I cannot believe it has taken a solid week to get the rest of the photos from our paddle posted. Our internet connection has been quite sketchy and unpredictable this past week, leading to some massive frustrations. It seems to be cooperating a little better this morning...
Beyond the upper end of the millpond lies the swamp. It is one of our favorite places to paddle, water levels permitting. I always like to have a full day to explore -- I hate to feel rushed when I enter the swamp.
As we entered, blue pickerel weed and bright red cardinal flower greeted us. It is past peak bloom time for these flowers, so it was a treat to see them.
At the base of a beaver lodge we spied a shed snake skin. It still had the tail section attached, enabling us to determine that it was from a venomous snake. Venomous snakes have an undivided anal plate (the scute that covers the opening to the cloaca) and undivided subcaudals (tail scutes). In non-venomous snakes, the anal plate and tail scutes are paired.
A view of the channel that runs through the swamp. You have to be careful that you follow the main channel -- there are plenty of false ones to trip you up.
There is something everywhere you look in the swamp. From birds in the trees to insects and spiders in the herbaceous vegetation. We found one spot that was full of fishing spiders, some guarding egg cases.
In other spots they were just hanging out on trees or cypress knees. Pretty cool.
We spent as much time in the swamp as we could, but eventually we had to turn around and head back out onto the pond. Not long after we re-entered the upper pond we were greeted by our second gator of the day. It was stretched out amidst some lily pads, soaking in the last sunrays of the day. It seemed quite unconcerned as we glided past. It was busy thinking gator thoughts, I guess.
That's it for now. Hopefully I'll make it out to some interesting places during my vacation in October. Speaking of vacation, our son left on his early this morning. He is headed to Beijing for nine days. And yes, I do mean China...