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Scored a couple of wins today

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

For the first time since I’ve been at Okefenokee, I awoke to rain this morning.  It was a rather wet and soaking time for Emma’s first outs.  I am having to set my alarm for work days here to ensure I have enough time to take care of Emma, eat breakfast, get a refuge vehicle, and be where I’m supposed to be on time.  My morning assignment was to ‘Roam’ before spending the afternoon working the VC.  I wasn’t too optimistic about the roaming in the rain, but as it turned out, the showers quit by the time I hit the roads.

IMG_0749I decided to walk the Upland Discovery Trail since it is short (.2 miles).  I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t encounter any visitors this early, but I felt it was a distance I could handle with my present walking issues.  It turned out to be one of those occasions when low expectations for ‘discovery’ were way off base.

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The trail makes its way along a loop through an upland long-leafed pine stand with an understory of palmettos.  As it turned out, I observed four different species of woodpeckers on this short walk.

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First up, I observed several yellow-bellied sapsuckers pecking away on the pines.  Every time I see one of these sapsuckers I’m reminded of that old 50’s TV program where a rather nerdy ‘Pamela Livingston’ was depicted as a weirdo bird watcher in khaki shorts and shirt with big binoculars hanging around her neck.  Can’t remember the name of that show.  Anybody know what I’m talking about?  I think in the series she worked for a photographer.

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Then I came upon another pair of pileated woodpeckers.  I swear, I’ve never been at a place where it is so easy to see these crow sized woodpeckers almost every day.  I believe this species was the inspiration for Woody Woodpecker.

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A little further along the trail, I came upon my first photographic Coue of the day.  It was a red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW).  The red-cockaded woodpecker is an endangered species with a very interesting lifestyle that I’ll talk about in a post of its own some time.  Okefenokee is famous for having a viable population of these birds, and I was happy to get some photos.  If you enlarge each of these photos, you’ll be able to notice the color bands on the the left hand shot, and the silver USFWS band on the right shot.  They are endangered because of the loss of the live long-leafed pine habitat in the south.  I also saw several red-bellied woodpeckers, but couldn’t get a decent shot of them.

IMG_0735I also fleetingly saw several of these wrens moving around through the palmettos, but never could get them to sit still long enough for a positive ID.  For such a short trail, it held many wonders for me, and will be a definite consideration to include in my bird tour proposal.

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I can’t hardly not include a picture of an alligator in any drive I make around the refuge.  It kind of surprised me to find one out and about so early in the day after the rain and cooler temperatures. 

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Just before having lunch and heading for my afternoon in the VC, I drove to headquarters hoping to touch base with Gracie Gooch, the volunteer coordinator, to see if a decision had been made about me setting up my Hard Rock Bird Café.  Some refuges allow volunteers to put up bird feeders, and others do not.  I was awaiting a decision.  One of the hazards of doing so is having to deal with squirrels, and at Okefenokee they have the ‘mother’ of all squirrels.  It’s the fox squirrel, and is about three times the size of the normal grey squirrel. 

I had been hoping to get some pics of these monster rodents, and today it happened (win #2).  I don’t know if they’d bother my feeders, but seeing the live oak acorn in this guy’s mouth makes me guess I’ll have my challenges if I’m allowed to open the cafe.  Disappointed smile  (The music from “Rocky” is beginning to play in my head.)

I’m off to the Mayo Clinic tomorrow.  I’ve been trying to keep my mind occupied not thinking about it.  Eye rolling smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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