I went on a short hike with Dad Friday evening after work (3ish miles.) The plan was to walk to a spot we walked to a few weeks before and see if the wood ducks had managed to hatch and leave the box yet. (A couple months ago I found a screech owl [red morph] in the box and then 3 weeks ago found a sitting wood duck). We assumed they had, but wanted to check anyway. When we first dropped off the trail and down to the fields nearby we were instantly met with grunting, snorting, and splashing. Though we were unable to see them, we were very much able to hear a momma hog and her piglets splashing in the water/mud just through the large thicket where we were standing. I would have love to have gotten a picture, but the briars and trees were so thick it would have been damn near impossible… unfortunately.
We slipped passed them through an old trail that would eventually bring us to a little pond that is backed up off the Ocoee. Not a very big area but absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. (See pic 1). It took us about 15 minutes to make our way through the briars and carry logs to lay across the water/mud in order to get across to where the wood duck box was. (Did not have to do that last time… but thanks to all the rain we have had lately, we had no choice this time. 😐) When I got to it, I managed to attach my phone to my selfie stick (yes… I have a selfie stick, it comes in handy!) and make a short video of the contents inside the box. (I am too short to be able to reach the box otherwise). The eggs had hatched (all but one) and the ducks were gone. I can’t even explain how much I’d LOVED to have seen them leave the nesting box. My only hope is they made it safely to the water and away from any predators. (I’m attaching a picture of momma duck and her eggs that I managed to take the last time we ventured that way. I can’t get over how adorable she is!😊)
After checking out the nesting box, we decided to walk back through the fields but venture a bit further to see if we could see any deer, the hogs we had heard, or the turkey we saw last time we were down there. We did manage to see the turkey again, but this time she wouldn’t really offer to fly or run away. Dad said she either had a nest nearby OR babies. He taught me how to chirp like a baby turkey and would you believe the momma walked right out of the woods and within 20 feet of us! When she saw it was us she turned and went back the direction of the bushes she had just came out of. My first time attempting to call a turkey. (And unlike my brother, I didn’t shoot it!) I got a couple pictures of her also. I posted one of them below. I’d love to go back soon and try to sneak a picture of her AND her babies.
On the way back to the car, Dad showed me a flower he said they always referred to as a “chigger flower” when they were kids because he said they got chiggers every time they touched them. I told him it looked like a sweet pea of some kind and when I pulled out my little guide it said it was called Goat’s Rue. Pretty nifty little flower. I shared a picture below as well. Dad and I have been on a kick lately with IDing plants and trees. Dad can name just about every damn tree in the forest, Me, not so much. I’ve almost got down the oak trees… Chestnut Oak is easiest for me. Post Oak, Red/Scarlet Oak, and White Oak are a little more difficult. There are like 8-10 different flipping oak trees here in the southeast but by golly I’ll be able to ID them eventually. The last couple weeks Dad and I have been attempting to learn some of the ferns that grow around here. It’s just that plants are so hard for me. I can almost immediately ID any snake, mammal, or insect you show me and tell you specific details about them, but if it has leaves, bark, or petals there is a 95% chance I won’t know what it is. Maybe eventually I’ll get those down…
The last picture is a shot I snapped as we were walking up the old logging road back to the car. I’m always a fan of sun pictures even if the right-of-way is right smack dab in the middle of where I’m standing.
Overall, it was an awesome little adventure. I’m always a fan of seeing (and hearing critters.) Perhaps we will sneak back down there again soon and try to get some shots of momma turkey and her babies or even Ms. Piggy and the piglets. If so, I’ll be sure to post an update.
✌ & 💚 y’all