Prairies, Lakes, Islands and Hammocks

Within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, there are several habitats contained within one “swamp” ecosystem: lakes, prairies, hammocks and island forests. With such a variety, all day paddling does not become monotonous or boring. ​The open lakes leave one out in full sun with expansive views all around; then the lakes collapse into narrow channelsContinue reading “Prairies, Lakes, Islands and Hammocks”

Walk Across on Their Heads

A favorite passage from William Bartram’s Travels,​ published in 1791: “IT was by this time dusk; and the alligators had nearly ceased their roar, when I was again alarmed by a tumultuous noise that seemed to be in my harbour, and therefore engaged my immediate attention. Returning to my camp I found it undisturbed, and thenContinue reading “Walk Across on Their Heads”

The Same Baby Gators?

A passage from my Okefenokee journal from March 2017 after coming upon a pod of juvenile alligators: At 9:50 AM, we reached the Middle Fork Junction and headed north on the Suwannee River up the red trail through beautiful channels of Spatterdock and Neverwet. We had made this journey in 2015 and marked in theContinue reading “The Same Baby Gators?”

Little Houses on the Prairies

AN EXCERPT FROM SUWANNEE RIVER, STRANGE GREEN LAND BY CECILE HULSE MATSCHAT, 1938. “​The prairies – the swamp folk’s name for the open flooded marshes – are filled with a tropical luxuriance of water plants and resemble wide grassy meadows. They are dotted with wooded islets, commonly called ‘houses’ because they have enough dry land to furnishContinue reading “Little Houses on the Prairies”

DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS!!!

Throughout the Stephen C Foster campground in the Okefenokee Swamp, there are signs warning against the feeding of wildlife. These warnings are no joke. It is now commonly known (hopefully) the dangers of pitching handouts to wildlife. Feeding of bears and alligators causes them to associate humans with food, and that can lead to futureContinue reading “DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS!!!”

Okefenokee Stephen C Foster Georgia State Park

The Stephen C. Foster State Park on Jones Island comprises a very small portion within the entire National Wildlife Refuge. The park was named after Stephen Collins Foster (July 4, 1826 – January 13, 1864), known as “the father of American music.” He was an American songwriter primarily known for his parlor and minstrel music;Continue reading “Okefenokee Stephen C Foster Georgia State Park”

Distant Heavy Thunder

An excerpt from William Bartram’s Travels​ published in 1791. “BUT what is yet more surprising to a stranger, is the incredible loud and terrifying roar, which they are capable of making, especially in the spring season, their breeding time; it most resembles very heavy distant thunder, not only shaking the air and waters, but causing theContinue reading “Distant Heavy Thunder”

The Chirp

A 2015 encounter with a mother alligator and her babies in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge reminded me of the first time I heard that “chirp” in the wild… January, 1997 – ​A shallow, circular pond reflected the tall Longleaf Pines that lined its perimeter. A solitary, sluggish alligator floated on the waters, too coldContinue reading “The Chirp”

Okefenokee Alligator Farm?

Before becoming protected in the 1960’s, alligators were hunted to near extinction for their skins. The following is a headline from an 1875 newspaper. Thankfully the “Okefenokee Alligator Farm” vision never became a reality, for there probably would have been only a lot of “harvesting” and very little management. The Galveston News thinks alligator skinsContinue reading “Okefenokee Alligator Farm?”

Where are the Birds?

An excerpt from my March 11, 2015 Okefenokee nature journal: Wednesday, 9:20 AM – At the onset of the pontoon boat tour, our guide had asked us if there was anything in particular we wished to see. Of course, one lady ejected, “A BIG GATOR!” I more quietly let it be known that we wantedContinue reading “Where are the Birds?”