Monday, November 22, 2010

Field Trip: Oconee-Greene County. Part 2, Sand Pit – Ward Rd

We drove further down GA-15; about 12 miles south of Watkinsville. We turned right and drove up and back along Sand Pit – Ward Rd (B) in northern Greene County; this road connects GA-15 with S. M. Copeland Rd. This road has been a favorite for a long time. When we were volunteering on the Georgia Herp Survey some years ago, we would drive along this road to listen for, and record, frog calls. I recall sitting out one night in quite cold temperatures listening to the melodic calls of American Toads (Bufo americanus) in the distance to the south of the road.

The Sand Pit Rd turn-off is about 12 miles south of Watkinsville to the right just before you cross the bridge over the Oconee River. These sheds and silo to the east of the highway also serve as a landmark for the turn.

The gravel road runs almost level for some way and then very gradually climbs beside cultivated fields confined between woods on either side. At some point the road name changes to Ward Rd. This view looks back towards GA-15.

Where the pines have been cleared, the woods are composed of deciduous trees.

The road then enters an area of rocky ground and deciduous woods that come right up to the road. In late October, Narrow-leaf Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) were blooming along this section of the road. Pearl Crescents (Phyciodes tharos) and Common/White Checkered Skippers (Pyrgus communis/Pyrgus albescens) butterflies were feeding on them.

At S. M. Copeland Rd where we turned around and retraced out route to GA-15, there were some Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) bushes; these were about 10 feet tall.

Eastern Baccharis (Baccharis halimifolia), photographed in mid November, is not common in this area but there is a specimen bush on the south side of the road not far from GA-15.

This road may be interesting to check out next year.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Related post:

- Field Trip: Oconee-Greene County. Part 1, Elders Mill Covered Bridge

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