Sunday, November 11, 2012

West versus East

There are over 400,000 acres included in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.  I am parked at a site on the east entrance to the refuge.  Today, my roving assignment took me and another new volunteer couple to the west entrance to the refuge.  It’s not easy to get to the west entrance from here and took us about 90 minutes of travel through Georgia and a part of Florida to get there.  The west entrance is through the Stephan C. Foster State Park.  The state park is considered a concessionaire to this entrance to the refuge.

_MG_1183As a part of our orientation activities, we would participate in a boat tour of this part of the refuge provided by Georgia State Park staff.  The western part of the refuge is a lot different from the eastern part. 


The east side has lots of open wet prairies, but the west side has the cypress areas that are more familiar to my thinking's of a swamp.  Logging companies took out most of the old growth cypress trees in the area during the 1930’s but the cypress  swamp has returned after they left.


We had perfect weather for a boat tour of the swamp, and encountered many birds along out tour.  There are many more trees draped with Spanish moss on this side of the swamp that provide perching spots for a multitude of juvenile little blue herons.

IMG_0837These young birds seemed to appear around every bend.  It must have been a great nesting year for these herons.  About three quarters of the refuge was effected by the fires in 2011,but things have really bounced back from then.

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We were even lucky enough to get a sighting of the endangered wood stork on our journey into the swamp.


We saw tons of juvenile little blue herons, but only one adult bird today.  Most of my time on the tour was taken up with snapping pictures along the way.  What an enchanting place this Okefenokee swamp is!


We saw several white ibis as we made our way.  As volunteers, we didn’t have to pay for this tour, but the charge for this 90 minute float through the swamp only costs $15 should you visit here.  I think it is well worth the cost if you find yourself near Fargo, GA.


Just imagine yourself floating through this primordial cypress swamp.  What a great way to spend a Sunday morning!  I was happy to see many folks taking advantage of this interesting area in canoes and kayaks.   There’s a great picnic area where we had lunch, and camping for tenters and RVs as well within walking distance of the paddling trails.  On the way back home, we even had a great view of a barred owl flying across the road to the woods.  It was a very enjoyable day for me learning more about this area of Georgia.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy