Spring Happenings

April 10, 2015.  I’m in the swamp early this morning, an hour before daybreak. At 6:30 AM the “dawn chorus” starts, led off by cardinals, Carolina wrens, and tufted titmice, joined in by two recent arrivals from more southerly climes, the northern parula and yellow-throated warbler. To add to this cosmopolitan mix is a common […]

As Good As It Gets

April 3, 2015.  A few lightning bugs are blinking in the dark when I arrive at the South Cedar Creek Landing this morning at 5:45 AM. Heading downstream in my kayak, I soon have small bats, perhaps Eastern pipistrelles (now called tri-colored bats), flying close to my head, attracted to the insects attracted to my […]

Spring is Here!

March 28, 2015.  Well, as noted for the entry at the start of this month, spring wasted no time arriving in the swamp, taking a quick four weeks to do so. Greens are the dominant color scheme now, not somber earth tones. Beech trees have finished unfurling their leaves and are covered with drooping, ripe […]

Congaree Carnivores

March 20, 2015, continued. On my way to the river I stop to admire the state-champion cherrybark oak. Coming in at 26.5 feet in circumference and 141 feet tall, it is a magnificent specimen, with a crown spread of 140 feet, as much as the tree’s height! And it also has enough “points” (based on […]

The Green Tide

March 20, 2015.  During my nine-day absence, a green tide has rolled over the swamp. It starts first along the riverbank, where the silver maples are the first hardwood species to leaf out, sometimes in February (but not this year), and along with the willows, sugarberries, box elders, river oats, and other early-leafing riparian vegetation, […]

Looking for Hawk Nests

March 11, 2015.  I am in the woods near the South Cedar Creek Landing by 6:20 AM. It’s still quite dark and quiet. Official sunrise, daylight savings time, is an hour and twenty minutes away at 7:40. By 6:45 the eastern sky is lighting up a tad, and a leopard frog chorus begins from a […]

Early Spring Camping

March 7, 2015.  I decide to take advantage of the splendid weather forecast for this weekend and kayak-camp Saturday night. I get off to a late start packing Saturday morning and don’t get my boat in the water until nearly 1:00 PM. The Ancient Aztec warrior says that it takes as much gear and effort […]

Big Changes are Coming

March 3, 2015.  March is the month of big change for the swamp. It starts out in winter and ends in spring. The Congaree forest of early March is still a bare one, but only thirty days later becomes a light-green, spring forest. The change-over seems gradual, but in actuality it happens quickly, almost overnight. […]

A Frigid February

February 27, 2015.  I spend much of February taking care of Brother Robert’s farm while he is on a medical mission to the Sudan. It only reinforces how complicated it makes your life when you have lots of hungry mouths to feed. This month has been one of the coldest Februaries I can remember, even […]

Essay: Tree Rats, Jaybirds, and Oak Forests

Hands down the most visible animal with fur at Congaree is the ordinary gray squirrel or the rather unglamorous “tree rat” as we called them growing up.  Despite their unrat-like appearance squirrels are basically an arboreal rat and a member in good standing of the Order Rodentia. Sciurus carolinensis, the “shade-tail of Carolina,” should be […]