Friday, August 19, 2005

Back Into The Muck

On Thursday I did some more exploring in the Big Thicket. My map of the preserve (which is composed of several units, most of which are not contiguous with other units) showed some roads of doubtful drivability leading into the Jack Gore Baygall & Neches Bottom Units, which are on the Neches River north of Evadale. I'd been told that these roads were only passable under dry summer conditions, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to check them out.

One of the roads led to a "county park" on the river. It was more of a parking area than a park. No amenities, just a big sandy bend in the river. And the place sure could have used some garbage cans - it was sad to see all the litter. There is one of those "do-not-do-this and do-not-do-that" type signs as you enter, but dumping garbage wasn't one of the "don'ts" listed. Omission equals permission? Anyway, there was some forest along the river, but not the extensive old-growth forest I was hoping for. I did see a Mississippi Kite flying over the park as I arrived.

Another river access road passes through the adjoining Jack Gore Baygall Unit of the preserve. I found this road to be in reasonably good condition until I came to a big muddy wallow. I decided not to risk getting stuck and continued on foot. I didn't get as far as the river, which I figure was within a mile at that point. The road crosses a series of baygalls (low poorly drained gullies, often with standing water), and I found some interesting habitat down there, mostly mature deciduous forest interspersed with cypress swamp. Plenty of big trees. I heard some loud raps that momentarily had me excited...and who knows, maybe it was an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Incidentally, I heard Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers along the road, and there seemed to be quite a bit of woodpecker activity in general. I also heard a Barred Owl (with a little encouragement they'll start hooting anytime, even in the middle of a hot afternoon). Nice place. I'll have to go back when I have more time to look around.

In the evening Michelle and I went to a meeting of the Golden Triangle Audubon Society. The night's subject? The Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Texas. More about that later.


At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Gina said...

Hi John,

I have to come to your blog site to see how you are doing! Hope all is well with you and Michelle.


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