This is what the Phinizy Swamp looks like now, after the historic ice storm we had last week. The fallen trees are dramatic, but it's clear that the ecosystem will take care of the mess on its own. In the second photo, a blossoms from a flowering tree droop over swirling patterns of duckweed in Butler Creek. In the third photo, you can see that beavers have completely done in a pine tree - they've felled it and gnawed all of the bark off.
Victor and I went out to the Phinizy Swamp yesterday. We headed for the tupelo-cypress swamp area that I've photographed before. We saw our first alligator as we descended from the path to the swamp area. This gator was about 4 feet long, and its back seemed to have moss growing on it. It let me approach quite close and look at it for a long moment. Then when Victor joined me, the gator suddenly came to life - it did a 180 and faced us, hissing with wide-open jaws. We backed off quickly then!
Later, we saw 6 more alligators. The smallest was a little smaller than the first one, and the largest was very large. All the rest of them were in the containment pond right before the constructed wetlands water gets released to the river.
The tupelo-cypress swamp area is my favorite out at Phinizy. It's an overwhelming experience, visually. On this day, the air was grayish and slightly thick. Nothing seemed fully in focus because of the gray haze.
I was out at the Phinizy Swamp today, and saw the scene above right off the little bridge that leads into the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy. It looks like the head of a corpse has surfaced in the brown swamp water. Actually, it's a dummy that got lost when a TV series called Swamp Murders was being filmed by Investigation Discovery last March. They lost one of the dummy corpses in the muck, and it only resurfaced within the past week. The fake body may be there for awhile - evidently it's a whole body that's tied to a chair that's attached to cement blocks - and it's kind of hard to fish out right now.
And here's a close-up of the head. I think it looks much better than a real head would, after several months in the water.
Another photo off the bridge, taken today. It's a beautiful swamp, isn't it?
Silver duckweed: bald cypress and tupelo trees in water covered with duckweed. The duckweed is a tiny plant that completely covers the surface of the water. The slant of the sun makes the plant cover look silver. Phinizy Swamp is in Augusta, GA - it's part of the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy.
Green duckweed: the same scene as the photo above, only shot from a different angle. The natural color of duckweed is bright green. The cypress knees stick up like nubs from the water. Part of the function of the knees is to get oxygen to the roots of the tree.
Duckweed up close. These are tiny floating green plants. There are a lot of tiny creatures in and around the duckweed, in the water: shrimplike animals, fish, insects. Maybe that's what the ducks like.
Priscilla Hollingsworth, artist.