Saturday, May 19, 2018

Such a Softie...Apalone ferox

When I was a kid,riding in the car, I would beg my Dad to stop for turtles we saw crossing the road.
I mean, every time I saw one.

"Are you crazy boy? I'm going 65 mph and it's pouring!"

 It wasn't my current enlightened, "let's help it across the road" turtlephillic motivation though.
No, it was more the "Can I keep it? Huh? Can I keep it?" philosophy.

I was a just a tad reptile crazed from birth to ... how old am I?
So, ... the crazed part has mellowed, and I know not to bring every turtle home to my wild homestead, but I still get that "Oh boy, a turtle!" feeling when I see one as I drive along.

These days, when it's safe for both of us, I move turtles off the road (yes, in the direction they were going)...snakes too.

Recently I was driving on a 2 lane rural road that bisects an intermittent pond called, "Long Pond" when I spotted a big brown lump in the road.

Even from a distance, I could tell it was a huge softshell turtle. I assumed it had already been killed since it remained motionless as I approached.

I pulled over to look at it, and surprise! It was perfectly fine.
So being familiar with the long, lightning fast, bitey-ended neck of the softshell, I grabbed a piece of PVC pipe to shoo it off the road. I poked, I prodded, I spoke encouragingly ...
Well, she was having none of that. She engaged full braking mode and was not gonna move.

So I grabbed her from behind, held her way out in front of me to avoid that neck, and carried her off the road.

The video tells the story, complete with post turtle "rescue" elation.

Apalone ferox

Monday, March 26, 2018

SUWANNEE SPRING ... with Fangorn

Let's go for a Spring walkabout at Suwannee River State Park. Do it now while the new foliage has that Spring glow to it, the humidity is down, and the mosquitoes are few and far between.
Like most Florida state parks that border on water, the boat ramp at the park is excellent. I was "sans kayak" on this day as my goal was just to revisit a park that I had not been to in a very long time.
There's a trailhead near the boat ramp, so after inspecting the ramp, I headed off into the river forest. 
The trail flows through the floodplain of the river than into some uplands and back along the river bank. 
This walk was Spring 2017 and the river was low, so much of the floodplain was exposed.
The floodplain trees, buttressed against the river which often covers their base, were easy to access.
These old giants have met the challenge of years of living in an ecosystem that was alternately dry, like now, but also submerged when the rains come.
This is a gnarly old tree lover's part of the trail. (So, what I mean by that is it is a trail for folks who love gnarly old trees ...not a trail for gnarly old humans who love trees.
If the shoe fits though ...
I was glad I came during a low river stage and could walk among the trees and the exposed rocky sinks.

Of course, big trees have big knees.
I mean REALLY big knees.

After dawdling in the exposed floodplain for a ridiculously long time, I hit my stride through the uplands section. It was pretty, but very similar to my personal habitat here at PFHQ.
Besides, there was a river and a spring to see.

 The trail back to the boat ramp offers great views of this beautiful National Scenic River.
As you walk along the river trail and approach the boat ramp again, you can hear Lime Spring before you ever see it.
Lime Spring is a treat.
It bubbles out of the river bank and tumbles into the Suwannee. Seeing the spring like this depends on the river's level of course.

If you go to Suwannee River State Park and you are very lucky, you might meet the Ent below.

 Believe me, I was as surprised as anyone when Fangorn strolled up and asked for a selfie.
Seems he's a fan of Pure Florida, so I had to oblige.