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Snapshots of nature

Posted: September 16, 2011 4:10 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Nature-seekers and history buffs took a closer look at the wild life that surrounds them during a recent two-hour walk through Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site and its nature loop which passes by Pine Tree Creek. Naturalist Josh Arrants, who led the walk, shared his field notes from the excursion, which was organized by the Kershaw Conservation District.

“We looked at the trees that are prominent at the Revolutionary Park; trees that were utilized by both the Native Americans who settled this area, as well as the colonial settlers. Longleaf Pine and Live Oak trees were the two that symbolized the colony of Carolina and had an extremely diverse number of uses. From lumber and pitch for tar, to utilizing them for the animals that sought food and shelter in them, these two tree types (especially Longleaf Pine) were the trees that built Camden. Pecan, Winged Sumac, Catalpa and a variety of other oaks (Willow Oak and Water Oak, most often) dotted the trail. We also saw these trees in various places, from the open field to the ecotones. We discussed the natural succession of habitats transitioning from fields to woodlands.

“We saw a number of birds that exhibited different hunting styles. The vultures, turkey and black, hunted by catching and riding thermals and following trace scent trails to find decaying flesh. Mississippi Kites were flying over, using acrobatic flights to capture insects and small birds on the wing. They also snatch prey, such as small reptiles, from tree tops and limbs.

“We were able to take a close look at the anatomy of dragonflies and see what characteristics place them in the Odonata order of insects. Odonata means ‘jaw toothed’ and, while they don't have teeth, they have powerful chewing mouth parts. Those powerful mouth parts, when combined with the extremely fast flight that they can achieve with the two pair of powerful wings they have, make them efficient hunters and eaters.

“We walked down to Pine Tree Creek and heard a number of species of birds found along creeks and rivers. Acadian Flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Blue-grey Gnatcatchers were joined by more common species such as Carolina Wrens, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Red-eyed Vireos along the trail. We listened to the Red-eyed Vireo singing on and on, with its ‘Here I am, where are you? Look at me, higher still’ ringing out repetitively. With it singing so long without end, it truly earns the name, ‘Preacher Bird.’”

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