Friday, November 9, 2012

Footprints in the sand

It was back to work for me today, and I started out spending the morning working in the VC.  We had an elementary school visiting today with 88 exuberant young students invading the refuge.  They were divided into four groups that rotated between four different activity stations.  One of those stations was the VC where Edythe and I tried to harness their energy into a learning experience.  By 1:00, I was pretty well worn out, and barely able to walk. 


I made a quick stop back at the rig to let Emma out and inhale lunch before heading to the Chesser Homestead where I was to be oriented to being a docent.  There was a slight mix up in assignments, and no one arrived to show me the ropes.  Sad smile  So, after sitting on the cabin porch in a rocker for an hour, (I know, tough work but somebody has to do it!) I headed out to rove for the afternoon.  I took the electric cart down Phernetton Freeway to see what I could see.


It’s not your ordinary run of the mill Freeway.  It’s actually a lumpy sandy refuge back road that parallels the wildlife drive.  It ends up back on the Chesser Island paved road eventually, but I took it hoping to see some wildlife that avoids the main drag.  Not much was out and about at that time in the afternoon, but I discovered that this sandy road is actually a freeway of sorts for wildlife.

71 Okefenokee NWR 2012-139

My biggest surprise was to find these fresh bear footprints!  See the dimples in the sand surrounding the prints?  They were caused by Wednesday’s rain, so these prints really are rather fresh.  The hair on my neck prickled a little as I got out of the open air cart to get these photos.


As I was taking those photos, I found the print of a fox nearby.  It’s hard to tell size in these pics, but this print was too small to be from a coyote, and the nail imprints eliminated the thought of a bobcat for me.


As I carefully looked around, I found many deer tracks as well.  Some were a pretty good size, and some were rather small.


Last but not least, I found the print of a wild turkey.  All of these animals had been on this back road in the last 24-48 hours.  I guess freeway is a pretty good name for this road, at least as far as wildlife is concerned.


On my return trip down the wildlife loop, I spotted this young alligator posing as a small log in one of the roadside pools.  I was glad I stopped and backed up to verify that this wasn’t a big stick in the water. Smile  Some German visitors saw me taking pictures and stopped behind me.  I was able to help them spot this youngster.  That’s one of the fun parts of roving; helping the visiting public to ‘see’ what they are driving past.


Of course, in the back of my mind while I’m roving, I’m always looking for places to take visitors on the bird tour I’m developing.  The more I’m out and about, the more familiar I get with where to find the birds.  After this afternoon, I’ve added one more place to try to find the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker to the tour.  This bird had two green over one yellow bands on its right leg.  I really need to talk to the biologist about my sightings of these birds.  Knowing the history of specific birds can add a nifty touch to the tours.Winking smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy