but when we arrived in South Carolina, it was a completely different world.
|No ice, green grass|
|Ducklings and goslings had already hatched out.|
I always try to visit habitats in climates that are completely different from New England, and a great contrast is the swampland of the Lowcountry.
|Knees of cypress trees grow upwards from their roots in the swamp; their purpose is still unknown|
It is so flat here that you can walk for five miles and not gain six feet of elevation. Tens of thousands of square miles of South Carolina swamps were converted to rice fields in the 1700s and 1800s but as that crop ended in the early 20th century the rice fields were either developed or left to return to natural vegetation - very similar to New Hampshire's sheep pastures that have returned to forest.
|Irrigation canals built to flood and drain the rice fields can still be found.|
|The raised dike on the left separates salt water marsh from the impounded rice fields|
Because this land was forested these trees are less than 150 years old, so not nearly as large as the virgin bottomland forest found at Congaree National Park.
We saw quite a few local birds, some that we don't have in in New England, some that we do.
|The wood stork probes deep in the muck with its long, sensitive beak for fish and other wetland animals|
|Red-bellied Woodpecker next to the opening to its nest|
|Tricolored heron, a bit smaller than the Great Blue|
|Brown Pelican at Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, SC|
We were also treated to an unexpected sight - we got to see a green anole change its color. We first saw it climbing on the trunk of a tree, wearing its bright green jacket in honor of the Masters golf tournament.
But when it scooted down to the ground and onto the dead leaves it almost immediately changed its color to a dark brown.
I was amazed at how quickly it could completely transform itself, and I assumed it changed color to blend in. But a little reading revealed that these reptiles do not change color to blend in to their surroundings as commonly believed (which makes sense since on the brown tree trunk it was bright green.) Scientists are not sure, but current research suggests they change their color based on stress, mood, or for social reasons - e.g. aggression and territory defense. Did I stress this little guy out by taking its picture without asking permission?
On a different note, the post a few weeks back about a spalted hemlock tree brought to light another wood working artisan with a connection to Lake Wicwas. A member of one of our Wicwas families collects spalted wood (as well as other types of wood) and turns them into beautiful works of art. He sent a few pictures of his creations, including this bowl made from spalted maple.
If the tree I found near Lake Wicwas has any useful properties I will be sure to get a section of it to him as well. Thank you for sharing!
I wonder if there is any spalted wood down in the Lowcountry.
|A raised path carves through the Lowcountry forest|