The Okefenokee Swamp

The Okefenokee Swamp is located in southeast Georgia and northeast Florida. Most of the swamp is protected by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Area and the Okefenokee Wilderness which takes up part of Charlton, Ware and Clinch Counties in Georgia and Baker County in Florida. The word Okefenokee means trembling earth in the Native American Choctaw language.

In the Corvid-19 era, one could hardly find a more remote place in the lower 48 states to get away from people than the Okefenokee Swamp: 700 square miles of interconnected natural waterways, man made channels, islands, inundated forests; thousands of alligators, poisonous snakes, poison ivy, mosquitos, gnats, ticks, and other annoying, dangerous agents of mayhem.

My first paddle into the swamp I felt a little lonely, so I took my bike with me. It also served as bow ballast, and a ride back to my campsite, oh and should I be attacked by a herd of alligators, I could put bits of the folding bite into their yawning maws!

Female Eastern Pondhawk(Erythemis simplicicollis) hitching a ride on a thwart in my(rented) canoe. These girls were quite ubiquitous in the swamp and elsewhere. They, along with their male counterparts, are pretty and friendly, a winning combination in my(never) humble opinion.

Huge, Spanish Moss(Tillandsia usneoides) covered Bald Cypress(Taxodium distichum) along a waterway in the Okefenokee Swamp. As balding man, I consider it a great privilege to be associated with the beautiful, strong and graceful Bald Cypress.

Spanish Moss(Tillandsia usneoides), is neither Spanish, nor moss. It is an epiphytic member of the pineapple family, a bromeliad. It is native to the Southeast, not introduced from Spain. So there!

Though the swamp is full of dangerous creatures, it is a beautiful place: serene, quiet, and a great place to escape the madding throngs of Covina-19 infected people. Here, there are no throngs of any kind, except maybe mosquitos, gnats, and other annoying creatures, somewhat like their human counterparts.

Great Crested Flycatcher(Myiarchus crinitus), perched on a tree, over a clump of Spanish Moss. Another life bird for me, this lovely bird displaying its great crest, was photographed close to my campground.

Speaking of a really great crest, this is a Pileated Woodpecker(Dryocopus pileatus) was also pictured near my campsite. It is the largest of our North American woodpeckers and related to the now very probably extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker(Campephilus principalis). Note the wood chips flying from this avian jack-hammer.

Different individual, different tree, same avian jackhammer motion.

Water Lily(Nymphaea odorants). Fragrant, beautiful, and ubiquitous: In North America, they grow in all but three states and province in Canada.

Water Lily closeup. Water Lilys bloom on the waters surface, Lotus(genus Nelumbo) grow on stems above the surface of the water.

Wild Turkey(Meleagris gallopavo). The average Thanksgiving Day/Christmas Day diner could hardly guess that a turkey could sport such vivid colors. Their blue-green and pinkish iridescent feathers contribute to a remarkable color palette, especially when set against this vivid swamp landscape.

Male Eastern Pondhawk(Erythemis simplicicollis). Photographed deep in the Okefenokee Swamp. The adult dragonfly is a predator, but not as voracious as their larvae.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly depositing eggs. Check out the following YouTube video about the incredibly voracious larvae.

Dragonfly hitching a ride on the eyebrow of an adult American Alligator: some people have all the luck.

Green Anole(Anolis carolinensis). The anole changes its color depending on mood, level of stress, activity level and as a social signal*. They can even incorporate the color of shadows to enhance their ability blend into the environment. The red dewlap is used to signal a challenge by another male Anole, which in this case was me. So, not having a red dewlap, I met the challenge by just eating it! Just kidding!

White-tailed Deer(Odocoileus virginianus). The most common deer in North America. This doe was pictured near my camp site, which shouldn’t really be there, unless of course it is on the barbie.

Boardwalk on the Trembling Earth Trail. Okefenokee means trembling earth in the native Choctaw language. The earth trembles at the sound of the American Alligator when it makes its territorial vocalization, which I confused with a passing freight trail.

The boardwalk has been constructed over a portion of the swamp so visitors can experience the environment of a a living, breathing swamp. A gator, under the boardwalk, vocalized the following, “Who’s that trip trapping over my bridge”: really.

A look into the area beyond the swamp. I wonder what life would have been like for the people that lived and made a living in the swamp. Also I considered what it would have been to be an escaped prisoner trying the survive in the swamp.

Bog Orchid(Spiranthes diluvialis), with a spiraling flowering arrangement (inflorescence). In this case the genus name, Spiranthes, reflects the nature of its inflorescence.

Canoe trail trending north from the main channle. It was up this trail that I was startled by the vocalization of a large gator, which at the time I thought to be a: 1. Construction project; 2. Freight train; 3. Jackhammer; 4. Combination of a jackhammer/freight train/ construction site.

Technicolor Spider(my name): red, blue, yellow and green. I could not find a scientific name for this individual. I may very well be an introduced species.

Spotted Sandpiper(Actitis macularius). The dapper Spotted Sandpiper makes a great ambassador for the notoriously difficult-to-identify shorebirds*. I had to check the checklist of birds for the Okefenokee Swamp for the possibles, look at many images of similar birds to get an ID for this bad boy(girl).

Shermans Fox Squirrel(Sciurus niger shermani). Pictured in the Stephen C Foster State Park, located within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Area. They are tolerant of humans and common, a charming addition of the local fauna universally enjoyed, especially by children, but also adults.

 Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes). This somewhat tattered specimen was kind enough to sit still long enough for a decent exposure. The species is named after the figure in Greek mythology Polyxena, who was the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy*. Warning: The following image is of a snake, for those of you with aversions to these creatures, scroll down to the next image.

Water Moccasin(Agkistrodon piscivorus). The scientific name translates to “hooked toothed fish eater”*.

Reflections of Bald Cypress.

* referenced from Wikipedia

Published by sabaiedmsncom

I am a former park ranger, and coastal dune preserve manager, now retired and photographing the places that suit my wanderlust. I usually have a general idea of where I want to travel to, but once on the road I just follow my nose: it seldom steers me wrong.

9 thoughts on “The Okefenokee Swamp

  1. The pictures are amazing! The image of the water moccasin is now firmly implanted in my head should I come across one I shall not stick around long enough to get a picture.


      1. Hi William, Thank you for your kind comments. I replied, soon after I read your comments, but as I’m new to blogging, not sure I posted it correctly. This time I’m pretty sure this comment will get through black hole 🕳 of cyberspace. Please do feel free to post a reference to my blog on your web site. I did briefly log on to your site with the convenient link you left attached to the comments. Also say 👋 to your daughter, the master and commander of the good ship 🚢 Lollipop. I plan to post another blog covering my trip from The Okefenokee to Where I’m at now in Moab, UTAH.

        Liked by 1 person

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