9.20.2009

Into the Swamp

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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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In other spots they were just hanging out on trees or cypress knees. Pretty cool.
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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.

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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...

12 comments:

woverman said...

Where are you going on vacation? We're headed up to the mountains for fall break.

swamp4me said...

woverman,
Vacation will be spent at home this year. We had hoped to make a trip to Maine, but things just didn't work out. I don't mind a "stay-cation" though. It will give us a chance to do some more landscaping and other house-type things that we've been too busy to do over the summer. Have fun up in the mountains!

woverman said...

Stay-cations are good too! You won't believe it... we'll actually be camping out two nights along the parkway!

swamp4me said...

woverman,
You'd better behave while you're camping or I'll come and throw spiders in your tent! (Yes, I know you weren't in that tent)

Carol said...

Enjoyed the trip through the swamp..guess I need to look for those fishing spiders...not real fond of spiders. They remind me of the ones that scoot through the house once in awhile..too big for me to enjoy when inside.

www.riverwildlife.blogspot.com

jason said...

The spider with the egg sac is stunning! One learns not to mess with a mother when she's tending her young...

woverman said...

Wow... I didn't even remember that! Haha!

sweet bay said...

Great shot of the alligator! The fishing spider on the base of the tree reminds me of the big Wolf Spiders that hunt for the horseflies by the barn. I have Pickerelweed in my garden but how nice it must be to see it growing in the wild.

swamp4me said...

Carol,
Spiders tend to be under-appreciated. They really are quite interesting to watch though. When the big ones get in the house we have to hustle to get them out or the cats will kill them!

jason,
She seemed quite protective of her egg case - a very devoted mother!

woverman,
That trip is forever etched in my memory! ;)

sweet bay,
The gator was quite cooperative. I don't think he wanted to give up his sunning spot! I never thought of pickerelweed as a garden plant -- I bet it adds a nice touch, though.

Ellen Rathbone said...

What a great trip through the swamp! Thanks for sharing the paddle with us.

Trillium said...

And now for something a little different! Swamps rock! I don't have much chance to visit that ecosystem so really enjoyed your words and images.

woverman said...

When you get a chance could there be some pictures added of the new visitor center at the home swamp? :-D