Thursday, May 15, 2008

ROADTRIP: Green Swamp Preserve (Wilmington, NC)

The Nature Conservancy's nearly 16,000 acre Green Swamp Preserve represents one of the best examples of the region's longleaf pine savanna. The understory is filled with carnivorous plants, including pitcher plants, Venus flytraps, and sundews. The preserve is also home to a number of orchid species. Mostly dominated by pocosin -- thick, shrubby boglands, the Green Swamp Preserve is excellent place to spend the day botanizing. It also has some pleasant surprises for birds, including Henslow's and Bachman's sparrows.

If you choose to visit the Green Swamp this time of year, the pocosins will be largely dried up, but you will get to see pitcher plants in full bloom!

Sarracenia flava

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Howell Woods, Four Oaks, NC

On Sunday, I was able to explore Howell Woods, a property donated to the Johnston County Community College in 1993 by Rudolph Howell. The preserve boasts a number short trails that traverse floodplain forests, old fields, ponds, and savannahs.

Birding here is excellent. During a short hike we were able to identify 26 bird species including red throated hummingbirds, hooded warblers, common yellow throats, chipping and fox sparrows, Acadian flycatchers and eastern kingbirds.

For herp enthusiasts, we also discovered a number of amphibians (Fowler's toads, cricket frogs, and Cope's gray treefrogs), lizards (racerunners), and snakes (black racers).

Mason Farm, Chapel Hill, NC

This past weekend, I tried to enjoy what may be the last peak weekend of the spring bird migration through North Carolina. On Saturday morning, I visited the 367-acre Mason Farm Biological Farm in Chapel Hill, NC with the Duke Natural History Society.

The Reserve contains a number of great birding habitats, including hardwood bottomlands and old fields. It also houses more species of animals than any other comparably sized site in the Piedmont -- including 216 bird species.

Walking the two mile Reserve loop, we identified over 33 bird species with the help of expert birder Will Cook (please visit his excellent website: Species included tanagers, vireos, redstarts, black-and-white warblers, yellow breasted chats, and common yellowthroats.

If you're interested in visiting Mason Farm Biological Reserve, stop by the Totten Center of the North Carolina Botanic Garden up the road and pick up a pass.