Thursday, January 17, 2013

Warm Weather Creatures

At the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, the recent spell of warm weather has increase the activity of more than winter-weary humans!  In the last week, we have spied snakes soaking up the sun's rays and eschewing their cold-weather sanctuaries.  All three of the snakes were well inside the swamp and likely using as dens the hollow logs upon which they were basking.

Banded Water Snake - Mark Musselman
Eastern Cottonmouth - Mark Musselman
Eastern Cottonmouth - Mark Musselman
Beavers (Castor canadensis) have again become active near Goodson Lake.  They have been gnawing on the same Sweet Gum where, years ago, gnawing announced their return to the swamp.  Weather like this week could be dangerous for the beavers as the alligator in the nearby lake could decide that it need not wait for the warm days of March to digest a mammal meal.
Beaver Gnawing - Mark Musselman
Finally, the normally nocturnal Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) marched by the office window in the middle of the morning.  It was obvious to us that the eyesight and hearing of the opossum are not two of its strongest senses.  As we moved along the boardwalk to get ahead of the animal, the opossum was oblivious to our presence.  However, as it approached our position, it lifted its head, carefully smelled the air and then moved in another direction.  This occurred three times before we remained in place and let the opossum go under the boardwalk and wander off.

Opossum - Mark Musselman
Opossum - Mark Musselman
Boardwalk - Mark Musselman
We hope you and all the swamp creatures enjoyed the mid-winter-summer, because the cold front is pushing through as we type and the temperature is dropping steadily.

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