Sunday, January 11, 2015

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

As we drove over to this park on Saturday I commented to John that we did not need a guided tour of this swamp because we already had done a couple of them, and there would be nothing new.  It turned out that I was very wrong, and this was one of our better guided tours.  Upon immediately starting out with our guide, Russ, we were informed that the preserve is a slough, not a swamp.  In a slough water moves slowly through an area, creating wetlands as well as hammocks.  During the rainy season (June-Nov.) the depth of the water may be from 2-3 feet, and the slough is then comparable to a wide but shallow stream.  The slough acts as an important drainage way as it collect rainwater run-off from many square miles of watershed.  A boardwalk has been built Cypress Slough, which connects the wetlands as well as several ponds.  The first pond we stopped at was Otter Pond, and from an overlook we could see many birds.  Ibis and great egrets were perched in the trees surrounding the pond,  a red-shouldered hawk was perched on a dead tree trunk over the water, and in several different locations we saw black-crowned night herons.
As we were enjoying the quiet beauty of the pond, suddenly the air was filled with angry squawks.  The hawk had flown off his perch and seemed to be harassing several belted kingfishers- they all soon exited the pond area.  We were also fortunate that one man in our group espied a green heron in the dense vegetation of the slough.  In case you are wondering what is green about him, he has greenish-black crown feathers, and the blue-gray of the upper parts is mixed with green.  He is usually a solitary creature.
Our guide was bemoaning the fact that, as it was a chilly morning, we would not see alligators.  However, we did see a young one at Pop Ash Pond (yes, that is the name of a tree found here).  The alligator was enjoying sunning himself on a log, along with his turtle buddies.
I will write more on this slough in my next posting, especially regarding the flora.  I will leave you with one last picture, that of a great blue heron.  He maintained that regal position for quite some time.

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