River Trail

May 24, 2014.  It has been a while since I’ve been on the River Trail. This, along with the Bates Ferry Trail at the east end of the park, are the only park trails that actually take you to the Congaree River. It’s a pretty good hoof, ten miles if you do the entire loop. […]

Night Walk

May 21, 2014.  It’s 8:20 PM at the high boardwalk this evening, three minutes before official sunset.  The sky through the dense canopy is pale yellow but soon turns a light rose hue in the receding sunlight. A few “banjo frogs” – actually green frogs, Rana clamitans – are uttering their distinctive, one-syllable call in […]

Essay: Lianas

One of the most prominent features of the Congaree that gives it such a distinct and unique character is the presence of numerous, large vines. Forest scientists call them lianas, a Spanish term that means, well, “vine.”  North American vines reach their greatest abundance in the humid, sunny South with its moderate temperatures and long […]

Nighttime on the Boardwalk

May 13, 2014.  I’m here this evening for a night walk on the boardwalk under a full moon. It isn’t until almost two hours after the 7:20 PM moonrise that the shining white orb finally clears the trees, and comes into full view above Weston Lake. The last bit of twilight lingers over the lake […]

Dawn Chorus

May 4, 2014.  Today being the first Saturday of May, Friends of Congaree Swamp is hosting its Annual Dawn Chorus Bird Walk at the park. The dawn chorus refers to that time of day, and year, when bird-singing activity reaches its peak. In South Carolina, this generally corresponds to a week on either side of […]

Dorovan Muck

May 3, 2014.  I arrive at the visitor’s center parking lot early this cool morning to an overcast sky and rain threatening. From the low boardwalk I check the red-shouldered hawk nest in the muck swamp but see no activity. The muck swamp is what most visitors think a swamp should look like – tall […]

Wood Thrush Symphony

April 26, 2014, conclusion. I continue my paddle down Cedar Creek and about 7:45 AM, as I approach “Garrick Hill,” a high bluff on the north side of the creek, I hear a sound that makes me stop in mid-stream. It’s the most beautiful song in the bird kingdom in my humble opinion, the fluting […]

Hairy Head

April 26, 2014.  The swamp has been flooded since April 19th, with Cedar Creek rising to 9.5 feet. I don’t recall ever seeing so much water in the swamp this late in spring, except for the great spring flood of 2003.  I’m on a pre-dawn float trip down Cedar Creek, which has recovered to normal […]

Wood Hen

April 18, 2014, continued. Earlier in the morning I enjoyed watching from the low boardwalk a pair of pileated woodpeckers working over very dead logs and woody debris on the ground. Sometimes they would leave the logs and hop over to a nearby tree trunk and search for food within the cracks and crevices of […]

My First Visit to Congaree

April 18, 2014.  Today is an anniversary of sorts. It was on another Easter weekend forty-seven years ago that Harry Hampton took me on my first trip to the Congaree, when I was nineteen. He was sixty-nine at the time and I thought of him, well, as an old man. And now it’s come almost […]