November Critters in the Okefenokee Swamp

November 22, 2013 at 5:38 am (Autumn, Birds - Georgia, Butterflies, Dragonflies and Bugs, fine art photography, Georgia, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Photography, Wildlife)

Male common yellowthroat and titi shrub along the Suwannee Canal

Male common yellowthroat and titi shrub along the Suwannee Canal

Fall in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge means an influx of migratory birds from up north, as well as greater visibility for the resident avians.  The frogs are mostly gone (hibernating?) and visible insect life has dramatically decreased, but alligators will be more prominent since they stop feeding in cool weather and bask in the sun to stay warm.

Alligator lurking

Alligator lurking

Along the Suwannee Canal there were catbirds galore, generally in pairs, mewing their displeasure at the intrusion of two kayakers.  I had a pair that nested in my yard every summer when I lived in Maine.  They loved the grape jelly I set out for them in little bowls at the feeder.

Catbird

Catbird

While the resident (and very vocal) wren is the Carolina wren, marsh wrens also scolded us from the banks.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Swamp sparrows sounded their own chip notes that made me think there were phoebes everywhere.  That trait helped me ID this LBB (Little Brown Bird).

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Blue-gray gnatcatchers were also busy gleaning little bugs from the branches.  They often talk to themselves, sweet little murmuring notes that seem to say they are content with themselves and life.

Blue-gray gnatcatcher

Blue-gray gnatcatcher

The red-shouldered hawk looking for breakfast along the Suwannee Canal seemed a little miffed that the fog had dampened its feathers.

Red-shouldered hawk

Red-shouldered hawk

This gang of turkey vultures looked like they were hatching a nefarious plot, but they were really wondering if the kayakers below posed enough of a threat to force them from their perch.  A short time later when the sun burned through the fog, they joined others in soaring the thermals above the Mizell Prairie.

Turkey vultures

Turkey vultures

A female migrant blue-winged teal landed in front of us, behavior entirely alien to the resident wood ducks which take whistling flight long before we ever see them on the water.

Female green-winged teal

Female blue-winged teal

Great blue herons are commonly seen.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Little blue heron adults and their white juveniles are much more commonly seen in fall and winter.

Little blue heron amid tickseed sunflowers

Little blue heron amid tickseed sunflowers

Endangered wood storks are seen less frequently.  Their feeding tactics are fascinating to watch; with opened bills in the water, they stir up the swamp bottom with their feet, hoping to scare a fish or crustacean through the open mandibles.  At the lightest touch, the beak snaps shut on the prey in the tiniest fraction of a second.

Wood Stork, Mizell Prairie

Wood Stork, Mizell Prairie

With the preponderance of spider webs made visible by the fog, you wonder just how any insect could survive the boobytraps.

Fishing Spider

Spider

A few butterflies were feeding when the sun warmed the air.  Monarchs are migrating to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

Monarch butterfly on tickseed sunflower

Monarch butterfly on tickseed sunflower

The ubiquitous blue dasher dragonflies were hunting, though not in nearly the profusion as they were in September.

Blue Dasher dragonfly, male

Blue Dasher dragonfly, male

A closeup of the gorgeous turquoise-emerald eyes of the dragonfly.

Blue dasher dragonfly closeup

Blue dasher dragonfly closeup

So long, summer!

Photos and text copyright Cindy McIntyre.

Feel free to reblog.

Website – Cindy McIntyre Images

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2 Comments

  1. ERMurray said,

    I stumbled across your blog by accident while researching for a short story I’m writing (based on the Okefenokee swampers). Your blog is absolutely beautiful. Incredible photos and great insights into the natural surroundings. Thank you so much for helping me get a real sense of the area. I do have one question – do you know what type of turtles hide their eggs in the alligator nests? I believe they have red throats. I’m having trouble locating the species name. Thanks again for such a beautiful blog.

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