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Carnivorous Vegetarians?

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Is that an oxymoron?   My assignment for the first half of my day at work yesterday was to ‘roam’.  What that means is that I’m supposed to wander along the Swamp Island Wildlife Drive, mingle with the visitors, and provide interpretive services to anyone I encounter along the way.  Since helping the public to enjoy our National Wildlife Refuges and understand what they are seeing is one of my favorite things to do, I was really looking forward to this time.

However, there aren’t very many visitors driving around early on a Tuesday morning in late October on the refuge.  So after my first lonely drive around the loop, I decided to concentrate on finding the carnivorous pitcher plants that are found in this area.  I figured if anyone drove by, noticed the official vehicle, and saw me getting into contortions to take photos, they might ask me what I was looking at.  I could then launch into an explanation of these most interesting plants.

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I took these photos of the pitcher plants near Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR last April.  There are two different varieties found on this refuge, so I was excited about documenting them.

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The first variety I found were the hooded pitcher plants.  Because it was only in the low 40’s, I didn’t have to worry too much about alligators.  It was a bit too chilly for them to be moving about.  These hooded varieties don’t seem to have that frilly top to them that I found in Mississippi.

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The second variety I was looking for and found was the parrot pitcher plant.  Last April, a huge tractor was used to mow the wildlife drive roadside for some reason, and most of the pitcher plants were chopped off.  Luckily, they started to grow back, but you can see evidence of the mowing.  These parrot pitchers grow low to the ground and spread out in a circle, rather than standing up straight.  I was quite pleased to find a few growing back.  Pitcher plants are exactly that… plants, but they lure insects into their openings to get trapped and digested.  They can’t get all the nourishment they need from the soil, so they’ve evolved into carnivorous plants. 

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                                                            “ALRIGHT RECRUITS… TEN HUT!!”

When I got back to the rig and looked at my photos, I just couldn’t help but think of some subtitles.  Nerd smile

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                                    “DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE TRAVELING SALESMAN…?”

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“WHEN I WAS YOUNG, SON, I HAD TO WALK TWO MILES UPHILL AND BACK IN THE SNOW TO GET TO SCHOOL!”

This morning, I finally got to meet with Gracie Gooch, the volunteer coordinator, about my time here.  First up on my agenda was to talk about my hip problems.  She was very open to my plans to have it all investigated at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, and to support whatever I have to get done to get back to normal.  That was a great relief to me.  I wonder if my brother, Kurt, would consider coming to Okefenokee to help me out if surgery is in my future?  I’ll be calling the Mayo clinic tomorrow to get the ball rolling.

I then spoke with the assistant manager of the refuge about developing some bird tour programs here.  Although the refuge is on the Coastal Birding Route, they’ve never had bird tours here since they’ve never had any volunteers interested or qualified to lead bird tours before.  Color me happy!  I’ll be investigating and developing a proposal for such a program during the next couple of weeks.  I really think I’m going to like it here!  Open-mouthed smile 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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