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Off to see the sandhills

Monday, 22 October 2012

Not cranes this time but Carolina sandhills at:

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One of the reasons I chose Florence, SC, to stop at for three nights was to be able to visit this National Wildlife Refuge.  This refuge has been around since 1939, and supports the largest population of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker on Fish and Wildlife Service lands.  I didn’t see any of these woodpeckers in my travels today, but I wasn’t there at the most opportune time of the day. 

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The characteristic habitat of the refuge is the longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem.  After spending a couple of days with my friend, Jack, last winter in Mississippi hunting down longleaf pine needles for his pine needle basket making hobby, my eye just naturally sought out the longest needles in the forest.  This young tree had needles that stretched from my fingertips to my elbow.

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After stopping at headquarters to get a stamp for my NWR Passport, Emma and I drove a short distance down the wildlife drive to take a short hike on one of the established trails on the refuge.  This one had signage telling you about the longleaf pine forest and its inhabitants.

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Along the Wildlife Drive, numerous refuge ponds can be viewed.  It was a glorious wind free day for appreciating and reflecting.

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The overall fall colors are not as vibrant as you might find in the Appalachian Mountains, but individual trees aren’t too shabby.  The brilliant blue skies made a wonderful backdrop.

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As I approached this pond, I heard the familiar rattle of a belted kingfisher.  Aha!  That’s one of the birds that I’ve struggled to get a decent picture of.  Karen, of RV Travels With Karen and Al, and I have both had this bird on our wish list for a good live Smile shot.

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These are my latest attempts to beat Karen to the punch.  Too far away to be good, but I’m getting closer.  What do you think, Karen?

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If nothing else, this refuge has very scenic ponds to enjoy.  A black powder hunt for deer was going on today while I was there, but I only saw a few hunters, and none of them seemed to have had any success.  I had packed a lunch, so Emma and I enjoyed the picnic area that was available overlooking a small lake. 

Being out on a refuge and enjoying nature tops my list of things I enjoy, so today was a two thumbs up day for me.  I also spoke to the refuge manager while I was at their headquarters to enquire about RV volunteer opportunities.  They do have one RV sight, but they’ve had the same volunteer for the last eight years.  That volunteer is taking this year off, but alas, I’m already committed to Okefenokee for the winter. 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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