Sorry we have been out of touch lately, but we have a lot to report! The month of February was rather eventful with a trip to the Wade Tract and Wolf Creek Preserve being the highlights. In mid-February, we were fortunate enough to take a tour of the Wade Tract with the Apalachee Audubon Society. The Wade Tract is located in south Georgia and is well known as one of the best-managed tracts of old-growth longleaf forest left in the southeast. The Wade Tract itself is 200 acres of old-growth longleaf pine forest and is surrounded by 3,200 acres of private hunting lands owned by the Wade family. The Wade Tract is managed by Tall Timbers Research Station in north Florida, and is home to a variety of longleaf pine specialists including Bachman's sparrow, brown-headed nuthatch, gopher tortoise, and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The preserve is not open to the public except for scheduled group tours, so it truly was a privilege to see this glimpse of what once covered the entire southeastern US.
Wolf Creek Trout Lilies
The second highlight of our February was a trip to the Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve in south Georgia. We had heard about this site last year but missed the excitement, so this year we made it a point to follow the progress of the trout lilies, as their bloom time is very short-lived. The Wolf Creek trout lily population was only discovered a few years ago, and the land was purchased and turned into a preserve in 2010 (to read the full story visit their website!). The species found on the preserve (dimpled trout lily), is not necessarily a rare species, but they have never been found in such large numbers before Wolf Creek. Spotted trilliums are also very abundant on the slopes of the preserve, adding their deep red to the sea of yellow.
At the end of February, I (Aubrey) moved to North Carolina for the summer months. I am working for Virginia Tech as an avian technician in the Onslow Bight landscape. The project I am working for is looking at the effects of red-cockaded woodpecker management on other bird species. This means I will be conducting point-count surveys and nest searches, with some RCW work thrown in from time to time. I was able to learn how to climb a tree using a Swedish ladder on my first day, and I am learning to bird by ear, so I would say I am enjoying myself so far. I even found my first spotted turtle and Venus flytraps! It should be an enjoyable summer with plenty of cool subjects to photograph, so be on the lookout for new photos as the year progresses.