J Nature Walks – “Hog Heaven!”
As I was walking through Bulow Woods this morning, the phrase, “I’m in hog heaven!” kept going through my mind. Not sure where that came from, but oddly enough I did see some feral pigs today. I heard a commotion in the woods off to my right and then shortly after, four black wild hogs went streaking across the trail ahead of me! And nearly the same time, I spotted a little armadillo high-tailing it into the woods in the opposite direction. Crowded woods! Didn’t get a photo of the hogs; they were moving too fast, but there were at least two adults and two or three little ones. Yes, the woods around here are hog heaven, with plenty of cover, acres of acorns and pignuts and plenty of roots and the like.
Bulow Woods got quite battered during Hurricane Matthew. Great oaks and smaller trees lie in pieces next to the trail. Even with all of the resulting destruction, new signs of life are emerging. I saw some real wildflowers and a lot of coontie. The latter is a Florida native that was once harvested nearly to extinction for its roots which are better known as arrowroot. The plants are making a slow comeback. If you live in Florida, they are also a foolproof, tough plant that keeps a manageable three feet x four feet. I was excited to see the “flower” of the plant (it’s a cyclad, so no real flower) which looks more like a pine cone growing out of the center of the plant.
The 5.2 mile loop that I did is excellent exercise, being lumpy and rooty enough to demand your undivided attention, while giving you a tour of ancient, semi-wild Florida, with its towering oak hardwood hammock, Sabal palms, at least three varieties of pines, two varieties of native holly and plenty of lyonia and saw palmetto. The lyonia was showing off its relationship to the huckleberry with tiny white bell-like flowers beginning to unfold.
For the bird watcher in you, there are a variety of birds. I heard some early songbirds, including a trio of mockingbirds settling on their territories. One bird would trill its song, only to have it echoed back by a distant male and then repeated in another direction by another male. Then there was the hoarse croak of a heron flying over the marshland. And the steady knocking of busy woodpeckers hammering away at tough oak bark. And the tiny flitting movements of little kinglets and others that I couldn’t identify. I’m no expert on birds, but know a few and picked up a little book the other day to assist in some identification. The Bulow Woods Trail is on the list of National Birding Trails. I also saw some young fish in the clear running Cisco Ditch, an old canal that has become more like a natural stream.
Although this hike is located within minutes from busy Palm Coast and Flagler Beach, I only saw three humans and two dogs, besides all the wild denizens. In all, it was an enjoyable hike on an overcast Sunday morning, with temperatures in the comfortable mid-60’s * F.
Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend. Oh, yeah… who is playing today in the Super Bowl? Don’t know; don’t care.
All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com