2021 Blue Trail BioBlitz's Journal

April 13, 2021

Spotlight Species #7: Bald cypress

Spotlight Species #7:
Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)

What to Look For:
Bald cypress trees are large trees, growing up to 120 feet tall and 6 feet around. The tree is not bald but has needle-like green leaves. The “bald” moniker comes from the tree’s needles turning yellow or copper and then dropping early in the fall. They produce round green cones that turn hard and brown with tree maturity. Bald cypress trees also have cypress knees around them on the ground.

Where to Find It:
The bald cypress loves the wet soils of our wetlands, our humid weather, and our rainy days. You can find them in our swamps throughout the Waccamaw River watershed.

Why It Is a Spotlight Species:
Bald cypress trees have been in our watershed far longer than we have been! They can live for up to 600 years! They will be here in the watershed long after we’re gone.

Posted on April 13, 2021 21:57 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 08, 2021

Spotlight Species #6: Great blue heron

Spotlight Species #6:
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)

What to Look For:
Great blue herons are tall birds with long necks. They are typically a grayish-blue in color overall. They have a long orange-yellow bill and a black crown. Great blue herons have unique colorations. You might even recognize your local great blue from its markings.

Where to Find It:
Great blue herons are found on shorelines, riverbanks, and the edges of marshes, estuaries, and ponds. In the air, they have slow wing beats with a large wingspan.

Why It Is a Spotlight Species:
Great blue herons rely on our waterways for food. They fish in the shallows of rivers and marshes using their beak to spear or grab their prey. These birds rely on clean water along the Blue Trail to survive.

Posted on April 08, 2021 13:52 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 06, 2021

Spotlight Species #5: Eastern river cooter OR Yellow-bellied slider

Spotlight Species #5:
Eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna)
Yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)

What to Look For:
These two species look very similar. They are both black and yellow, but there are some good ways to tell them apart.
While both have yellow bellies, the yellow-bellied slider is ALL yellow while the eastern river cooter’s belly will have black pigments. The eastern river cooter has a longer lower shaped shell while the yellow-bellied slider has a more dome-shaped shell. Also, the eastern river cooter has a straight smooth shell edge whereas the yellow-bellied slider has a more sawtoothed shell edge.
They have different yellow markings on their faces. The yellow-bellied slider has a big yellow blotch behind the eye while the eastern river cooter has defined yellow stripes on the face.

Where to Find It:
You can find both species on the Waccamaw. They are basking turtles that like to hang out on logs and riverbanks to catch some sun. You might also spot these two species in your neighborhood pond.

Why It Is a Spotlight Species:
Both of these species can be found throughout our Waccamaw River watershed and are relatively easy to spot. The challenge is telling them apart! We hope you will learn a little more about our local turtle species.

Posted on April 06, 2021 16:30 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 03, 2021

Spotlight Species #4: Pine warbler

Spotlight Species #4:
Pine warbler (Setophaga pinus)

What to Look For:
Pine warblers are small birds with short bills. The species has a yellow throat, a yellow to olive back, a white lower belly, and grey and white wings. There is a lot of variation in their coloring, but all pine warblers are cute little birds.

Where to Find It:
Pine warblers like pine forests, of course! They are often found in forests and surrounding areas. The species is a common sight at bird feeders.

Why It Is a Spotlight Species:
Pine warblers really like to hang out in our Waccamaw pine forests. They know it’s the place to be and stick around during migration.
They are a vocal bird that likes to sing at any time with a song of 10-30 notes.

Posted on April 03, 2021 22:09 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 30, 2021

Spotlight Species #3: Carolina anole

Spotlight Species #3:
Carolina anole (Anolis Carolinensis)

What to Look For:
Carolina anoles can be either green or brown. They are about 5 - 8 inches long. Males have a pink throat fan.

Where to Find It:
Carolina anoles can be found all over the place! Check in bushes, on fences, or on your house for them. Anoles tend to live in wooded areas. They also enjoy basking in the sun during warm weather.

Why It Is a Spotlight Species:
We could not leave out this special little lizard. It exists throughout our entire watershed and even has our state name in its common name.
Though referred to as a green anole, the lizard can be brown or green. Due to its color-changing ability, it is sometimes also referred to as the American chameleon. But, of course, it is not a tru chameleon.

Posted on March 30, 2021 18:34 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 27, 2021

Spotlight Species #2: Redbay

Spotlight Species #2:
Redbay (Persea borbonia)

What to Look For:
Redbay can grow as a tree of bush from 30 - 70 feet tall. The bark is a reddish-brown. In the summer, redbay produces small yellow-green flowers in clusters and a dark blue spherical fruit.

Where to Find It:
Redbay grows in the rich moist soils along swamps and streams throughout the Waccamaw River Blue Trail. You will definitely find them around the shoreline of Lake Waccamaw.

Why It Is a Spotlight Species:
Bay trees are often credited with being the origin of the term “Carolina Bay” because they tend to grow around the bays.
These trees have a high mortality rate in South Carolina due to laurel wilt disease, a fungal disease carried by the redbay ambrosia beetle. One beetle can kill an entire tree!

Posted on March 27, 2021 18:42 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 26, 2021

Spotlight Species #1: Alligator Weed

Spotlight Species #1:
Alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides)

What to Look For:
The plants typically form into dense mats along the shoreline. The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped, about 1-2 inches long, with a distinct midrib (a vein that runs from stem to tip). The stems are hollow to provide buoyancy. The plant also produces a small white clover-like flower throughout the summer.

Where to Find It:
Alligatorweed likes to grow in wet or moist conditions throughout the coastal plain of the Carolinas. It forms a dense mat in the water. You may find it at boat ramps as it tends to be transported on boats.

Why It Is a Spotlight Species:
Alligator weed is an invasive species from South America. When not managed, the infestations can cause damage to our watershed including causing flooding, erosion, and navigation hazards.
Boaters can help prevent the spread of alligator weed by cleaning their boats of any vegetation when traveling between water bodies.

Posted on March 26, 2021 21:06 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 21, 2021

Beginning the Blue Trail BioBlitz

Welcome to the Blue Trail BioBlitz! Over the next month, we hope you will join us in documenting species throughout the Waccamaw River watershed. We want to see every living thing you can find from your backyard to the river! Share your observations of trees, birds, fish, insects, and anything else you may spot!

Every week during the 2021 Waccamaw Conference, we will be featuring two spotlight species. We will be posting journal entries about the species, where they live, how they live, and what is so special about them. If you can spot all ten spotlight species, you will be entered to win an award for being our Spotlight Species Spotter!

Our ten featured spotlight species are:

  1. Alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides)
  2. Redbay (Persea borbonia)
  3. Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis)
  4. Pine warbler (Setophaga pinus)
  5. Eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna) OR Yellow- bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)
  6. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
  7. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)
  8. Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)
  9. Atlantic marsh fiddler crab (Minuca pugnax)
  10. Spartina (Sporobolus alterniflorus)

We will also be featuring some extra special bonus species during our journey down the Waccamaw. We hope you will join us on this adventure and help us make the Blue Trail BioBlitz a huge success!

Posted on March 21, 2021 23:35 by waccamaw_riverkeeper waccamaw_riverkeeper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Archives