Monday, April 23, 2007

Exploring The Lower Suwannee Refuge With Katie

With Mrs. FC and Emma cruising to Mexico, and Jr. down in Palm Beach for a Student Government convention, I took my first baby out for a cruise through the 53,000 acre Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge.

It was a spectacular spring day outside. She had been sitting inside working on some college stuff and chain watching the new Animal Planet series.

I told her I knew where there was one, ... would she like to go see it?

A short while later we were cruising, windows down, Bama Breeze blasting, down the two lane country road that leads to the refuge.

We walked the .4 mile river trail down to the ... um ... river. The trail snakes through a drought dry cypress and gum swamp to the banks of the Suwannee. With no rain there's no mosquitoes, so a trail that would normally require running the mosquito gauntlet turned out to be very pleasant.

The swamp floor was carpeted with lizard tails, grasses, and some lovely blueflag iris. As the trail approaches the river, it becomes a boardwalk that carries you over the usually wetter swamp floor.
After walking the river trail, we drove our favorite loop road that winds through about 9 miles of refuge land. Much of this route is through remnant planted pines from the days before the refuge was purchased. The piney woods aren't especially interesting, but the USFWS is now harvesting some of the mature (pulpwood) pines in a habitat restoration project. It should just get better and better.
My favorite spot along this road is a side road that snakes out into the Gulf marshes near Barnett Creek. By the time Barnett Creek makes it to this little causeway, it's become mostly fresh and flows through rushes that stand a good six feet above the water line. An incoming tide was silently pushing the creek waters upstream into the palm forest. This is a place where bluegill and mullet mingle, Both were dimpling and swirling the surface.
In the last picture, Katie Bug has found something where the creek slips through two culverts beneath the road.
I'll show you what she found tomorrow ... or this evening if I just can't stand it.
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Laura said...

Enjoyed this visual trip since I've never been there before. The last pic of Katie on the dirt road reminds me of old Florida, that's something you don't see much anymore.

pissed off patricia said...

Thank goodness it's protected land!

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

This looks like a gorgous area to explore. You're fortunate to live so close to these spots (and to have a daughter who enjoys visiting them with the "old man").

Thunder Dave said...

It looks like you guy's had a beautiful day to get out and about!

scott said...

Is this anywhere near Cross Creek?

Here is where the we are going next week for a little r & r.

robin andrea said...

What a nice way to spend the day, hanging out in a Natural Wildlife Refuge with your Katie Bug. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what she was seeing.

Paintsmh said...

Ahh. So wonderfully green.

rcwbiologist said...

That picture with all the lizard tail reminds me of the Carolina Bay, Woods Bay, that I worked in a couple of years ago. What a great relaxing day of hiking you had.

Cathy said...

All that beauty and I can't even console myself that you had to swat at mosquitoes ;0)

All that AND a very sweet-looking traveling companion to share it with . . .

Floridacracker said...

It's real FL all right, real scarce.

And thank the Nature Conservancy and the generations of hunters and fishers whose license fees and duck stamps paid for this land.

Lucky on both counts.

Gorgeous 80's and low humidity. Sun, sun, sun.

About 50 miles west of CC. Enjoy the GSMNP. I lived in the park during the winter of '81.

Here's a hint. It was small, secretive, and railly, railly cool.

So green that even I was awed.

Don't worry, they'll be leaving lots of pines for the RCW's.

No mosquitoes, but out at the marsh the sand gnats reminded us we were just visitors there.

pablo said...

Do I own this refuge?

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You found a thingamgidget and are keeping it all to yourself. Rats.

Floridacracker said...

Yes, you do!
I failed to mention that this time!

It was a shameless teaser.