Okefenokee NWR

Sunday February 17th 2019

The weather forecasters didn’t got it wrong again, but it was another OK day. The morning fog and clouds hung in to around 3:30 in the afternoon. It was a humid day in the mid seventies.

This statue is the greeting in front of the visitors center.

I’ve wanted to visit the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge all week. Today was my last opportunity, so I set out for the swamp after breakfast. Half way there I had a minor panic when I realized I left my phone at home. It’s amazing how uncomfortable I feel when I don’t have the device with me. Never mind that I survive for decades without a cell phone. I wasn’t going to back track twenty miles, so I continued on without it. The only real down side was I had no idea what time it was when I was out of the car.

Mizell Prairie on a cloudy day.
Canal into the swamp.

For something that I’ve wanted to do for a while, I was remarkably unprepared. I only had a vague idea what was available to see. Consequently the boat trips were already booked. Just walking the trails and driving along the roads doesn’t provide a good overview of the swamp. Therefore, there will be a next time. To really see the refuge you need to be staying nearer and visit over several days.

Four Sandhill Cranes passing very noisily above the tree branches overhead.
Two more Sandhill Cranes over the prairie.

I did see some of the birds I’ve been missing over the couple of weeks. There were a lot of Sandhill Cranes and a Great Egret or two. The cranes were making a lot of noise as they flew around the prairie section of the park. Unfortunately none of them were very close to the observation areas.

Turtle out of the water for a little rest.
Another view of the canal into the swamp on a cloudy day.

Along the canal section of the refuge I spotted a couple of turtles on the far side right away. I thought that was going to be my only amphibian sighting until I checked an area behind the visitors center. On the far bank there was a medium size alligator on the bank and a larger one a little ways away. Watching those gators I almost missed seeing a smaller one right below my location on the near bank. So my observation count was three gators, one turtle, six Sandhill Cranes and an Egret or two.

Medium sized gator on the far bank.
Little gator in the water on along the near side of the canal.
Big gator on the far bank of the canal.

Tomorrow is a travel day back into Florida. I will be traveling a little over 150 miles to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park south of Gainesville.

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