Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Visiting a Carolina Bay

I received this nice e-mail from Mike Busam of Cincinatti, Ohio in which he describes his recent trip to the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve near Conway, South Carolina . We had a chance to correspond about the preserve after he read this post that I wrote a couple of weeks ago. The preserve is just one of the many relatively "unknown" natural areas in South Carolina that should be a "must see" for anyone interested in unique natural history.

"Clay, greetings... Thanks again for the advice and information for
visiting Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. I went out on Monday, June 9. Unfortunately, I only had a couple hours, but it was a *great* couple of hours, so I can't complain. I followed your advice and checked out the sites along the road. I didn't go too far off the road because I'm unfamiliar with the area and didn't want to be the "dope from Ohio who gets lost in the pocosins," etc.

I particularly enjoyed the bird life--plenty of Brown-headed
Nuthatches, lots of Pine Warblers, a few Blue Grosbeaks, and then a
Prothonotary and Northern Parula along a narrow creek/wetland that the road cuts through. What a neat array of habitats and birds and plants in one location! Carolinians probably yawn when they see or hear about bears, but we don't have many in SW Ohio, so even the Black Bear tracks in the parking lot near the gazebo at the entrance were interesting to me.

I saw a number of Palamedes Swallowtails, which I've never seen
before, and I took some photos of what might be a Zarucco Duskywing, one of which I attached. If I saw this bug in Ohio, I'd probably call it a Wild Indigo, but the habitat and location make me wonder if it's a Zarucco? I only had a little pocket digital, so I couldn't very close to the skipper.

I had one more question for you regarding the pine trees at Lewis
Ocean Bay. Are those Longleaf Pines? It seems like they're managing
for that kind of system out there--I saw a few areas that have been
burned and logged, or so it seemed, and I saw a couple young trees
that sure looked like what I've read Longleaf Pines should look like,
but I wasn't sure if I wasn't just confusing Loblolly and Slash Pines,
etc, for Longleaf. I understand that the Longleaf was largely
destroyed in the southeast and replaced years ago by Loblolly and
Slash, among other pines. In any case, the sound of the light breeze
going through those trees was neat to hear. The pine trees really
amplify even a modest breeze.

I'm certainly sold on that area, though. The next time we're in South Carolina, I'll certainly visit it again. It's a gem. I can't help but notice all the development around it, which is too bad. In that sense, it's just like all my favorite sites here in southwestern Ohio—lots of development knocking at the door. Hopefully, that 9300 acres will remain safe.

Thanks again for the information. It was very helpful. I studied the
plants you mentioned and it made my brief visit there all the more
interesting, since I had some idea of what to look for."

Take care,
---Mike Busam
Cincinnati, Ohio

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