Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Swamp On Anderson Mill Creek

April 24th, 2015. We take a road trip to Wilkes County at least four times each year. W volunteers to monitor frog species diversity and numbers on a prescribed route in the county. We take the opportunity to visit different places in the county before we ‘run the frog route’ after dark. Usually, these include…

two swamps on Enoch John Road, Fishing Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the Broad River WMA; we return to the beginning of the route via Pistol Creek.

We begin the route on Enoch John Road from the Danburg Road (GA-44). This is a dirt road that may be slippery in some spots when it's wet. There are two swamps on this road. The first is on Anderson Mill Creek (the west swamp) and the second is on an unnamed tributary of Fishing Creek (the east swamp).

The approach, from the west, to the Anderson Mill Creek swamp. It looks harmless enough – just a couple of sections of the road that are under flowing water – but they are potholes and should be approached with caution in a vehicle with sufficient ground clearance to avoid taking on water. The holes have firm, gravel bottoms but we engage 4-wheel drive to cross them. (This swamp may be reached from taking Enoch John Road west from Sandtown Road and parking at the east end of the approach to the swamp and walking along the road to the bridge. There is one section of road to the east of the bridge that is usually covered by relatively shallow water; boots are recommended for this walk).

There is very little traffic on this road and we usually ‘park’ on the bridge while taking photographs. This location can be a good spot to stalk and photograph butterflies and dragonflies.

Looking north along the channel of Anderson Mill Creek.

Looking south.

The swamp is contained on the east by the road - that is a causeway - with a short bridge that allows the creek to flow south. Beaver have constructed a long, but relatively low dam parallel to the road. It’s easiest to see portions of this dam in the winter when there is limited vegetation to block the view. The water on the road has resulted from overflow over the beaver dam.

The newest addition to the dam system is on the south side of the west end of the bridge.

One of the many Green Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica) plants growing along the edge of the swamp. There are also several sedges along the roadside.

A Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus)

A Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

A male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicollis)

Looking east on the north side of the road.

A Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) was basking in the sun. It’s rare to see turtles here. Previously, the only turtle we’d seen here was a Snapping Turtle swimming in the creek.

A Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) butterfly was constantly on the move but stopped long enough to allow photographs of the under and upper side of its wings.

The place, east of the bridge, where the water crosses the road marks where to start looking for the…

beaver lodge a little way off the road behind bushes growing in the swamp. It can be difficult to spot it in the summer. It's much easier in the winter when the vegetation has died back. Even then, we usually climb into the bed of our pickup to get a better view.

We drove east from the Anderson Mill Creek swamp towards the east swamp. On the way, we found…

several Common Blue-eye Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) plants in bloom.
We saw a number of skipper butterflies on this trip and managed to photograph a couple: a…

Juvenal's Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis), and a

Southern Cloudywing (Thorybes bathyllus).

And then onto the east swamp on the unnamed tributary of Fishing Creek.
(To be continued…)

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