2017 May 19 – Friday

Put-in  10:15 am, overcast throughout with occasional breaks of blue sky, incoming tide throughout, take out 2:45 pm.

The air was humid and warming, but a southerly breeze made the temperatures tolerable on the down river paddle with the tide still incoming.

The blooms are sporadic, except for the flowering of the arrow wood shrub, which can extend high in the understory like a small tree.

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The flowers from afar can be easily mistaken for rusty haw, but the rusty haw has glossy, thicker and darker green leaves and blooms a little after the main pinxter blooming season.

The other dominant flowering shrub is the swamp titi.

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There seem to be separate growing areas along the creek creating different zones of blooming time.  One pinxter azalea shrub still had remnants of blooms.  This has been the longest blooming season for pinxters since our observations in 2011.

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Coastal rose gentian continues to bloom along mossy banks.

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And some ogechee tupelo trees are blooming, although some also have drupes.  There were no honey beans seen, although the hives have been set out for several weeks on Rock Landing Road.

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Certain blooming plants seem to be appearing about the same time as they did in the last few years:  false dragonhead, pickerel weed, American elder or elderberry, swamp rose, button bush, southern arrowwood, narrowleaf primrose, clematis crispa, beauty berry, sweet bay, spatterdock.

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Green fly orchids continue to bloom and a spray of just buds indicates that this stand will be blooming for another month.

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The discovery of the trip was that Spanish moss has flowers!

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Mosses do not flower, but Spanish moss is a bromeliad.

Most of the blueberries bushes have been picked clean.  This year’s crop was generally very sweet; usually these tiny balls are tart.

Promising a heavy crop of muscadines, are grape buds throughout the creek.

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Perseus bay are also thick with bud.

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Apple snail eggs still continue to be laid.P1000153

Dragon flies and bluets are all over the creek, but hardly any butterflies.  Wasps are building nests, but no honey bees.

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The wasps on this nest in a mass of black berry canes bearing fruit stung me as I was trying to sample a ripe blackberry from the section below.  I felt a sting on the back of my left hand — the wasp penetrated my paddling globe.

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Not being able to get to the medicine kit which is in the hatch, I paddled to the bank to make a poultice of mud.  I wasn’t sure this would work — a Sumatra resident told me that he put mud when bitten by water moccasins.  I deduced it must draw out the venom, so my off-the-cuff remedy.  It didn’t work.  By the time I was able to get out of the kayak for lunch — over an hour later, I had difficulty removing my glove, the area around the sting had become swollen.  I couldn’t find the baking soda in my kit; but at trip’s end the swelling had normalized and at the end of the day it was gone.

Those black ready-to-eat blackberries remained on the bush for a bird or animal to eat.  Like the roses, the blackberries are sparse this year.

Juvenile alligators, like all young creatures, are curious.  This one did not avoid us, but as I stopped to take a photo, it cruised around the kayak — about 10 feet away, but in an arc.  It was not more than 4′ long.

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At the mouth of the creek, in a shallow bay, was the up-turned shell and still uneaten remnants of a very large turtle.

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Despite the southern breeze we were glad to be taking out.

The yellow flies were at the Womack Creek landing and in one narrow shaded section of the creek.  Unlike mosquitoes which will not follow you into the water, yellow flies will.  Deet can for short periods deter them, but they are persistent biting insects.

Summer is clearly here.

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2017 April 26 – Wednesday

Put-in 9:25 am, cloudy sky, outgoing tide, take-out 2:45.

The most notable item on this trip was the number of apple snail eggs we saw on the main creek and in some of the branches.  Also, the number of insects which were on flowers and plants.

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Apple snail eggs — since Friday, considerably more eggs on the creek.

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Solitary wasp building a nest and further along the swamp dogwood branch an egg case.

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A colony beginning on a dahoon holly branch.

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Long jaw orb weaver with a larvae.

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Honey bee on dahoon holly blossom.

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Black swallowtail on pinxter blossoms.

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Even the birds were active:  a pair of little blue herons, a male cardinal, the sound of the resident hawk, a single yellow prothonotary warbler, vultures flying overhead and other unidentifiable smaller birds.

No alligators were seen, no snakes spotted, a solitary cooter.

The pinxster azaleas continue blooming as do the swamp dogwoods.

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A few cross vines blossoms still blooming.

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And false indigo.

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Still to reach their peak of bloom are swamp ti-ti. swamp sweetbells, lizard’s tails,  false dragonheads, cow creek spider lily and ogeche tupelo.

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The rose family: swamp rose and blackberries have not bloomed well this year with the fewest blossoms we have ever seen since 2011.

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Newly blooming are coastal rose gentians and blue flag iris.

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And a few climbing aster blooming quite early.

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Soon to bloom are Southern arrow wood, sweet bay and perseus.

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and button bush.

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The tiny green fly orchids continue to bloom and on one tree there are two bloom buds which promise blossoms into June.

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And promising to bloom throughout summer are demure swamp leatherflower, clematis crispa, their vines entwining shrubs and plants throughout the creek.

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At Nick’s road campsite salvia continues to bloom.

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And a very early calling card for fall — a single leaf at that campsite prematurely decked in fall’s colors.

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The blueberries are bearing and the few blackberries seemed stunted.

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And increasing patches of spatterdock are blooming.

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Soon, the buzz of honeybees on the ogeche tupelo blossoms will form a backdrop of sound on that creek.   The bee hives on Rock Landing road have all been set out, protected from maurauding black bears with thin lines of electrically charged wires.

2017 April 21 – Friday

Put-in 9:55am, clear sky, high 60’s, incoming tide, take-out 3:30pm

Normally, during the month of April, we try to do at least a visit every two weeks.  Over 3 weeks have elapsed since our last observation.  Much has changed on the creek.

The azaleas have continued to bloom — one of the longest seasons of bloom we have seen since 2011.  The swamp dogwood is also still in bloom.  A few cross vines remain blooming.  The false indigo continues to bloom, but the wisteria which was not blooming in late March, bloomed quickly and went to seed quickly this year, just a few fading blossoms remaining.

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Azaleas, one or two bushes still with buds.

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Swamp dogwood (enlarged).

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American wisteria and false indigo, the top photo taken on the creek, on the bluff in front of the rest rooms at Womack Creek campground.

Cross vine, Virginia sweet spire, swamp ti-ti.

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Clematis crispa — leather flower continues to bloom as well as rusty haw.

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Newly blooming are cow creek spider lily, false dragonhead, rain lily, pineland pimpernel, narrowleaf primrose, lyreleaf sage, ogeche tupelo, lizard tail, pickerel weed, swamp sweetbells, muscadine, swamp rose and a small stand of green fly orchids.

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Cow creek spider lily.

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False dragonhead.

Rain lily, pineland pimpernel, narrow leaf primrose.

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Lyre leaf sage (salvia).

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Ogeche tupelo.

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Lizard Tail.

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Pickerel weed.

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Swamp sweet bells.

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Muscadine flower buds.

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Swamp rose are very sparse this year as are blackberry blossoms.  But even with few blossoms, the fragrance is noticeable.

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Green fly orchid.

And in the water, the spatterdock are finally blooming with increasing number of patches since 2011.

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A few candy root are still blooming at Nick’s Road campsite.

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Swallowtails on the azaleas and bumble bees on the roses.

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Long jawed orb weavers building nests.

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Black shouldered sprinleg dragonfly hitching a ride on the deck of the kayak.

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When we put-in the rain lily above was still in bud.  Upon return five hours later, it was bloomed, but over half eaten by eastern lubber grasshoppers.  Which were also on the creek.  This is the first year we have seen them in the plants along the creek, in the past a few were seen at the campsites.

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Apple snail deposits on branches and plant stems.

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Blueberries are ripening.  This year they are much sweeter than before, with some berries giving an intense blueberry flavor!

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American holly drupes,  fruiting much earlier this year.  Dahoon holly still in bud, yaupon holly already bloomed.

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Paddling upstream for a few yards beyond Nick’s Road campsite, this 4 foot snake, still to be identified was basking.

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The creek is rapidly preparing for summer.

2017 March 26 – Sunday

Put-in around 10am, overcast sky, low-mid 70’s, outgoing tide, slight wind, take out 12:15

This trip started at Nick’s Road campsite — we were leading a small group of Audubon paddlers, who were able to confirm that the hawk which nests in the upper branch is a red-shouldered hawk.   This hawk is not shown in our gallery because we have not been able to photograph it, and many of the other birds.  All photos on this blog have been taken on Womack Creek or the dry land around it.

We had examined closely overhanging brush and branches along the river yesterday looking for snakes, but could not find a single one.  Today, we were not expecting to see any, even though the day was warmer by a few degrees.

Trying to get a better close-up of this rusty haw, I didn’t see the brown snake which was sunning on a log in front of the shrub which I bumped in trying to get to photo. Most of the snakes on the river are slow, but this was quickly slithered into the water thus missed being photographed.  It looked like a brown water snake.

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Downriver, this banded water snake was sunning on a branch intertwined by vines, over the creek.   Unlike the other snake which I had inadvertently startled when I crashed into the log on which it was sunning, this snake stayed put.

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2017  March 25 – Saturday

Put-in:  12pm, partly cloudy sky, low 70’s, incoming tide, wind ~ 5-8 mph, take out 4:30pm

There was a distinct feel of spring in the air.  The air was scented possibly by the pinxter azaleas or fringe tree, the scent strong when the warm wind blew.   Starting out partly cloudy, there were intermittent periods of sun, enough to encourage a young alligator to take to a sandbank.  But not enough to encourage more cooters out on the exposed logs.

The colors of the creek were still spring — delicate light greens, pink and bronze hues of tree leaves.  Some ash trees were already deep green.  The tupelo was just starting to bud.

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The Walter’s viburnum blossoms which had dominated the shoreline with its small mounds of flowers were starting to seed and only a few fringe trees still had their blooms.

But the pinxter azaleas and cross vines are dominating the spring this year as did the Walter’s viburnum earlier.  Last year, cross vines blossoms were scarce. A few golden clubs plants are still blooming.  And on the floor, swamp buttercups continue to bloom, their petals reflecting sunlight.

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As in other years, the order of blooming does not seem consistent.  In full bloom are the false indigo — their first major show since 2011.

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Other blooming plants are Virginia sweetspire,

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Butterweed,

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Candy root,

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American holly,

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American snowbell,

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Swamp dogwood,

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Rusty haw,

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Clematis crispa,

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Blackberry,

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Fetterbush lyonia,

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Yaupon holly.

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Except for the kingfisher who will not stay in place to be photographed, there were few birds.

A juvenile alligator was sunning.

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Swallowtails and fritillary butterflies return when the pinxter and other plants bloom.

And at Nick’s Road campsite, newly hatched,  were easter lubber grasshoppers.

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Small now, they will triple their size in a few weeks.

And a Magnolia green jumping spider jumped onto one of our kayaks.

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Almost transparent, it’s a beautiful little spider — the photo does not do it justice.

And, a treat…a few blueberries are already ripening.

Another beautiful day on the creek.

2017 March 15 – Wednesday

Put-in:  12pm, clear sky, around 50F, brisk wind ~ 5mph+, outgoing tide upriver, incoming tide down river, take-out 4:30pm.

Temperatures in the area the night before were between 35-38; even lower temperatures expected tonight.   Paddlers with Paddle Florida Dam to the Bay suffered rains, cold temperatures last night and were not looking forward to the night’s even colder temperatures.   Twelve paddlers apparently chose to leave the group before the day’s paddle.

Mark had a load of firewood for the paddlers — a warm fire and even more the warmth of companionship might help, particularly tomorrow morning.

The Spring tide was out.  We have never seen the creek this low.  In an outgoing tide, leaving muddy shoreline exposed, shore birds as egrets, herons and ibis can usually been seen.

Today we saw a little blue heron.  It was skittish and the photograph was a long shot, but it flew ahead of us for about a mile, much faster than we could paddle, then flying away as we approached it again.

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We were jacketed and hooded — the coldest paddling day we’ve had for a year.

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The most dominant blooms on the creek are the dark orange cross vine flowers and white fringe tree.  Some of the cross vine blossoms were frost singed; hopefully the buds will not be too frozen after the freeze tonight to bloom. (Click on photos to expand).

And the pinxter azaleas which will continue to bloom for another two or more weeks — some bushes are still in bud.

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A few blossoms of Walter’s Viburnum are still on the shrubs, but there are more developing seed pods on these bushes than blossoms.

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At Nick’s Road campsite, primrose violets, candy root and partridge berry. Some of the palmettos have flower sprays and the cinnamon ferns are beginning to open up.

Beginning to flower are parsley hawthorne, virginia willow or sweetspire, swamp sweetbells, swamp dogwood, false indigo and yaupon holly.

At tree top height the sight of shades of spring against a blue sky dispels the chill in the air.

Water oak and other oak species are also blooming as are the pumpkin ash.

And below, it is easy to miss the bristly buttercup plants blooming throughout the forest.

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Every month we have been finding at least one swamp leatherflower or clematis crispa blooming.  Today we found one blossom in the sun and another large bud in shade.P1020580

Pinxter azaleas blooms attract swallowtail butterflies.  A few were out today.  This one resting on an alder bush, next to the pinxter bush.

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On the Ochlockonee, nearby, there must be a new osprey nest.  Paddling upstream and again downstream, in the same section of the river we saw flying overhead a single osprey.  We were hoping to see kites — this is the time of year they can be found in Tate’s Hell.  Paddlers today saw them on the Ochlockonee, but it was not to be today for us.  However, the kingfisher, vultures and a king bird and small sparrows were on the river.

One small alligator was in the water; a few cooters on the paddle downriver.

After tomorrow, warmer weather is predicted.

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2017 February 25 – Saturday

Put-in:  10:40 am, cloudy sky, around 74F, outgoing tide, take-out 3:00 pm

The phenology data shows that leafing and blooming are occurring earlier this year.  On Womack creek the pattern of blooming has been different every year.   This year, the Walters Viburnum continues to bloom and is, in late February, the dominant blooming shrub.   But punctuating the shoreline with delicate pinks are fully blooming pinxter azaleas, which almost 3 weeks earlier were still largely in bud.

Blooming now on the creek are golden club, though not in great mass groupings as in some years, swamp buttercup, swamp jessamine.

Not to be ignored are pinxter azaleas.  While the dominant hue is a delicate pink, there are a few bushes with much darker pink and one, we saw, almost white.

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Beginning to bloom are wax myrtle and blackberry.

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On Nick’s Road Primitive Campsite where we usually stop for lunch and the Womack Creek Campground landing, at ground level, to be easily stepped on, are candy root, primrose leaf violets, and yellow stargrass.

Still in bud, but promising blooms in a few weeks are fringe tree, yaupon holly, swamp dogwood, false indigo and spatterdock.

And one cannot ignore the fungi and ferns which are also beginning to revive.

The cooters and 6-7 feet alligators appeared once the clouds passed.

Knox B. paddled with us — we were planning to scout the upper New River the next day and planned to camp next to the New River to get an early start the next morning.

Our paddle on Womack Creek started out under cloudy skies, but ended in sunshine, which heightened the rose colors of spring.

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2017 February 6 – Monday

Over the last two years we had identified 6 stands of Japanese Climbing Ferns, the only invasive plants which we have seen on Womack Creek, except for one taro plant (which we dug up two years ago).

These ferns are beautiful, but difficult to get rid of.  Michael Jenkins, an expert on endangered and threatened species,  had advised us on its proper removal two years ago, but we had to adapt the procedure to conditions we found on the river.  We chose a time when there were no spores on the underside of the leaves — late winter.

[Professor Emeritus Loran Anderson (FSU, Biology) has informed us that it is not under the leaf that these spores can be found but “spongia (are) on finger-like projections at the tips of some of the leaves.”  He has continued to generously verify photographs we have sent him of new plants we have photographed on the creek.]

The protocol states that these vines should be covered with a plastic bag and cinched at the stems.   We could not cover the vines with a plastic bag.  Like any plant, they sought sunlight, and the vines were entwined over saplings and shrubs.  It also recommended that something be placed under the plant to catch any seeds (spores) from falling on to the soil,  another difficult procedure because on the woodland floor in rich river soil, a variety of plants, shrubs and trees were growing densely.  The procedure continues: after the foliage is covered and cinched, cut the stems at the base, turn the plastic bag over to keep the foliage from falling out.

Then the rootball should be dug out.  Japanese fern roots are like capillaries all under the soil, entangled with all the other vegetation.

We dispensed with the floor cover and the bag over the plant, but we checked to see if the leaves had any spores.  None.  Then we removed the vines as carefully as we could,then cut the foliage off at the base.  Then dug up the rootball, checking the soil to see that no remnants were left.

The photos below show the Japanese climbing fern and our methods of removing them.  The six identified ferns led equally as many other fern clumps which we found either in the interior from the plant or near these plants.

We put each fern into small plastic sacks and then added them to a larger sack, which was too large to carry in our cockpits and therefore transported on top of the kayak deck.

We will double bag this and let it sit outside for several weeks, tightly cinched.  Then we will burn it in our brush pit.

We vowed that we would  make this an annual event.

The day, however, was not all work.

At 10:30 in the morning, it was overcast and foggy.

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A black and white kind of day.  This is the view of the Ochlockonee River on the right and Womack Creek on the left from the Womack Creek landing.

The moisture in the fog created jewels on trees, droplets on spider webs.

Last Saturday when we were last on Womack Creek, we missed seeing the Sweet gum bud; the hornbeam tree was covered with these catkins.

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All the ferns were located below the branch leading to Nick’s Road Campsite, so we had lunch on the water at this secluded spot.

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One doesn’t need a vista to have a good view.

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Exploring a branch, one of many which open up after heavy rains, tropical storms or hurricanes, we found a remnant of a sad event.  Sad, because it was not in the natural order of things.  A barred owl (we think) — there is a pair of barred owls near there which we always hear when camping at the campground — probably came across a fish hooked on a bush line.  It either got entangled in the line or somehow the hook caught the owl.  Hanging from a branch, it had tried to fly away, but could not escape the nylon line.

Bush lines are allowed by state law.  These are single lines which are attached to trees and baited and thrown into the water.  By law each line has to have a color of a registered owner, but this does not seem to be followed nor enforced.

Three years ago when leading a group on the Crooked River, about 3 miles south of the Womack Creek Landing, off the Ochlockonee, one of the paddlers came across a cooter struggling in the water.  It had been caught in the line.   Fortunately, he saw this and cut the line off with a knife another paddler had. This freed the cooter.  Just last week, on the Iron Wall in Lake Talquin, we saw a black vulture suffer the same fate, like the owl, hanging from a low branch.

The last fern having been dispatched into the bag, we paddled back.

The morning fog had dissipated soon after we were on the river and the day had turned memorably pure:  hardly any wind, hardly any current in the water, no artificial sounds, and the soft warmth that early spring produces.

A juvenile alligator was getting the best of the sun and a nearby cooter also, unpeturbed by paddlers nearby.

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And in the sky, as we approached the Ochlockonee River, the moon and jet stream created a pattern equally as  beautiful in the sky as the the shoreline and water.

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Even the landing, in that afternoon light, was beautiful.

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It was a work day for us, but what a place to be working!

2017 February 4 – Saturday

At 10:45 to clear skies with temperatures around 54 and a light breeze, we put-in to an incoming tide.  We took out at 3:10 pm, after having lunch at Nick’s Road Campsite.  Halfway up the creek, it got warm enough so we removed our anoraks.

Womack Creek landing is at the juncture of the Ochlockonee River and the mouth of the Womack Creek.  This is where we put-in and take-out.

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Paddling upstream on Womack is not like paddling up-river on the Ochlockonee.  The only current is a tidal one and most of the creek is protected from wind.

The creek is relatively broad at the mouth and narrows.  Depending on tide and water level from rains, one can easily paddle over 4 miles up the creek, past Nick’s Road campsite and into one of two branches beyond.  Over the years we have been paddling and monitoring the life there, new branches have opened up and when the days are longer, we explore them.  Winter exploration, however, has its benefits.  With no leaves on the trees and shrubs, one can see where one is going — branches meander through the least resisting path; there is no such thing as a straight paddle on the branches.

Over 2 1/2 miles after put-in the creek branches.  The right branch dead ends after about 3/4 miles.  The left branch will lead you to Nick’s Road campsite where we usually stop for lunch.  The take-out is muddy and oyster shells at one time were emptied there and there is a drop, so caution is suggested getting out of boats at low tide.  The campsite is a lovely primitive site (no water, no toilet facilities), but it has a grill, a picnic table and fire pit.   It is large enough for several tents.  We camped there with two families and there was more than enough room for 4 adults and 4 active kids.  After March 15, the reservation system for Tate’s Hell will be available on Reserve America.

We have been lax with removing the few Japanese climbing ferns. This is the only invasive and only non-native plant on this creek to our knowledge. Care must be taken in its removal to prevent spores from further propagating the ferns.  We saw a new fern and decided to return within the month to get this and 5 other ferns dispatched properly.

For the past three or four years the clematis crispa blossoms have not bloomed as profusely as we saw them the first year, nor as long.  We are always looking for them. We saw one blossom about 1 mile south of Nick’s Road campsite in November.  None in December or January.

But….looka here…

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In another section, a single flower, sheltered from the cold.

All of the blueberry bushes were in bloom.  In the past two years, we have always had a handful of blueberries (tart, but refreshing) in May, sometime late April.   A few bumble bees were visiting the flowers.

We look forward to tasting blueberries in late April and May and muscadines in October.

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Last month, there was only one big bush of Walter’s Viburnum blooming.  Today, there were a few bushes in bloom, but even more bushes in heavy bud and probably ready to bloom fully within 2 weeks.

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Horn bean catkins are also early bloomers.

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But earlier, still, are the alders.

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Soon after, golden clubs appear along a several branches off the main river.  A few were in bloom, but the number of plants visible seems much less than previous years.

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A plant which has not been photographed for ID (and which will photos will be sent to Prof Loran Anderson for confirming ID) was seen — a species of tick seed, with a single bloom in a clump of leave.

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Another identified plant, an air plant, will also have to be identified before we move it to the Plant ID section.

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Birdlife is hard to photograph.  We have never been able to get a good photo of a protothonary warbler, or wood ducks, or the pair of hawks which nest in the upper parts of the creek, or buzzards which fly over the creek.  We have seen kites over the creek and once a kite soared low over the water as we watched silently in wonder.  And kingfishers refuse to get close enough to us to be photographed.  Similarly the squirrels and otters which we have seen on the creek.   Smaller birds which perch rapidly from one place to another are elusive to my point & shoot camera.  But…we think this is a female protothonary warbler, which would not stay still in a good shooting location to get a clear photo.

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It has a slight yellow cast on its breast, unlike the male which is quick to spot among the thickets.

In March, we begin to look for Pinxter azaleas, which, depending on amount of rainfall and water in the creek will bloom profusely or scantily, but always there is a show.  These native azaleas are a delicate pink, but even more they have a delicate scent.  Not the heavy scent of the sweet bay in late April, but slight and sweet. A slightly humid, relatively warm day seems to bring out more scent.   Soon after,  the sweet bay blooms and perfumes the creek, then swamp roses with their slight cinnamon sweet scent.

There were 3 pinxter azalea plants in full bloom.   Most of the plants were still in tight buds.  When the pinxters are in full bloom, the Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly can be seen.  There was one today, but were 3 bushes sufficient to satisfy it?

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Florida maples come in male and female trees.  They were in bloom.

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A bit early, pumpkin ash blossoms were getting ready to bloom.

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And hidden behind the trees,  swamp jessamine were blooming.

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Increasing beds of spatterdock are now seen on the creek where only two patches were present when we first started to inventory the plantlife on this creek.   They are getting ready to bloom and will continue to bloom all summer and fall until a really hard frost will stop them.

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The creek is already showing signs of early spring.

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2017 January 12 – Thursday

At 11:40 am it was warm, the sky was clear.  There was a slight breeze.  We took out over 3 1/2 half hours later, having explored several branches, making a usual 8 mile trip, a 9.2 mile trip.

A flock of wood ducks preceded us upstream and turned into the right branch over 2 1/2 miles from put-in.  This branch dead ends and we decided to follow the wood ducks, and after we failed to get good photos of them, turned around to continue up the left branch to Nick’s Road Campsite where we usually stop for lunch.

It was warm enough for a single sulphur butterfly, few other insects.  An alligator hurriedly plopped into the water — around 8′ long.  Large alligators are not usually found on this creek, juvenile ones and younger.

Alligators and sulphur butterflies are rarely seen in January.

As in the December report which was written on a Word document was not retrievable and the printed copy cannot be found.

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The day was clear and for January, warm.

Warm enough for a single sulphur butterfly which flitted from the last of the climbing aster, sheltered under leafless vines, and the blueberry blossoms.

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Warm enough for a small alligator.

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And the first pinxter azaleas of the season — two months ahead of normal blooming.

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These first blooms tend to be stunted — the petals on the azalea above were burned by the

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And, wonders of wonders, a stalk of green fly orchid was in bloom!

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Even while tiny bulbous seed cases were being formed.

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An egret was feeding.

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Alder catkins were a sign of normalcy — the alders usually put out their blossoms in winter.

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And Walter’s Viburnum start to bloom in mid to late January.

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2016 – December report had to be done on Word, printed & filed.  Can’t find that report. 

2016 – November 10 – Thursday

10:00 am put-in, take-out 3:05pm. incoming tide as we paddled upstream, outgoing tide as we paddled downstream, calm, clear skies, temperature at put-in low 60, at take-out upper 70’s.  Negligible rain all of October.

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Accompanied by David B, who is completing his final module in the Florida Master Naturalist program.  Later met by two Colorado snowbirds, Erin and Jay, who,  traveling from St. Joe, mistook Womack Creek’s eastern time and arrived 1 hour later, but correct at central time.  Erin and Jay stayed to camp at the Womack Creek campground  in their trailers.

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Leaves:   turning:  sweet gum, blueberries, ogeche tupelo, arrow wood, cypress, sumac.

Leaves normally turning, but still green:  Florida maple.

Blooming:  Climbing Aster, Simmond’s aster, swamp sunflower, green fly orchids, yellow star grass, silvering, clematis crispa.

Seeding:

Walter’s viburnum full of seeds, dahoon and yaupon hollies bright red with American holly berries still green, alder, swamp titi, climbing aster, swamp rose, indigo, wax myrtle, button eryngo, parsley haw, Indian oats.

Birds:  5 wood ducks, kingfisher, alarm call of hawk pair, unidentified small birds.

Butterflies:  Gulf fritillary, zebra longwing.

Other insects:  honeybees busy on Simmond’s aster blossoms, bumble bees on climbing asters, smaller unidentified nectar sipping insects on Simmond’s aster.

Reptiles, amphibians:  few turtles, 4 juvenile alligators ranging from a little over 2.5 feet to over 5 feet.

Discovered gopher tortoise opening, but it may have been abandoned – no sign of recent entry.

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Fully into fall, spring and summer nests have been abandoned.

One could not  have asked for a better north Florida day.

2016 – October 14 – Friday

This was the longest stretch of time we have not surveyed the creek — we left Florida on the 24th of May and returned 2 days ago.

Although they were signs of debris load caused by sudden rivulets of water on Nick’s road campsite with small tree limbs and pine branches around the area, we were not able to confirm how much rain either Hurricane Hermine or less likely Hurricane Matthew had increased rainfall and winds in that area. 9\

9:50 am, put-in; slight breeze, tide low at put-in, returning from Nick’s Road campsite, tide was incoming, sunny with a few clouds, temperature around low 60’s.  Temperatures started to rise and by take-out it was probably in the mid-80’s, but a stronger breeze tempered the heat.

Leaves:  Swamp trees still green except for sweet gum and blueberries; pinxter azaleas are without leaves

Blooming:  Swamp sunflower, snow squarestem, climbing aster, green fly orchid, cardinal flower.

Seeds: tupelo, yaupon and dahoon hollies, walter’s viburnum, green fly orchid, laurel greenbrier, rose hips, muscadine, acorn, green fly orchid (1 pod).

Buds: silvering — probably will bloom in November, still tight.

Dormant:  Resurrection fern.

Birds:  heard woodpecker, buzzard, several small insect eaters, one egret.

Insects & butterflies:  gulk fritillary (2), zebra longwing (1), sulphur (1), pair of mating dragonflies in air, unidentified small carpenter-type bee, only a few other insects.  There were fewer insects and butterflies on the climbing asters and swamp sunflowers than one normally sees at this time of the year.  Few spiders, mainly unidentified black orb spider which sits in the middle of the web.

Other wildlife:  cooters (2), brown water snake (small, light colored)

Photos – Trees and undergrowth foliage:

Photos – Flowers and other blooms:

Photos – Seeds:

Photo – insect seed case:

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 Photos – Critters:

We have paddled and tent camped in 47 states and 6 Canadian provinces and we return to Womack Creek always finding a changing, yet constant, habitat.  We l0ok forward to what the rest of this year shows us on that creek  — every paddle is different and a discovery.

2016 – May 22 – Sunday

10:00am, about 68F, clear, outgoing tide, income about 12:00, wind 3-5mph

A “cold front” bringing drier air and a slight breeze made for a pleasant late spring put-in.  The creek is in summer color and by take-out after 1pm, the temperature was in the 80’s and climbing.  Normally, we would have lunched at Nick’s Road Campground, but yellow flies and some black flies which normally do not follow one on the water, pursued us soon after about 15 minutes of paddling.   The frequency of their bites increased as we approached the campground.  Clearly, camping there would be miserable as it would at the Womack Creek Campground.  Taking out — two or three flies created bite welts on one of us.

Green is the predominant color except for the white balls of arrow wood blossoms and swamp titi blooms.   Close to the swamp rose bushes, their fragrance is noticeable, and throughout the creek the headier smells of the sweetbay reminds us that summer is soon upon us.   Not as many dragonflies as two weeks ago, but a miniature species caught rides on the kayak.   There are few honeybees on the creek, but flies and other insects are serving as pollinators.

A kite was seen early on, about the same area we saw the kite flying at tree level two weeks ago.  This one, however, flew in graceful arcs much higher up and over a longer area.

In bloom:  narrow-leaf primroses still in bloom, dahoon holly, and in full bloom false dragon-head, arrow wood, swamp titi.   A few stands of pickerel weed mixed with the dragon-head.  The spiderlilies have all bloomed out.  Most of the grape vines have heavy buds — hopefully this will mean muscadines in the fall.  Only a few clematis crispa.

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Dahoon Holly

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Pickerel Wee and False Dragon-head

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Up close false dragon head.

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Arrow wood blossoms now blooming.

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Sweet bay, scenting the creek with heavy sweetness.

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And a few blooming clematis crispa.

No alligators nor snakes were seen, but a few turtles, including this very curious one, which gawked instead of plopping into the water as did its kind.

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And, a dead alligator snapping turtle.  We have never seen a live alligator snapping turtle on this creek.  This one was huge.

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Insects:  dragonflies, no butterflies, sparse honey bees, no carpenter bees, few wasps, but small flies and biting yellow and black flies.

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Birds: single kite, great blue heron, little blue heron, hawk, red headed woodpecker, and an unidentified yellow warbler type of bird.

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Just before the mouth of Womack Creek, in one of the branches, an elderberry bush was blooming.  These are common on the Ocklockonee below the creek and on Crooked River, but have not yet been seen on the creek itself.

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Except for the yellow flies, a good day for being on Womack Creek.

2016 – May 7 – Saturday

10:45am, around 70F, clear, low tide, incoming at about 1pm, breeze from west 2-4mph

The creek is in early summer-late spring garb, scented by blooming swamp roses and sweet bay.  The yaupon and American holly blooms were short-lived, but the Dahoon hollies are now heavy with buds.  The flowers blooming in April have gone to seed, except for the false indigo which continues to bloom.  Heavily budded arrow wood flower clusters should be opening up in a week or more and swamp titi are beginning to bloom, although most are still in bud stage.   Muscadine buds promise a good crop if temperature and summer rain prove favorable.  We welcome the sweet/tart tiny fruit in the fall, to taste a little, but to leave the most for the animals and birds.  The Perseus Bay is also flowering, but their blossoms are very inconspicuous — a sharp contrast to the sweet bay blossoms with their strong scent and sculptured petals.

We were the only ones on the creek and took our time searching for flowers such as cross vines, which this year had only a brief period of blooming; clematis crispa which in some years can be seen throughout the creek as purple dots of bells, but this year we had to scan carefully to find the few we did see; American wisteria blooms in a particular thick stand, which did not even seem to have bloomed this year — no spent flower heads could be seen; and snakes.  The sun on our skin and the warmth foretold perfect snake basking weather.  Also turtles and alligators.  They were not that many turtles on the fallen trunks and large branches and only 3 alligators were seen, two small and one about 5-6′ long basking on a log in a sheltered bay.  One water moccasin was seen swimming and one similarly coated brown water snake was in a large swamp rose branch.

Dragonflies flitted all over the creek, only one yellow swallowtail since the azaleas are no longer blooming, a few carpenter bees in the roses, but no honey bees in the ogeche tupelo blossom balls.

At the start,  a single kite flew at tree-top height, allowing us to see what a beautiful bird it is.  We also sighted for the first time a pair of plovers on the creek.  Cardinals, mainly heard, and one seen were on the creek.  And the ever present black vultures.

In bloom:  false indigo, sweet bay, swamp rose, dahoon holly, swamp ti-ti, narrow leaf primrose, ogeche tupelo, cow creek spider lily, one false dragonhead and yet to be identified tiny blue flower at Nick’s Road campsite where we had our lunch.

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Swamp Rose — a fully blooming shrub will perfume the air around it.

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Clematis crispa — just a few blooming.

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False indigo.

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Dancing Cow Creek spider lily, an endemic species in this area discovered by Prof Loran Anderson, FSU Emeritus Biology.  To the upper left, a clematic crispa and in the corner, an early false dragonhead blossom.

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Sweet bay — it’s heavy scent permeates the creek.

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Dahoon Holly.

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Narrow leaf primrose.

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And early bunch of swamp titi blooms — the full blooming is still a week away.

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A demure 1/2 inch blossom on a 6 inch tall plant at Nick’s Road campground.

Budding now, but soon blooming are: muscadines, button bush and arrow wood.

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Muscadine (grape).

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Button bush.

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Iron wood.

A dragonfly was in the water.  Whether this was a female who had just recently deposited her eggs or a stricken dragonfly, it wasn’t clear.  As the kayak approached the creature, it flew away to another area of the creek about 14 feet away.  It landed on its back and remained that way until turned over and then subsequently lifted out of the water to put on the deck of the kayak.  The animal seemed fragile, but hung on to the deck bungee chord for about 1/2 mile.  Not sure it flew away or fell off; however, later another smaller dragon fly attached itself to that same bungee chord for a down river ride of about the same distance.

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Apple snail eggs, not many, are encouraging signs that this primary food for limpkins are taking hold on the creek.

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A light breeze cooled the warming air on the paddle downriver against an incoming tide.

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Brown water snake.

Another beautiful day on Womack Creek.

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2016 – April 15 – Friday

11:45 am, 68 F, overcast with chance of rain, high-incoming tide, winds around 5-6mph

Except for a few fringe trees and the absence of clematis crispa and the false indigo still to bloom,  the creek’s flowering resembles that of spring 2011.  Huge bushes of rusty black haw with their large balls and waxy leaves contrast with the pink pinxter azaleas with smaller bushes of swamp dogwoods with their composite clumps of white flowers in the background looking like miniature rusy black haw, their leaves thinner and coarser.  In delicate festoons the swamp sweetbells and Virginia sweetspire add form and additional white to the spring display against leaves which are turning darker now.  We have not seen such a thick show of rusty blackhaw since 2011.

Flowering:  pinxter azaleas (pink), cross vines (orange), swamp sweetbells (white), swamp dogwood (white), Virginia sweetspire (white), Rusty black haw (white), yaupon holly (white), American holly (white), swamp bay, perseus (cream), American wisteria (lavender to purple), blackberry (white), the last remnants of the fringe tree (white).P1190614

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Budding: Spider lily.

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Seeding: poison ivy, blueberries, Walter’s viburnum

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Just leafing: ogeche tupelo, the last tree on the creek to leaf out.

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Reptiles/amphibians/ turtles: American  alligator, Florida cooter

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Birds:  flock of little blue heron, kingfisher

insects: yellow swallowtail, carpenter bees, honey bees

The temperature continued in the high 60’s, it threatened, but never rained.  Spring on Womack Creek is always a delight.

2016 – March 22 -Tuesday

11:45 am, 60F, clear, 3mph, low tide, incoming tide up stream and back

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In bloom:  pinxter azaleas, Walter’s viburnum, parsley haw, cross vine, swamp buttercup, butterweed, swamp jessamine, oak, white violets, blackberries, golden club, fringe tree.

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Budding:  Yaupon holly

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Leafing:  sweet gum, oak, ferns

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Birds: Great egret, hawk, buzzard, heard barred owl

Insects: Swallowtail, dragonflies, honey bees, carpenter bees

Reptiles & amphibians:  cooters, juvenile alligator

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2016 – March 6- Monday

10:45 AM, 68 F at put-in, warmer at take-out; 3.5 mph SW wind, low tide at put-in, return from Nick’s Road Campsite to incoming tide.

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In bloom:  blueberries in much greater profusion, pinxter azaleas much fuller than earlier blooms, Walter’s viburnum all over the creek (will be fully blooming over 1-2 weeks if weather continues warm), hornbeam blossoms, golden globe, swamp buttercup, pumpkin ash (with honeybees).

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Budding:  Swamp dogwood.

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Fruiting:  Early blueberries, laurel green brier

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Leafing:  Alders, hornbeam, swamp dogwood, swamp rose, pumpkin ash

Insects: honeybees, carpenter bees, 2 swallowtail butterflies

Animals: 3 juvenile alligators, 1 plump otter

Birds: kingfisher, vulture

Spring is decidedly in the air.

2016 – February 1 – Monday

11:10 AM, 68 F at put-in, 3-4 mph winds, clear day, high tide

In bloom:  climbing asters, a few, but more than in previous trip; first Walter’s viburnum bush on branch leading to Nick’s Road Campsite, blueberry blossoms, alder catkins, azalea blooms on same bushes are in previous two visits, the blossoms seem stunted

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Leafing:  Some sweet gum leaves are still on the trees, some horn beam branches are showing slight shoots of green

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Insects: 1 sulphur butterfly on climbing aster

Reptiles & amphibians: cooters sunning

Birds:  in one branch, the shrill alarm calls of a hawk; on downriver section a pair of ducks (not recognizable), small, timid birds in brush (not recognizable), 1 buzzard

Branches:  more branches are opening up, but fallen trees and branches impede through paddling.

Remnants of 2o15 in the hatched egg cases of the apple snail which appeared on the creek last year.

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In every season, every year, the creek changes.

2016 – January 10 – Sunday

11:30 AM, incoming tide, around 55 degrees, wind around 10 mph, overcast.  Rained in the area the day before, potholes filled with water on forestry roads, river current faster than usual.

We were able to paddle further up the branches upstream from Nick’s Road Campsite than we have ever paddled before.  The GSP indicates that we were 1.5 miles away from highway 67 where Womack Creek empties from the west through a culvert below the highway.  We did not have our saw and were stopped by two fallen trees; we might have been able to cut our way through because of the high water had we cutting tools.  Total miles paddled today was 11.7 miles, considerably longer than the 8 miles more or less of a normal field trip.

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Blooming:  climbing asters — more today than in December, but few; blueberry blooming; no increase in blooming on the pinxter azaleas and golden club in the first branch on river right entering Womack Creek; alder catkins; some early budding on Walter’s viburnum.

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Fruiting:  Dahoon berries, a few still not picked over by the birds; one blueberry bush was starting to form fruit.

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Fungi:  On two sweet gum trees the fungus below — white with filaments not visible at top.

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Leafing:  Except for one or two sheltered sweet gums, all the leaves seem to have dropped from the deciduous trees and shrubs.

Reptiles & amphibians: no turtles, alligators or other creatures.

Birds:  one hawk, kingfisher, buzzard.

Generally, the landscape was a winter one.  With lower temperatures expected the next week, the creek may finally get the chill it normally gets at this time of the year.

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2015 – December 24 – Thursday

11:25 tide outgoing (full moon 12-25), around 75 degrees, unseasonably warm; cloudy with no sun during the paddle.  Rained heavily previous day and signs of rain on hway 67 nearing Tate’s Hell this morning.

Blooming:  a few climbing asters, pinxster azaleas beginning to bloom (4 bushes in partial blooms).  The pinxter blossoms are not fully headed as one would find in March, there are fewer number of bloom buds on each bunch.

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Leaves are still on Florida maple, a few sweet gums (one with leaves still green), false indigo, Walter’s viburnum, blueberries, except for one tree, all tupelo trees have no leaves.

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Birds: a flock of migrating blackbirds; a single female cardinal in the thicket below them.

A single sulphur butterfly along rushes on river’s edge.

Florida cooters – 3 – medium sized; no alligators.

Take-out at 2:05 to incoming tide with slight southerly winds.

A hunter’s trailer, one tent and a pen for dogs at Nick’s Road Campsite.  No one at campsite.

This was deer hunting season and hunters were positioned at various distances along the road as they waited for the dogs to drive the deer within shooting range.  Leaving the campground around 2:45, we inquired of a pair of hunters about their day.  One deer shot; one shot missed — they said they are going to keep hunting until they get another deer.

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2015 – October 29 – Thursday

10:20 am, tide turning, noticeable current in the river of about .7mph; return trip, about 7 inches lower, clear, temperature near 70’s increasing to 80.  Rained about 1.5 inches in Carrabelle two previous days.

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Blooming:  climbing asters, swamp sunflowers, cosmos, Simmond’s aster, only 1 cardinal flower stand seen, green fly orchids on both trees, pinxter azalea — one bush which seems to bloom in November, not in the spring.P1170877

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Buds: silvering

Seeds: palmetto (purple), laurel greenbrier (green to black-purple), dahoon and yaupon holly seeds (red), Walter’s viburnum (purple-black), green fly orchid seed pods

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Leaves:  primarily still green, but cypresses turning, and blueberries and arrow wood and a few branches of sweet gum and maple.

Birds: possibly a protothonary warbler, downy woodpecker

Insects: dragonflies, sulfur butterflies (species not known, was not able to photograph for ID), long-tailed skipper, possible gulf frittilary

Smaller cooters and 1 alligator.

Fish:  school of mullet at confluence of Womack and Ochlockonee river

Mark, the current host at Womack Creek Campground and a bow hunter,  reported that he saw 8 bears under his stand last week between Loop campground and the Womack Creek Campground.

2015 – October 9, Friday

10:10 am, water level high, incoming tide continued throughout the paddle to Nick’s Road campground and back, turning about 1/2 hour from take-out (~1:45pm), temperature in the mid 70’s, slight breeze, partly cloudy sky

Blooming:  cardinal flowers are in bloom throughout creek, climbing asters and swamp sunflowers in full blooms, with varieties of insects on sunflowers.

Seeds:  dahoon and yaupon holly seeds turning red, American holly seeds still green, the last of the muscadines fruit, some 1/2 inch in diameter are sweeter, the smaller ones are more tart;  Walters viburnum drupes red, not yet turning to dark purple; Perseus bay with purple drupes, a few Ogeche tupelo drupes reflecting the fewer blooms on the trees earlier in the spring.  Green fly orchid seed pods forming, some already have released seeds; one bud stem on one plant; sweet gum balls and clematis crispa seeds resembling sweet gum balls.

Leaves: not yet turned, although one sweet gum sapling near put-in was beginning to turn.

Birds:  possibly a hawk at Nick’s Road Campsite (identified by sound); a pair of mocking birds, smaller birds flitting in shrubs and trees, downy woodpecker.

Few cooters on the return trip, one alligator.

Fish:  Just before entering Womack creek, a sturgeon leaped out of the water.

Mammals:  Leaving the campground at Womack Creek, a small black bear was seen on the road.  It traveled on the road for awhile before it turned into the forest.

A large tree has fallen over the creek near the Nick’s Road campground; it can be limboed.  Another tree has blocked passage on the first branch on river right from put-in.  More branches are being opened up, some may be connecting with each other.

2015 – May 30, Saturday

This will have to be in place of our June observations.

8:40am put-in, blue sky, water calm, low tide, temperature in mid 80’s.  At take out 12:50 pm, southerly breezes gusting to about 8-10mph, temperature in very high 80’s or 90, partly cloudy.

New flowering plant:  one plant to be identified, water hemlock

Flowers in bloom:  coastal rose gentian, clematis crispa, spatterdock, muscadine closer to put-in, sweet bay, green fly orchid

Flowers waning:  Swamp titi, swamp rose, button bush, arrow wood, pickerel weed, narrow leaf primrose, swamp (false) dragonhead

Fruiting:  blackberries, some muscadine in upper creek beginning to form fruit, very few ochege tupelo drupes this year

Birds:  pairs of cardinals, many pairs of protothonary warblers throughout the creek, small kingfisher, buzzard, sound of hawk

Reptile:  no snakes sighted

Turtles and alligators:  3 small cooters, 1 4 foot alligator.

Apple snail eggs throughout the creek and branches.   This is the first time we have seen so many apple snails since 2011.  Last year we saw one cluster.

Insects:  a few hornets, a few bumble bees, no honey bees, dragon flies (one species still to be identified), one gulf fritillary butterfly, deer flies throughout the creek, particularly in upper 1/3.

The most noticeable coloration in the creek are the shades of green.

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2015 – May 21, Thursday

Our mid-May paddle was cancelled because of rain.

8:40 am put-in, slight breeze, tide outgoing, partly cloudy skies, temperatures around mid to upper 70’s.   We returned at 1:06 after a 24 minutes lunch at Nick’s Road campsite.  The predicted rain storm did not appear, fortunately.

New plants:  the elderberry bush was in bloom, however, it was so high it was difficult to get a good photo of the single remaining bloom.  Another plant was sent out to Prof Anderson for identification.   And a second, possibly a variety of clematis was also photographed and sent for identification.

The creek is in full summer foliage.  The ogeche tupelo leaves seem to have been eaten by the tent caterpillers and new leaf is coming out.  Only a few drupes on the trees.  The Perseus bay seems has green bumps on its leaves.

Flowers in bloom:  The last of the elderberry (still not entered in the plant sections because of inadequate photo), clematis  crispa, green fly orchid (about 5 sprays, with bloom stems on another cluster), arrow wood, swamp titi, spatterdock, pineland pimpernel, false dragon head, the last of the swamp roses, the last of the narrow leaf evening primrose, the last of the sweet bay, the last of the Perseus bay, muscadine grapes (on the upper 1/3, grapes are already appearing on the vines), just a few Cowcreek spider lily.  The dominant flowers are of the arrow wood, the swamp titi, false dragon head and button bush.

Fruiting:  The blueberries have no more berries on the bushes; blackberries are ripening.

Birds: More heard than seen, except 2 ducks, prothotonary warbler with bright yellow heads, 3 large kites flying overhead on the return to the put-in.

Two snakes, banded water snake (new sighting), the other a brown water snake.

Insects:  hornets building nests, bumblebees, no honey bees seen, dragon flies, damsel flies, frittilary butterflies, other flies and/or bees on flowers, yellow flies are out.

Amphibians: No alligators seen, several small cooters.

Other:  for the first time since 2011, we have seen lots of apple snail eggs.  Last year we saw one or two, but this year throughout the lower creek the egg casings are on various plants.

Other animals:  squirrels which evade being photographed and hence they are not listed in the main body of this blog.

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2015 – April 14, Tuesday

In the spring a lot can happen in 16 days.  Forinstance:  the American wisteria bloomed and except for two faded clusters are no longer visible on the vines; the Swamp dogwoods peaked and are now setting fruit on most old blooms; the cross vine flowers are no longer blooming although normally they bloom the summer long into early fall; the Ogeche tupelo blossom balls are breaking out into honey-bee attracting pollen balls; the yaupon and American holly blossoms are gone to seed; most of the poison ivy has bloomed and little green round seeds are forming.

11:15am put-in, no breeze, overcast, incoming tide, creek calm, temperatures around mid 70’s rising to low 80’s at paddle’s end.

Flowers in bloom:  Blue flag iris in a small branch, swamp rose, swamp sweetbells, Virginia sweetspire, cowcreek lily, swamp dogwood, false indigo, ogeche tupelo, pinxter azaleas, clematis crispa, narrow leaf evening primrose, spatterdock, pineland pimpernel, butterweed.

Budding:  iron wood, dahoon holly, sweet bay

Birds:  buzzard, barred owl, cardinal heard but not seen, juvenile little blue heron

Amphibians: a few cooters

Insects: carpenter bees, honeybees, wasps, damsel flies

Butterflies: swallowtails yellow and black, Gulf fritillary

P1140153The first blue flag iris in one of the shorter branches near the mouth.

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Swamp Rose, when these begin fully blooming in a week, you will smell them before you see them.

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Swamp sweetbells

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Cowcreek spider lily, an endemic species found only in a small regional area.

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Just a few stands still in bloom, swamp dogwood.

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False indigo, a favorite nectar source for insects.

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Ogeche tupelo.  The honeybees have just now found these blooming; within a week, as the many trees come into full bloom, the sound of bees will be pronounced throughout the creek.

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The pinxter azaleas lasted much longer this year, but there are only a few stands left.  Swallowtail butterflies favor these blossoms.

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Clematis crispa:  Some years there are clusters of blooms on the vines.  This year you will have to search them out, these demure fairy-like blossoms.

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Narrow leaf evening primrose: bright clusters seeking sunlight along the shoreline.

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Pineland pimpernel, demure white flowers, hardly noticeable.

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Virginia sweetspire: These, too, are the last of the blooming clumps.

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Spatterdock:  a sign that summer is close.

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Only one bloom stem on the green fly orchids, but they should be blooming in a week or so.

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Nothing like native high bush blueberries, a tart-sweet flavor, depending on bush.   These are throughout the creek and a handful snack won’t deprive the birds of sustenance.

P1140170Carpenter bee on Virginia sweetspire.

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Wasps:  they freeze when they sense an approaching motion, and resume as soon as movement stops.

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The barred owl that got away, hooting its characteristic cadence and responded to by two other owls, it’s location was not difficult to find.

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On a warm day, there were only a few cooters, sunning.

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Juvenile Little Blue Heron:  remarkably un-skittish.

2015 – March 29, Sunday

11:15am put-in, slight breeze from south, clear, incoming tide, creek calm, temperature remained from about 60-65 during the paddle

Flowers in bloom:  cross vine all over the creek, pinxter azaleas, fringe tree, blackberry flowers, yaupon blossoms, poison ivy blossoms, butterweed, iron wood, blackhaw, swamp sweetbells, two single swamp roses.

Bloom buds, American holly, sparkleberry in one of the branches

Leafing:  Ogeche tupelo

Birds: kingfisher, owl, duck, cardinal and yellow crowned night heron

Amphibians: 1 alligator, a handful of cooters

Insects:  just a few insect, the lower temperature may be a cause for this.

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Yaupon holly blossoms, greatly enlarged.

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Swamp dogwood

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Blackberry blossoms

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Swamp sweetbells and cross vine flower

P1130897Fringe tree and cross vine

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Rusty Blackhaw

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Pumpkin ash

P1130879Yellow-crowned night heron

and they’re back again…

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2015 – March 17, Tuesday

11:30am put-in, North wind, round 6-8 mph, clear, very low tide, creek itself very calm,  tide coming in noticeable on downriver return, in 70’s at put-in to much warmer at take-out at 4:45pm with 33 minutes for lunch at Nick’s Road primitive camp site.

Flowers in bloom:  Viburnums in full bloom, golden clubs in branches, parsley haw, pinxter azaleas, blackberry, fringe tree,  primrose-leaf (white) and blue violets, swamp buttercup, swamp jessamine.   Pinxters have slight fragrance.  At Nick’s Road Campsite and at the Womack Creek Campground candy root, swamp buttercup and primrose-leaf violets (white) in bloom.

Bloom buds:  Swamp dogwood, yaupon, swamp sweetbells.

Leafing:  Sweet gum young leaves, Hornbeam fully leafed but still in lighter colors, pumpkin ash leafing fully but lighter colors, oaks starting to leaf, some with reddish tints, others more chartreuse, a few cypresses with light green leaves, re maples leafing, alders fully leafed, poison ivy light yellow, muscadine.

Leaf buds: a few Ogeche tupelo.

Grasses:  One species of grass (to be identified) was in bloom, some in seed, and with nymph cases on its stems in one of the new branches we explored on RR.

Birds:  Great blue, barred owl and great horned owl heard in woods, as well as woodpecker (species not known), kingfisher, hawk (with barred tail).

Amphibians:  not as many turtles, of those, more were about 4-6 inches, one juvenile alligator, cruising along with kayak for a brief moment.

Reptile:  little brown water snake on branch extending over river.

Insects: bees, honeybee and carpenter out in numbers, paddled into a hatch of insects, but not unidenfied, many insects, smaller dragonflies, black swallowtail and eastern swallowtail.

Branches:  We explored two longer branches on RR and were surprised to see tidal flow going up into these branches.

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Pinxter azalea

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Swamp buttercup

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Swamp Jessamine

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Parsley Haw

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Violet

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Candy Root

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Unidentified grass seed and nymph case

P1130372            Gold Globe

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Walters Viburnum

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Parsley Haw

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Blueberry fruit developing

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Oak leaves and wasp nest

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Spring hues:  Red maple, oak, sweet bay

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Young alligator, too young to know different.

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Young brown watersnake.

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A plop of a young turtle’s drop.

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Ogeche tupeloe, just barely budding.

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Insect case, not yet hatched on Ogeche tupelo.

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Muscadines, first the leaves, then the flowers.

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A patch of Gold globe in one of the branches on river right.

2015 – March 1 – Sunday

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12:05 pm:  temperature at put-in 62F, cloudy, misty then drizzle, low tide, hardly any movement of water

Flowers in bloom:   High bush blueberry (no honey bees), Walter’s viburnum throughout creek, golden club,  cypress, hornbeam, pumpkin ash, pinxter azaleas (3 bushes), swamp buttercup

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Trees leafing:   sweet gum, alder, male red maples, swamp dogwood, resurrection ferns

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Birds:  eagle, 2 hooded mergansers, goldfinch, some species of sparrow

Insects: none heard or seen

New find:  another location of green fly orchids

2015 – February 14 – Saturday, St. Valentine’s Day

11:20am: temperature at put-in 56F with about 5mph breeze, low tide, sunny, cloudless sky

Flowers in bloom:  High bush blueberry (no honeybees), Walter’s viburnum throughout creek and in the branches, golden club, cypress, hornbeam, pumpkin ash, pinxter azaleas (the first blooms this season).

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GolGGGol

Plants and leaf buds:  alder, water hemlock, sweetgums

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Seeds: Florida Red maple seeds forming

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Birds:  cheeping sparrows, pair of barred owls in section upstream of Nick’s Road campsite, hawks

Reptiles and amphibians:  One turtle seen, two heard plopping into water, no alligators

Mammals:  otter and white tail deer in section upstream of Nick’s Road campsite

Japanese climbing fern:  3 stands removed, waited till late winter when spores are not active.  Except for these three plants, we have not found any invasive exotics on Womack Creek.

2 jon boats on river.

Temperature at take-out:  62 F

2015 – January 31, 2015

11:25am:  temperature at put-in 56F, incoming tide with southerly breeze which created unusual patterns on the surface of the water at put-in, almost cloudless sky

Flowers in bloom:  High bush blueberry with honeybees, beginning of Walter’s viburnum

Seeds:  No holly seeds on any of the hollies:  Dahoon, American or Yaupon.  Laurel greenbrier seeds on high vines, not on lower vines.  Florida maple seeds beginning to form on some trees.P1120244

Trees:  Water oak leaves beginning to fall, hornbeam and sweet gum leaf buds forming, a few sweet gum leaves on higher boughs, Walters viburnum leaves beginning to show, swamp rose leafing on upper 1/3 of creek, still in bud form in lower 2/3.

Invasive species:  3 Japanese climbing fern detected, did not have bags and shovel to remove them.

Birds:  red bellied woodpecker, big blue heron,  kingfisher, possibly grey catbird, hawk, other unidentified smaller birds, duck and barred owl calls from one side of the river, answered from the other side.

Animals:  racoon at creekside, slowly ambled into palmettos.

Insects:  bees are back — on blueberries.

2015 – January 11, 2015

11:00 am:  temperature at put-in 58F, no breeze, cloudy, tide turning, river is running high due to rains previous week, at take-out tide outgoing.

Flowers in bloom:  Green Fly orchid (1 spray), Florida maple, High bush blueberries, alder catkins and Walter’s viburnum in bud, about to bloom, some azaleas buds beginning to form.

Seeds:  Still on bushes dahoon, American holly berries, but not Yaupon,  some viburnum seeds.

Birds: buzzard, 3 female cardinals, 1 comorant, 1 kingfisher which darted ahead of comorant on trunk over partly submerged fallen tree and caught a small fish, 1 goldfinch, several unidentified gray birds, 1 woodpecker

No butterflies, honeybees, wasps, but small flying insects in one section of river.

No alligators or turtles seen — the previous week experienced a very cold front with freezing temperatures for 3 nights.

No traffic on river.

December 7, 2014 (Sunday)

10:45am: temperature at put-in 62 F, slight breeze on Ocklockonee River, not noticeable on Womack.  Incoming tide at put-in, outgoing tide at take-out (12:20pm)

Flowers in bloom:  Simmond’s aster, most of climbing aster in seed, a few still on vines, on stalk of green fly orchid in bloom.

Seeds: Walter’s viburnum dark purple, American, Dahoon and Yaupon hollies all with red berries.  No Ogeche drupes on trees.

Birds: buzzards, 1 grebe at entrance to creek, 2 ducks unidentified, 1 anhinga, warblers not identified, sound of woodpecker, no king fishers

No butterflies, honeybees, wasps, or any flying insects.

No alligators, a few larger turtles sunning.

No traffic on river.

November 2, 2014 (Sunday)

10:10 AM: temperature at put-in high 50’s, bit of a bite in the air with a slight breeze, low tide at put-in, higher at take-out, temperature mid-60’s at take-out (1:47 pm)

Flowers in bloom:  climbing aster, swamp sunflower, Simmon’s aster

Seeds: Walter’s viburnum at dark purple state, dahoon and yaupon at red stage, southern arrowwood-purple, ogechee tupelo drupes no longer on trees, no muscadine grapes.

Birds:  hawk (flew too fast across river to properly identify species), king fisher, warblers, owls in woods, wood pecker across creek near Nick’s (too fast to properly ID), buzzard

No butterflies, fewer dragonflies than previous visit.

One alligator a little longer than 3 feet on log, three large turtles on trip downstream.

One jon boat, fisherman checking on his lines.

Beatiful blue sky, briskness to air, fall is here.

October 5, 2014 (Sunday)

10:45 AM:   temperature at put-in low 60’s, clear, no breeze, low tide.

Flowers in bloom:   climbing aster, cardinal flower, swamp sunflower (not in as great a profusion as last year), two clematis crispa.

Flowers already bloomed: climbing hempvine

Seeds:  Walter’s viburnum at red stage, dahoon and yaupon – a few red, most still green, southern arrowwood – purple, ogechee tupelo, swamp tupelo, muscadine grapes ready for picking (some tart, some sweeter than last year’s crop).  Protothonary warblers which appear every year along the creek like to eat the smaller drupes of the shrubs and trees.

Trees: leaves still green, except ash turning bronze, maples at top of tree beginning to turn, same with sweet gum.  Ogeche tupelo leaves falling, but still on tree.   Bald cypress turning color.

Birds: Great blue, buzzards, dark brown-black unidentified migrating birds, protothonary warbler, heard hawk, bluejay, kingfisher.

No butterflies, an occasional dragonfly.

Reptiles: 2 young alligators, no snakes sighted.

Turtles seen on trip downriver when temperatures were in the high 70’s and low 80’s.  We did some clearing of branches on the upper 1/3, but only where it would have impaired navigation.   We prefer not to tamper with what Nature bestows, inconvenient or not.

Some of the trees which were leaning into the water before we left in May have fallen into the creek.  On the lower 2/3’s which is wide, it does not hamper navigation; on the upper 1/3 it will hamper motor boat traffic since the trunks are just below the surface.

At the campground, the gopher tortoise was seen just leaving its burrow and it quickly backed down when I approached the fence which surrounds the burrow area.   Usually the tortoise does not react this way.  The new host (Mark and his wife Lea) mentioned that there has been a recent change in behaviour of the tortoise and he wondered whether someone had been harassing the tortoise.  In the past, the tortoise did not seem to object to being photographed.   It may be a different tortoise, although it seems the same size as the one photographed last year.

No signs of apple snails or eggs.

Orb weaving spiders all over creek.

Because the flowers were not as profuse, there were few wasps and other insects seen last year on the swamp sunflowers, the climbing hemp (already bloomed) and the climbing aster.

Warning:  When brushing against branches, watch out for ticks.  We both found ticks on ourselves after paddling.

In another section of Tate’s Hell received e-mail from Marti Miller, Recreation Director, Florida Forestry, Tallahassee Region, that the wildflowers are in full bloom on River Road, skirting the New River on the west side of the forest as a result of managed burns last winter.

May 25, 2014 (Sunday)

Memorial Day weekend and Ochlockonee River had a few boats which seemed to disregard the boat landing at Womack Creek Campground.

Temperature at put-in: 84, clear, calm, no breeze when we put-in, slight and welcomed breeze on the return trip in the last 2/3’s of the creek.

Very low tide — the lowest we recall this year.  The water was only up to the south bank of the landing site, incoming tide on the return trip, but even then the water line was the lowest we have ever seen this year.

Flowers in bloom in profusion:  roses, sweet bay, persea (with tiny blossoms), dahoon holly, green fly orchid on one tree with additional buds which means it will be blooming next week also.

About to bloom in profusion:  Swamp titi, Arrow wood, Muscadines, Clematis crispa

Critters: small alligators (4), turtles, kites in the air, a large barred owl on on a limb — was still there on the return trip.  Its mate joined it across the river on our trip down creek, squirrels, dragon flies, a fritillary butterfly, damsel flies and and an unwelcome horde of yellow flies which descended on us at the launch and on the upper third of the creek where the creek narrows.

Apple snail eggs:  never before sighted:  1 on alder, 1 on reed, 1 on dead branch  — all above water.  The one on the alder had a spider next to it.  Do spiders eat apple snail eggs or young when they hatch?   Will be posted as soon as the egg cases are verified.

May 18, 2014 (Sunday)

Temperature at put-in: 80 F, clear, calm, slight breeze on return, low humidity

Low tide:  water to metal rod; incoming tide on return trip

Flowers in bloom: predominantly roses, dahoon holly, cowcreek spider lily, in first branch on rr before entering Womack Creek, false dragonhead. Green fly orchids (1 stand) in bloom, another small section with bloom buds.

Fruiting:  blueberries, indications that birds or other creatures have been eating them, and blackberries.

Soon to bloom:  In profusion swamp titi, muscadine, southern arrowwood, persea — all white or cream colored blooms.

Birds: egret, prothonotary warbler (rather late) both male and female, heard sharp warning chip of hawk in the middle section of the creek where hawks have been sighted, woodpeckers and other birds unidentified.

Alligators:  15 inch sunning in protected matted grass area, 1 medium sized and 2 large — about 7 inches from snout to eyes.

Turtles: sunning where they could find branches; small young turtles on  a few spatterdock pads.

Dragonflies: 2 species

Damselfly:  1 species with an irridescent blue dot on tail.

Insects: yellow flies, a bronze winged insect which did not alight long enough to get proper look or photograph.

Water bugs.

Fish jumping when kayak approached; one fish hit one kayak with a loud thud before issuing a splash of water into the cockpit when it swum away.

Traffic: No other boats on Womack Creek.  At the landing, 3 jet skis, 3 motor boats, 1 canoe and 1 kayak on Ocklockonee.

May 11, 2014 (Sunday)

Temperature at put-in: 82 F, at take-out 86 F, cloudy, slight breeze, very humid

Low tide: water to first post and just a fit above the metal post.

Flowers in bloom:  predominantly roses, ogeche tupelo, dahoon holly and sweet bay

Flowers still to open or reach full blooming:  Persea, Poison Ivy, dahoon holly, swamp titi, southern arrowwood, cow creek spider lily, pickeral weed.

Birds seen: hawk, great blue heron, mother duck and 6 ducklings (brown speckled mother).

Birds heard:  red cockaded woodpecker, cardinal, barred owl andanother species unidentified.

Amphibians & reptiles: turtles, alligators

Other critters: spiders, a dragonfly with dark black abdomen, water bugs,  mosquitoes, gnats, yellow flies

May 5, 2014 (Monday)

Temperature at put-in: 68 F, at take-out, 86F; clear sky, slight breeze

Water:  Ocklockonee River running fast, high, eddies at put-in.   Camp host (Sandy) noted that water on landing went down 7 feet in 12 hours; about 1 foot of actual depth.   At put-in water level was at 2 1/2 posts from river.  Tide coming in at put-in, at take-out going out.

Route: WC  with short exploration on branch on river left to Nick’s Road Primitive Camp Site.  Water high at Primitive Camp site landing, but land soggy for about 10 feet beyond water’s edge, indicating that water was much higher earlier.

New blooms:  Ogeche tupelo in full bloom, Virginia sweetspire, False indigo,  Narrowleaf evening primrose, Dahoon and American hollies, Swamp rose, Cowcreek Spider Lily, one clematis crispa, Spatterdock and another still to be identified aquatic plant.

Waning blooms:  Swamp dogwood, Swamp sweetbells, American wisteria

Bloom expected in 1 week:  Swamp titi, Muscadines, Persea, Sweet Bay, Southern Arrow-wood

Insects:  dragonflies, bumblebees, hornets, honeybees (on false indigo and ogeche tupelo), lady bug, unidentified insects

Butterflies: none seen

Reptiles:  3 species of snakes; snakes were on bushes, high above the water

Amphibians:  Turtles

Birds:  Hawk, heard barred owl and woodpeckers.

Water test: 2:41pm

Ambient Air: 30 C

Water temp: 23 C

Dissolved oxygen: 4ppm

pH:  7

Turbidity: 40 JTU

April 10, 2014 (Thursday)

Temperature: 68 degrees, clear, low tide, no breeze at 10:17 am.

Route: WC to Nick’s Road primitive camp site and back (no branches covered)

New blooms:  Yaupon holly, American holly, Swamp sweetbells, Rusty Haw, Swamp dogwood, American snow bells, adjuja and Virginia willow.

Still blooming: pinxter azaleas still going strong, blackberry blossoms, cross vines, fringe trees (in full bloom).

Trees budding: ogeche tupelo, immature small flower balls.

Critters: 3 alligators, squirrels, turtles

Insects & butterflies: swallowtails, dragon flies, various flies

Birds: kingfisher, wood pecker heard, not seen, buzzard.

Water test:  2:37pm

Ambient air temperature:  23 C

Water temperature: 20C

Dissolved Oxygen:  4 ppm

pH:  7

Turbidity:  40 JTU

April 2, 2014 (Wednesday)

Temperature at put-in 68 F at 10:25am, no breeze, calm water, high tide.

Route:  WC to Nick’s Road Campsite and back (no branches covered)

New blooms:  Fringe tree (6 sighted on RL and 7 noted on RR on upper 1/3 after branch, 6 on lower 2/3 of creek), these are on riverside and also growing tall behind pinxters and other lower blooming shrubs. Blackberries are blooming throughout.   Still blooming pinxter azaleas with new bushes still in bud — this seems to be a good year for azaleas.   Oaks are in full bloom giving a bronze-yellowish caste to the tree tops.

Waning blooms:  parsley haw noticeable still on upper 1/3, Walters viburnum all but bloomed out.  Wax myrtle at end of their blooming period.

Colors: maples in their bronze leaf stage, ash in darker light green, hornbeams darker light green, cypresses beginning to leaf — light green.

Just wakening:  tupelos indication of budding.

Critters: egret, kingfisher, other songbirds could be heard, woodpecker could be heard, one large alligator, every log/branch had turtles of all sizes.

March 25, 2014 (Tuesday)

Temperature at put-in 68 F at 10:50 am, sunny, cool, current fast, but not as fast as previous week. Water level above normal in creek, at landing about normal.  Take out 3:40pm.

Route:  WC for 2.5 miles to branch for .7 miles close to Ochlockonee with water flow indicating water from Ochlockonee, back to main channel of creek, to Nick’s (6.1 miles), then back to WC.  10 + miles.

New plants:  elderberry, previously noted, still there, no GPS until it blooms, first branch left on Ochlockonee (RR).

Blooming:  Walters viburnum still in full bloom on lower 2/3’s, peaking in upper 1/3; parsley haw in full bloom in lower 2/3’s, not as conspicuous on upper 1/3; blackberry beginning to bloom; pink blackberry blossom in full bloom; cross vine (high in trees); fringe tree beginning to bloom, in main fork (2.5 miles upstream) one small plant in full bloom; wax myrtle’s in good flower; swamp jessamine continuing to bloom; swamp buttercup now above water, blooming more profusely.  Green fly orchid still not in bloom.

Leafing:  Maples vary from red to bronze, none in light green yet; hornbeam turning a darker shade of light green; sweet gum light green; oaks beginning new leaf with flowers; ash darker light green; tupelo still dormant except for 2 trees at top with better sun exposure; more bald cypresses leafing.

Insects: More butterflies, swallowtails mainly; carpenter bees, other insects.  Turtles abound.  In first branch (with elderberry), explored beyond usual area because of higher water, returning, on a large log a racoon. Returning downstream, sound of shrieks and shrill angry sounds, Ed saw a pair of racoons mating on a branch parallel to water.  As we approached they scrambled down and sought cover in palmettos.  Kite flying overhead at campground.  Critters on creek which we have seen but not been able to photograph: deer, racoons, squirrels, hawk, green heron, buzzard (live), robin, kingfisher, kite.

March 21, 2014 (Friday)

Temperature at put-in 65 F, 10:20am; at take-out 3:20pm 75F.  Ocklockonee River is flowing very fast.  Rains of previous Sunday and Monday over an already saturated area have created high water.  At the landing, the iron post has water halfway up.  The water extended to the third fence post from the river.  Palmetto plants about half covered in water.

In the first branch on river right, about 1/3 mile from put-in, saw what looks like an elderberry bush.  There are a lot of elderberry further down river on the Ocklockonee, but none noticed before on Womack.  This area is not technically Womack Creek, but when it blooms, we will get a better ID on it.   Glad to see it is a native plant.

Insects are returning:  swallowtails, dragon flies, honey bees, carpenter bees.

Plants blooming:  Walter’s viburnum on lower 2/3’s full bloom, beginning to seed on upper 1/3.  Parsley hawthorne in full bloom throughout.  Azaleas in full bloom, with some plants still in buds — probably to bloom within a week.  Blackberry just barely starting to bloom.  Swamp jessamine flowers more noticeable.   Oak tree leaves gone, blooms beginning.  Ash trees in pale green; Hornbeam turning to darker shade of spring green; cypresses beginning to leaf.   Some blueberries already forming fruit, although many bushes are still bearing flowers.

Critters: A few turtles — with high water, their logs are all submerged.  A kingfisher only bird seen, although the hawk could be heard in the upper 1/3.     At night the barred owls could be heard.

Water level:  Because the water extended beyond the trees at the landing, we were able to paddle over the log barrier which had previously stopped us upstream from Nick’s Road Primitive Camp Site.  Oscar Sanders stopping by Nick’s Road said that at one time one could have taken that creek up to the Ocklockonee.  We turned toward the Ocklockonee and then the creek turned to the north and west before there was no noticeable current or trail and the trees were too close to be able to discern a way foward.  We were hoping to find the way to Hway 67.    At big stand of azaleas are in full bloom about 1/3 mile upstream from Nick’s landing.

Water current:  We made the 4 miles back in less than an hour with 2 stops to take observations in less than 1 hour.  The current was unusually fast-running.   On the Ocklockonee debris were sailing at a rapid rate in the flood waters.

Water testing, 4:20pm

Air temperature 26 C

Water temperature 20 C

Dissolved Oxygen 4 ppm

pH    6

Turbidity 40 JTU

March 18, 2014 (Tuesday)

Temperature 72 at put-in from Nick’s Road Primitive Camp Site where we planned to camp overnight with 2 mothers and 4 children 6,9,10, 12.   Temperature at take-out 4 miles  downriver at Womack Creek Campground landing, 76.   River running fast; Ochlockonee running even faster.  Blue sky, few clouds.

Rainfall Sunday 6 inches in Carrabelle, 1 inch on Monday.  River at Nick’s Road Landing higher than we have ever seen; some water on Nick’s landing road, but passable.  2 days after full moon, tide variation greater.

Blooming: Walter’s viburnum in full bloom; parsley haw in bloom;  blackberry beginning to bloom; pinxter azaleas double the number of blooming shrubs since Thursday.   Buttercups all under water.

Children saw water snake upriver from Nick’s camp site (3/19/2014).   Barred owls at night.  A few mosquitoes.   Moon rising around 10 pm.

This weekend will be a great time to see pinxster, Walters and parsley haws in bloom.

March 13, 2014 (Thursday)

Putting in temperature at 11:00 am in 50’s with 10 mph wind blowing; take out at 1:15 in 60’s with wind still blowing, blue sky, choppy water on Ochlockonee, moderate in Womack Creek, low tide requiring some maneuvering around low areas close to Nick’s Road primitive camp site.  Large banks exposed which created feeding spots for egrets, a colony of 8, and green heron, probably the same green heron we saw the week before.

The egrets were on the trees on river left at the confluence of Womack Creek and the Ochlockonee, protected somewhat from the winds.   They flew upriver and continued to do so until we reached the branch; when we return via the branch we caught up with them again.   They seemed less and less intimidated by us as we followed them upstream.   They were feeding in the exposed banks.

Barnacles:  Because the water was extremely low, we were able to locate barnacles 1.8 miles from the put-in.  We are using barnacles as a surrogate for salinity since barnacles need brackish water.

Blooming:  Walters viburnum in full bloom creekside and in the interior;  1 parsley haw will be blooming in a week; a few more pinxster azaleas in bloom, but not large stands as in 2011; yellow swamp buttercups on the floor of the forest; nothing noticeably blooming.  Tupelos still dormant; sweet gum and hornbeam leafing out.

Water:  Although there was rain the day before, and the ditches on the roads to Womack Creek Campground were full, the water did not seem turbid.

Animals:  turtles basking, 1 small alligator near the wading egret, osprey at confluence,  green heron, possibly a warbler, robin, turkey buzzards.  No butterflies seen as a week ago, no bees seen.

No other boats on creek.

 March 8, 2014 (Saturday)

Putting in temperature at 9:30 in 50’s, taking-out at 11:20am in high 60’s, no wind, blue sky, no current to speak of in Womack Creek.   Put-in at low tide, rising ride at take-out.

Previous two days rain.

Barnacles:  No sightings of barnacles.

Blooming:  Walters Viburnum fully blooming in upper 1/3, beginning to bloom in lower 2/3’s of Creek.  Heavy stands of Walters in upper 1/3.  Pinxster azaleas — 5 bushes, 3 in upper 1/3; not as many bushes as in 2011 (heavy rains of 2012, 2013 resulted in creek-side bushes washed into creek and alders seem to be taking over where azaleas once were growing, years previous to that were ones of low rainfall and therefore probably encouraged azalea growth in those years).  Golden club in more shady areas beginning to bloom.   Blueberry blossoms still heavy in lower 2/3’s; on upper 1/3 of creek tender leaves are developing and green blueberries visible.  This may be a good year for blueberries. One swamp jessamine blooming, buds on vine.  Another small bunch of green fly orchid located.  Wax Myrtle female blossoms blooming; more prevalent in lower 2/3’s of creek.   Oak trees in lower 2/3’s still shedding leaves, one tree in upper 1/3 beginning to show light green sheaths.  Ash blossoms not as pronounced as previous year, still not determined whether we have two species: pumpkin and Carolina.  Sweet gums are all beginning to bloom.  Tupelo still not budding.

Critters:   1 blue heron, two turtles, 2 goldfinch, 1 warbler type bird, barred owls raising a ruckus in the woods.  Saw one fritillary butterfly on the perimeter of the forest and a black swallowtail flitting among the Viburnums.

Boats:  2 jon boats, one in branch, the other going up and down  as we were headed downriver.  They are always considerate leaving minimum wake.

General observations:  Blooming seems later this year.  Moss throughout, lush — more than we usually see.  Even at low tide, interior of woods seems cut through with water passages.  The branches are widening and we will have to start GPS marking them and and including them in our survey.   Creek upstream from Nick’s Campsite open.

February 28, 2014 (Friday)

Blooming:  Upper 1/3 after branch, Walters viburnum bushes in various stages of blooming.  Blueberries still in bloom, buttercup, 1 clematis crispa, 1 early pinxter azalea bush in lower 2/3’s, pumpkin ash tree in bloom, oaks about to bloom.  There will be a good crop of blueberries starting in late May.

Boats: 1 jon boat fisherman anchored near Ochlockonee River, 1 sit on top kayaker  from Georgia, who winters in St. George Island, who found that current in the upper 1/3 (after branch) was too strong for him

Barnacles:  Another type of barnacles found, will need to identify both species.

February 9, 2014

Foggy, temperature at 10:40 am 60 F, water as calm as we have seen, hardly any current.

Blooming:  Red maple trees are all in bloom (photo in post),  blueberries still in bloom and do not seem to have been affected by the freeze of the week before, alder catkins, Walters Viburnum beginning to bloom from Branch at 2.5 miles from put-in to Nick’s Road Primitive Camp site.

In bud:  Walters Viburnum in lower 2/3’s of creek (from Nick’s Road site), azaleas probably will be opening in 1 month.  Buds while not sparse, may not be as spectacular as in 2011.   Ash trees which were in bloom this time last year show no sign of buds.

Birds: The woods were full of bird song, particularly in the upper third section. Saw more birds today than we have ever seen on that creek:  robins, great blue heron, kingfisher, hawk, a warbler with red tinges, gold finches, cormorants, anhinga, buzzards, 2 species of ducks.  Sound of barred owl in woods.  A dead buzzard on a tree, which wings unfurled, probably shot by  recently (photo in post) in section upstream from Nick’s Road camp site.

Other animals:  Turtles, mostly the larger ones, out sunning; 1 doe, the first we have ever seen from the creek.

New plants:  Bartram’s airplant, 1 clump.   Previous stand of green fly orchids, growing on bark of dead tree, no longer there — the bark of that tree has been stripped; new stand discovered with larger clumps than previous stand.

Barnacles:   Anticipating the coastal module, we are using barnacles as salinity indicator.  The highest upstream point where we had previously noted barnacles are absent this crustacean .  Today’s  sightings puts them further downstream.   We are still doing research on the species and habits of barnacles.  We wonder whether wading birds or other birds use the shells as supplement to their diet to help their gizzards to break down food.

Water quality:  Using the World Water Challenge kits we have been monitoring the water at the campground land for pH, turbidity and dissolved oxygen.   Changes since 1/15/14:

Date                                                  1/15/14                                      2/9/14

Time                                                  2:58pm                                     4:15pm

Air temp                                           64F                                            72F

Water temp                                     57F                                             57F

Dissolved Oxygen                          8                                                 4

pH                                                     6                                                 7

Turbidity                                          0JTU                                        0JTU

January 15, 2014   

10:45 am-3:30pm  15 minute lunch stop at Nick’s Road Primitive Camp site   low tide  sunny temperature in high 50’s early, 64 at 3:30 pm.   water was calm throughout, including on the Ochlockonee

Blooming:  blueberries and alder are blooming                                                                                                                                                 In bud: Walter’s viburnum upstream from branch, looked for signs of red maple buds, but could not find any.  Red maples blooming on Lake Talquin, area of Joe Budd Wildlife Management Area 1/13/2014.                                                                       Fruit:   Nothing left of the dahoon, American holly and yaupon berries, and nothing left of the wax myrtle berries.  Only one dahoon plant with green berries (unripened) was left with its fruit intact.                                                                                      Birds:   first egret we have seen on that creek, 2 cormorants, possible phoebe, smaller unidentified birds.  Upper 1/3 had a lot more birds than we have ever seen or heard:  2 hawks (possible broad winged?), one hawk was perched on a tree near Nick’s camp site, swooped down to capture a small mammal and then flew off.  A Ruddy Duck male (?), blue jay and either a female cardinal or robin, other smaller unidentified birds.                                                                                                                                 Other animals:   7 turtles, one before noon, 6  after 1pm.    Signs of small mammal clawing at a rotting stump at Nick’s Road camp site, but could not identify paw print.   Saw only 1 honeybee.   (The hives on Rock Landing Road are still there.)        Barnacles:  seen to be located about lower downriver than in December observation.  Not sure if this can be used as an indicator of salinity.                                                                                                                                                                                               Water sample*:    air temp 64 F, water temp 57.2F, dissolved oxygen 78%, pH 6, Turbidity 0JTU

Alders seem to be taking over the banks in areas where azaleas thrived.  Many azaleas plants have either been lost in the creek during high water or are not putting out buds.  Rain seems to be a major factor in the number of azalea bushes thriving and 2012 and 2013 were high rainfall years in that creek.  Lots of trees with very exposed tree roots without soil on bank (low tide).