Wednesday, April 28, 2010

4.28 The Okefenokee

A number of people have inquired - why the Okefenokee? Well, because. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and aside from the distance and time to get there and back, it was a good idea.

We did enjoy alligator hunting, and the Okefenokee is unlike any of the other swamps I've been to (actually, each of the swamps I've been to has been different from all the others). There are three entrances to the swamp - we stayed in a cabin in the Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side. We drove around to the north entrance one day, and K&S went with the g'parents to the east side on the last day of our stay. I've no pictures of the east side which is all 'prairie'*, but will try to get some from K.

The west and north sides have a lot of cypress (bald and pond cypress), loblolly bay and tupelo trees
and we saw a number of different kinds of birds - a pileated woodpecker, several snowy egrets, a great egret, several raptors of various sizes but no identification, swamp turkeys (not related to the wild turkey), and turkey vultures.

Some of the best results of the alligator hunting are:


If I remember correctly, this was a pond turtle

These two were having a stare down
but the ranger's opinion was that the turtle was a bit too large, or the alligator a bit too small for anything to really come of it. The alligators replace their teeth rather as sharks do, but the size of this turtle's shell would probably mean several broken teeth that might be uncomfortable for a while.

The north entrance has another state park, which we did not visit, and a nature/amusement park which we did. Basic entrance fee included a wander around the animal exhibits, a herpetology lecture complete with snake handling and a chance to pet a baby alligator, and a train ride with views of past times in the swamp. Their alligator pen contained a large pond complete with bridge, which one of the six in the pen apparently considered prime napping material.

It was rather interesting - the two largest alligators in the pen had staked out a small mound, which obviously got the most sun with the least moving around necessary. This was the third largest alligator here on the bridge. The fourth, fifth and sixth (sizewise) were relegated to spots that obviously had enough sun to spread out in, but equally obviously would require the alligator to shift position every hour or so to remain completely in the sun. While we were watching, one of them, whose tail was now in the shade, skootched forward by rotating its limbs without ever opening its eyes. One foreleg got hung up on a bit of fern and it just stopped with that foreleg braced on the fern and hanging in mid air. I should be able to nap that soundly!


Cookie said...

So pretty!

I'm so glad someone asked because I was curious too.


gayle said...

I lived in Florida for a year, but never saw the Okefenokee. Gotta admit I like the turtles a whole more than the alligators...

beadlizard said...

Neat photos!