110, Northern Parulas (Setophaga americana) singing, Louisiana Waterthrushes (Seiurus motacilla) along the swamp edge, Kentucky Warblers (Geothlypis formosa) and Hooded Warblers (Setophaga citrina) in the upland area near #111, Summer Tanagers (Piranga rubra) calling near #162, Mississippi Kites (Ictinia mississippiensis) calling south of #109, and at least one Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) chick hatched in the cigarette butt container nest by the front door.

As if on cue, it has begun to pour outside!

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