Bradford Torrey’s “Water Turkey Contortionist”

An excerpt from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1895 book, A Florida Sketch-Book: “At another time, on the same stake, sat some dark, strange-looking object. The opera-glass showed it at once to be a large bird sitting with its back toward me, and holding its wings uplifted in the familiar heraldic, e-pluribus-unum attitude of our American spread-eagle; but evenContinue reading “Bradford Torrey’s “Water Turkey Contortionist””

Okefenokee Squirrels and Hawks

A passage from my March 5, 2017 Okefenokee journal: Sunday, 9:04 AM – ​Another bright, blue calm morning on Billy’s Lake as we slowly paddle westward for a day up the brown trail to The Sill. Passing on close to the edge of the lake, a funny acting Eastern Gray Squirrel has himself pressed tightly flatContinue reading “Okefenokee Squirrels and Hawks”

The Narrows

Between the open skies of Billy’s Lake and the prairie landscape of Mixon’s Hammock lies a twisting, constricted canoe trail called “The Narrows”. The sky overhead is darkened by Black Gum, Cypress, Bay, Red Maple and Dahoon Holly. The eye-level view left and right is overcrowded by Titi, Hurrah Bush and other shrubs. Unless theContinue reading “The Narrows”

Meeting Sophie the Stephen C Foster Resident Alligator

“Sophie” is the resident alligator of Stephen C Foster State Park. She has been out there patrolling the waters on every one of our Okefenokee visits, and populates the boat launch with baby gators. My nature journal from March 10, 2015 describes our first meeting with Sophie: Tuesday, 6:29 PM – We failed to seeContinue reading “Meeting Sophie the Stephen C Foster Resident Alligator”

Alligator Right-of-Way

Excerpt from my March 12, 2015 Okefenokee nature journal. As one leaves the more open waters of Billy’s or Minnie’s Lakes in the Okefenokee and enters the cypress forests and hammocks, the channels become considerably narrower. While there aren’t as many alligators in these tighter areas, occasionally a large specimen might be patrolling the water.Continue reading “Alligator Right-of-Way”

Okefenokee Tiger Moth Caterpillar

The Okefenokee blackwater is decorated in the spring with the golden fingers and bright green plumes of the Golden Club plant (Orontium aquaticum). The waxy leaves are shed water droplets and always seem dry, hence the name “Neverwet.” ​ As I had my canoe anchored on a bed of bonnet lilies to photograph some GoldenContinue reading “Okefenokee Tiger Moth Caterpillar”

“It’s the poisonousest snake there is!”

A humorous story from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1894 book, A Florida Sketch-Book. (It would be even more humorous if ignorant snake killing wasn’t still common.) “It was a ‘copper-bellied moccasin,’ he declared, whatever that may be, and was worse than a rattlesnake.” A few minutes later, when, as the boat was grazing the reeds, IContinue reading ““It’s the poisonousest snake there is!””

Bugaboo Island Deer

Excerpt from the 1926 book History of the Okefenokee, by Hamp Mizell and AS McQueen: “When Bugaboo Island was first discovered it was then traversed by various trails and paths made by the numerous wild animals on this particular island. There were quite a lot of deer on this island, and it is said by theContinue reading “Bugaboo Island Deer”

I Love You Too, Dad

Why is the Okefenokee so dear to me? Since my college days I loved the swamp, alligators, snakes, etc. But the Okefenokee has grown so fond in my heart because of the bonding moments I’ve shared with my daughter canoeing and camping there. Below is an excerpt from my March 2015 nature journal describing why IContinue reading “I Love You Too, Dad”

Okefenokee Watersnake Fight

I was paddling up the beautiful Suwannee, a blackwater river that is born within, and meanders throughout, the Okefenokee Swamp. Being overcast and cool, it was slow day for reptiles… as slow as the current that carried my canoe along. But on a sudden, I had that feeling. Birders know that feeling… a sense thatContinue reading “Okefenokee Watersnake Fight”