stories from the road

Green Swamp Preserve

In North Carolina, Wildlife Preserves on September 3, 2012 at 6:35 pm

On our way to Ocean Isle beach in North Carolina, we stopped at the Green Swamp Preserve in Brunswick County, a 17,424-acre area managed by the Nature Conservancy. We hiked along a meandering, sandy path through stands of long-leaf pines — the kinds favored by the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (which, unfortunately, we did not spot — although we did see several sparrows. None of them held still long enough, though, for me to see if they might have been Henslow’s or Bachman’s sparrows — two rare types that have been identified in this area).

We were eager to get to the beach, and we didn’t stay long enough — it was hot! — or hike far enough — OK, it was really hot!! — to get to the areas where we might be able to see some of the swamp’s alligators, but given how hot and dry the summer had been, we weren’t really seeing any swamp-like conditions on our little excursion, anyway. So I think are chances of seeing alligators were pretty slim.

The closest thing we saw to a frightening alligator was a tiny, carnivorous pitcher plant, one of the swamp’s 14 insect-eating plant species — which include the Venus flytrap and the sundew. We also saw an assortment of far less aggressive plant species — flowers, mushrooms — and a tiny bright-green lizard that held as still as the plant stalk he clung to, wondering, I guess, if the two-legged species that were staring at him were a lizard-eating sort of beings. We weren’t, of course, and once we’d photographed the little creature, we hustled back along the pine-strewn path. We could practically smell the ocean, and we were eager to jump in the waves and begin our week-long stay on the beach!

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