Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Walk In The Woods

January 9th, 2015. Many years ago, W dug a pool as a breeding pool for Southeastern (Upland) Chorus frogs (Pseudacris feriarum). The frogs have used it every year since; we can hear them calling from the house. W has been expanding the area of the pool in the last couple of years; it’s now about two to three times its original size although it’s still a work I progress. I was curious as to how much water was in it since the recent rains. 

The path to the creek drops fairly steeply from behind the house to the floodplain above Shoal Creek which runs through the back of our place. 

The floodplain on this side of the creek is wide. 

The path to the pool runs parallel to the creek. 

A glimpse of the creek. The bank is vertical and about six to seven feet above the water. The creek originates just west of GA-11 and flows in a generally south-easterly direction to the Apalachee River.

The pool. The area on the near side looks a little bare at the moment because the tractor has been taking soil out of the pool recently. In April, digger bees will be active on the path leading to the pool and, the Summer and Fall, a variety of wildflowers will bloom. 

Water extruded from the ground in recent cold nights had formed ice crystals that were beginning to melt in the late morning sun. 

Looking back up the hill towards the house. 

Ice crystals had formed in a chainsaw cut on a fallen tree trunk along the trail. 

If the walk down was easy, it was a climb back up the hill. 

Rather than take the tractor path back up the hill, I tried to follow a foot path I had scouted last year. Of course, I hadn’t cleared the leaves from it in the Fall so I had to guess my way. 

The foot path traverses this relatively open area. 

Looking back down towards the ledge above the creek. Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is the scourge of the woods. We’ve cleared some areas but, obviously, this evergreen continues to dominate large areas. In the early days, most of these plants would bloom but very few do now because the trees shade them; the only privets that bloom now are those exposed to the sun at the edge of the woods. 

The woods continue to the top of the rise. These woods are ‘relatively’ young. The area was planted to cotton until after WWII; the planting extended down this hill to the edge of the drop down to the creek ledge. There is discernible evidence of countouring along the hill to minimize erosion. 

We don’t have exotic wildflowers in these woods but they provide homes for deer, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, possums, titmice, mockingbirds, owls and red-shouldered hawks and black rat and water snakes. Oh, and Southeastern Chorus frogs.

1 comment:

Ellen Honeycutt said...

A lovely walk and how fun to have a pond for the frogs! I'm sure the other critters use it too in their own way.