We have several things to report on this week, including another amazing trip on the Black River! We have been spending a lot of time out there lately, not complaining of course. This trip we were monitoring our southern properties along the river. It was Angie Carl, myself, and Fred Annand, TNC North Carolina’s assistant director. We saw lots of really neat things.
Our start was at the NC Wildlife boat launch around HWY 53 in Bladen County and we traveled south for 20 miles to the confluence of the Cape Fear River. Here is a map. Once we reached the Cape Fear River it was very obvious, the water turned to chocolate milk…the Cape fear River is a brownwater river system. Brownwater systems originate in the piedmont of North Carolina and flow into the Coastal Plain carrying heavy sedimentation, hence looking like chocolate milk. The Black River is a blackwater river system. Blackwater systems have much clearer water than brownwater systems but the water is still black like tea due to tannens that have leached in from nutrient rich soils.
We saw so many turtles I couldn’t even count. As we would pass a log filled with the sun bathers they would one by one jump to the safety of the black water. We also saw 2 alligators! This was a first for all three of us! We have heard reports of alligators on the Black River but never have been witness to one until now! They were not very big, one about 6′ and the other about 5′. Unfortunately they were too fast for photography (or I was too slow) so you will just have to take our word on it. We saw pileated woodpeckers, wood ducks, great blue herons and king fishers; all were enjoying the serenity of the river.
I was unsure what the landscape would look like so far south on the river. The northern parts are filled with coves, interesting plants, big cypress trees, and plenty of wildlife. I expected to see more houses and development but I was pleasantly surprised to find as much undeveloped floodplain as in the northern sections, it was great! Check out this little video.
As you can see we were enjoying ourselves very much, it was peaceful and we had great weather. As for the monitoring, nothing adverse to report. All of our preserves were looking great!
In other news Dan Ryan and Angie Carl had an eventful Monday. Starting out the week in the mud is always fun! In an attempt to post some property in Boiling Spring Lakes Angie got our Polaris UTV stuck in the mud…which is not hard to do in this one particular area where mud abounds! They were out pretty far in the preserve so it was a feat trying to get un-stuck. But a 2 mile walk and another 4-wheeler later they managed to get out.
On the plus side of the adventure they got to see the rush feathering blooming. Rush featherling (Pleea tenuifolia) is a flowering plant that blooms in the fall and is indicative of a very unique type of pine savanna. So not all was lost in the mud.
We would also like to give a shout out to International Paper Reigelwood! We must thank them for funding yet another educational project for us! We just received a grant through IP Giving to fund the creation of a Venus flytrap brochure. The brochure will feature information about the unique plant including ecology, fire, and conservation efforts. It will be available to the public in March 2012. We are so lucky to have IP as a partner here in the Southeast Coastal Plain; thanks again and looking forward to working with you in the future!!
As always, thanks for looking…