Along the Natchez Trace

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

I had another post started....  yesterday....  

The internet service at our rig is sporadic at best
Since the blog I started requires a mind not frustrated with interrupted service, I'll work on that another day.  

Today I'll take you on a walk through the woods...

I keep talking about public interest and public use...  (which, in part, what the post I started yesterday is about).

There are well over 10 miles of trails at this refuge.  The majority of the trails is at the Chapman parcel, which is a couple of miles from the visitor center/headquarters office.  There is a kiosk at the trailhead which holds maps, brochures and other informational material.  We try to track just how many people actually use those trails...
Trail Counter
No, Bill doesn't sit behind a tree and count the people as they walk by...  The photo on the right shows the trail counter and Bill is taking a reading of the numbers and resetting it to start over again at zero.
It is battery operated...  motion sensitive.  The photo on the left is of the reflector.  It is located on one side of the trail...  the counter is mounted directly across the path on the other side.  When an object (person or fairly large animal) passes between the reflector and the counter, it trips the signal - changing the total number.

There are trail counters located at the two major trailheads...  one over at the Chapman parcel and the other at the 1.2 mile trail that loops around the visitor center.  

The total isn't exact...  we have no idea if folks walk the loop or return the way they came.  Folks walking side by side would only count as one.  Also, a bear or moose could trip the counter as well.  But it gives us an idea how much the trails are being used.

It's just another way to gather information about refuge usage.

Look Down....
There is just so much to see if we just take the time to look.  Starting at the upper left corner are some ripe raspberries.  I'm surprised the bear haven't found them!  Next to that is a pile of bird feathers...  I don't know what kind of bird... thought at first it might be a kind of woodpecker... black and white spots on some feathers....  Wish I knew.  The upper right picture is of British Soldiers.  I love coming across this lichen....  they are just about the size shown, so you have to watch for them.  Lower right is sphagnum moss...  there are a lot of wetlands here... vernal pools, etc.  ....  it's like walking on a very deep carpet when you cross over one of these areas.  Bottom middle are plants in the dogwood family...  with a big pile of moose poop among them.  And the lower left...  Indian Pipe... a saprophytic plant that has no chlorophyll.   

The new trail now skirts a wetlands area.  There are plans to expand this trail already....  and maybe build a board-walk like structure so that folks can see what's in the wetlands without disturbing anything.

I'm not the only one who enjoys a walk in the woods...
  This young black bear was ambling down the road in front of me the other day.  It ran off into the woods when it realized I was around.

Mama Doe and her Twin Fawns
I didn't have my 300mm lens with me....  but there's no doubt that these deer saw me.  That's a wood duck nesting box that's in the left foreground.  The metal "funnel-like" thing just below the box is a predator guard...  keeps critters from climbing up the post and having eggs (or young'uns) for dinner.

So, if you're going for a walk in the woods, look around.... down low, up high.... 
Great Blue Heron

You just don't know what you might see.

That's All For Today!

See where we are.


  1. Since becoming full timers I have really tried to learn to actually see things. Spent most of my life roaring around and never really seeing. But that's a hard habit to break. I didn't know there were any plants out there without chlorophyll.

  2. I'd love to see some Indian Pipe. I've been told there are pitcher plants at Alligator River. I just have to figure out where. They're one of my favorite plants too.

  3. Every post is a nature lesson! I love it! You mentioned poutine so I googled it to learn there are several upscale restaurants in Minneapolis that serve it. Personally, the combination of french fries, cheese curds and gravy does not appeal to me much. On the other hand, buckwheat pancakes are an utter delight!

  4. Good advice - look around - that is what I tell my grandgirls. Most herons I see are standing near water. How fun to see one perched at the very top of a tree. And wild raspberries - what a treat! We have lots and lots of wild blackberries, huckleberries, and tayberries, but I don't know where any wild raspberries might be. They sure wouldn't be around long if I found them!!

  5. Thanks for the info on the trail counter, didn't know such a thing existed. I'll be looking around for trail counters now...I'm pretty good at looking for that other stuff because I'm always looking for a photo op! Once I saw that bald eagle at Grand Tetons I got better at looking up now and then too!

  6. I enjoyed your walk through the woods especially seeing that bear ambling down the road in front of you.

  7. You know so much about plants and nature. I love your blogs because I learn about things I have never heard of nor seen. I too love to look around, up and down. It helps give me ideas of what to write about and actually puts me in the mood. I never knew those counters existed but it doesn't surprise me. We are tracked all over the place so why not in the woods too?