Sophie’s Yawn

An Okefenokee evening entry from my March 5, 2017 journal:

An evening yawn from “Sophie”, the resident alligator of the Stephen C Foster State Park; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Georgia. March 5, 2017. ©

Sunday, 6:14 PM – Nine hours on the canoe trails of the Okefenokee Swamp! Nine continuous hours in the canoe without a break to stretch our legs or use the bathroom. Nine hours of pulling on the paddles in the mid-day sun. Tiring, but I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything.

After a there-and-back-again paddle to the Sill, which included the treacherous navigation through the Narrows and our upstream struggle on Mixon’s Hammock, we made it back to Billy’s Lake toward evening. Back to calm waters and the serenity of roosting Cormorants, drumming Pileated Woodpeckers, and alligators attempting to soak in the last rays of the setting sun. The daylight was beginning to fade, the trolling motor battery was beginning to fade, and we were beginning to fade. But we arrived before dark. A full day on the blackwater swamp.​

Double-crested Cormorants perched high above Billy’s Lake in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 5, 2017. © Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at

Back at Stephen C Foster base camp, we cooked our hotdogs over the fire pit, we strolled the boardwalk, and visited a spell with Sophie. “Sophie” has been at the Stephen C Foster boat ramp every time we have visited. She’s been there many years and has filled that channel with babies each year. My daughter and I typically end each day in the swamp by saying goodnight to “Sophie”. While standing off to the side and admiring her for a few minutes, I caught her in a yawn.

Yawning had caught up with us as well. We spent the last hours of the evening listening to the Barred Owls call beyond the reaches of light from our camp fire, and then retired after a full day of paddling. I love it here!

Alligator iNaturalist observation:

Cormorant iNaturalist observation:

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m conservation photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

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