Sunday, March 18, 2012

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge: Late Winter Surprises (Part 4)

Continued from here
March 10th, 2012. On our recent trip to the Piedmont NWR a couple of weeks ago, we saw Dimpled Troutlilies just beginning to bloom. We figured that they’d be full bloom now so we drove back down to photograph them.

We took a slightly different route from our last trip. We took the route from G
A-83 south on Starr Road through the Oconee National Forest into the NWR. We drove through Tribble Fields to the bridge over Little Falling Creek and then north to Pond 2A. We returned the way we’d come and then took the first road on the right down to the Round Tree – Juliette Rd, drove east and then back into the NWR on the first road on the left. From there we drove north to the intersection with Sugar Hill Road, turned west and forded Stalking Head Creek. We then drove north and took the first road on the right to ford Stalking Head Creek again, east past a small pond and southeast to meet Sugar Hill Road again and then east to Ga-11.

Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). We almost ran down this pair of wild turkeys – Mum and Dad – following the kids who were already making their way down the slope from the road and up the hill on the other side of the gully. Interestingly, they seemed totally unfazed by our suddenly coming up on them. They simply sauntered off down the slope. Not the hustling to get off the road and into the woods that is their usually behavior. In spite of their leisurely pace, always, by the time we got the truck stopped, turned on the camera, got into position for a shot, I could only get a view of their backs. Ah, well…

One of the kids making its way up the hill on the other side of the gully

Further along the road, we reached one of the areas where…

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) nest. The red-brown spot at the bottom of the trunk is a metal plate that has been placed to protect a nest box entry. Woodpeckers have been working the holes above recently but we’ve yet to see the birds in person. It’s coming up on breeding season so, maybe, this year.

We turned west on Sugar Hill Rd and made our way down to Stalking Head Creek. On the way, we ran across another family of Wild Turkeys.

This isn’t a great shot but if you enlarge it – click on it – you might be able to see the tom displaying. These turkeys were also heading in the same general direction as the first family – towards the hunting-free zone near Allison Creek. I joked that they were going there to find sanctuary in the hunting-free zone around the woodpecker nesting area ahead of the turkey hunting season scheduled for a few weeks from now.

Last year, we saw Mayapple (Phodophyllum peltatum) plants at the edge of the road after we climbed out of Stalking Head Creek. Since there was a wide ledge on the north side of the road at the creek, it seemed worthwhile looking around here.

I looked down the slope from the road and spotted a small patch of Mayapple plants. All were single stalked – not going to bloom this year.

From above… There is a single, ‘circular’ leaf, indicating that the stalk is not forked.

At about the same time, W spotted a larger patch of plants on the other side of the road.

These were older plants and were setting blooms. (The leaves of this plant are a little the worse for wear; they may have suffered from dehydration)

There are two leaves – two halves of the ‘circular’ leaf - when the stalk is forked. The developing bloom is just visible.

The bud has developed from the fork.

A closer view of the bud in profile
. We'll be following these plants.

We found trilliums here too.

We didn’t go down onto the ledge above the creek but as we drove up the hill, we saw a larger patch of May Apples further along the ledge. This area will be worth walking when we have more time. In addition, we had seen a large patch of green – possibly covering an acre or so - east of the road up to Pond 2A. We had wondered if they were May Apples but thought it was too early for them. Looks like we’ll be coming back to follow these plants.
To be continued…
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources: 

- Southeastern Flora:
May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum)
- Name That Plant. Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia:
Podophyllum peltatum (May-apple, American Mandrake)


- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Podophyllum peltatum

- USDA Plants Database:
Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)

Related Posts
- Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge: Late Winter Surprises (Part 3)

- Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge: Late Winter Surprises (Part 2)

- Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge: Late Winter Surprises (Part 1)

- Piedmont NWR: The First Dimpled Troutlily (Erythronium umbilicatum) Of Spring

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index


Kay G. said...

Love your photos of wild turkeys.
Guess what! We saw Zebra swallowtails at Stone Mountain, we saw at least 10 today at different times and places. They were so fast, we couldn't get a photo...but we are sure that is what they were! We also saw a pretty white one with orange tips down each side of its wings...we saw more but I don't want to bore you!

JSK said...

Glad you like the turkey photos. Just wish we'd been more alert.
Nice to know there are 'Zebras' in the area.
The white butterfly is an Falcate Orangetip. They're all over the place at the moment. The males have the orange tips; the females don't.