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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.