Category Archives: Tate’s Hell State Forest

What’s blooming on Womack Creek?

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False foxglove.

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Snow squarestem.

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Swamp azalea — premature or way late in blooming. This is the first time we’ve seen this azalea off the Ochlockonee River, leading to the creek.

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Marsh tickseed — a favorite of insects.

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Swamp leatherflower, clematis crispa. You’ll see thorny-like balls of seeds on these vines also.

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Just starting to bloom, climbing aster. In a few weeks there will be masses of blooms on the creek.

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Common sneezeweed. Just a few still blooming; most are in seed.

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Green fly orchids. One of our favorite plants on the creek — these seem to bloom continuously.

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Water hemlock. A blooming aberration — most have bloomed months ago. Water hemlock is a very poisonous plant and affects the nervous system of mammals which ingest it, killing them within minutes.

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Pickerel weed. Another favorite of butterflies, bees and wasps.

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Not sure that this technically can be called a flower, but it’s the second dodder plant we’ve seen on Womack creek since last year.

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To end with a flash of red — a color (with green) of the end of the year, cardinal flower. We have stands of lushly blooming cardinal flowers almost everywhere we have paddled in north Florida.

Mud Turtles — Midgets of Charm.

Maybe it’s just perception, but sometimes stuff you’ve never known keeps occurring within a short period of time.

Earlier this year, we encountered a mud turtle making its way across the road on our way to Womack Creek in Tate’s Hell SF. We stopped. I photographed. Just to make sure it wouldn’t get run over, I carried it over to the side of the road it was headed. It was light . It’s limbs tightly encased in its shell, it felt really nice in my palms. And then I forgot the experience.

Two weeks ago at a Tallahassee Sierra Club, George L. Heinrich of the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust spoke about spending one year — the year of the turtle — trying to locate over 59 turtles throughout the US. One of these was the mud turtle, in Texas, where the access was protected because poachers love mud turtles — for the pet trade.

Even then, I didn’t remember that mud turtle we had seen on Jeff Sanders Road. Reviewing photos on inaturalist.org I came across a photo of a mud turtle we had taken at Rock Landing off the Crooked River in Tate’s Hell SF. By then, I had enough information about mud turtles to make it stick in my mind.

Two days ago, while paddling Womack Creek, on river right where most cooters and sliders do not seem to like as much as river left, on a branch of a submerged tree, I glimpse a small turtle. It’s unusual shape caught my eye and I back-paddled and got into a thicket of branches. This little one didn’t move — most turtles will plop into the water at first sign of even the slight chance of encroachment. And as I tried to maneuver my kayak through all the branches, it stayed there, not evening hiding its legs within it’s shell.

This one looks like a Florida Mud Turtle, Konosternon steindachneri except that Amphibian and Reptiles of Florida (Krysko, Enge, Moler) says that it’s endemic to the Florida peninsula south of the Suwannee River. Apparently the other similar species K. subrubrum is to be found west of the Suwanne River, so it might be that also, or a hybrid, which the authors think possible. I’ve posted it on inaturalist.org, so I may be revising this paragraph.

BLOOMS GALORE ON WOMACK CREEK – MARCH 26, 2019

With a gentle spring breeze, these American snowbells were a troupe of dancers — those exiting the stage falling into the water, creating another stage of departing flowers into the creek below.

Virginia sweetspire at eye level, clustered blooms bobbing in the breeze.

Up above, false indigo with spikes of purple flowers are almost invisible surrounded by deep green leaves.

Fetterbush is just beginning to flower.

The hollies are blooming, yaupon and American and soon dahoon.

And soon, the roses will be blooming.

More is yet to come.

Come see the first act: paddle Womack Creek.

A LOVELY DAY TO BE PADDLING – WOMACK CREEK.

Blue sky. Temperatures in the 60’s. A spring breeze which wafts the scent of blooming flowers.

Insects are out, including butterflies, their wings looking like stained glass windows, the sun glistening colors through them

Pinxster azaleas blooming on both sides of the creek, the landscape punctuated by white blackberry blossoms , fringe trees and swamp dogwoods. Rusty blackhaws, high above, blooming white clusters as large as my fist; dots of orange cross vines and American wisteria above.

Natural perfume, spring palate of colors, breeze caresses — all’s well with the world.