American Holly

American Holly
American Holly

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Early Christmas Gifts from Okefenokee Swamp

In both the days when Indians lived in and around the swamp and when they were replaced by white settlers, the swamp gave them almost everything they needed, including food, building materials, and even fibers.

Today it's gifts are more for our spirit, and Okefenokee was especially generous Christmas Eve Day. Cindy and I left the East Entrance boat launch at 7:00 A.M. and started down the day use trail in time to watch the sun come up through the left-over clouds from yesterday's storm.  But soon the sun had brushed away the gray clouds, leaving only pink and white ones for us to enjoy.


Sun coming up 


View in the day-use trail

The early light turned the ordinary into magic and everywhere there were things that needed to be remembered and shared with photos.




I was particularly enthralled with the mastery this leaf had in rolling itself up into a golden horn. I listened closely but it must be waiting to play its music Christmas day.


I love the plant called golden trumpet, or never wet. I has the most beautiful blue-green and glowing leaves. Water will not stick to it so you never see water drops on it.

Orontium aquaticum


Just the best clouds left

Birds were very active our entire trip.  I started taking pictures of red-tailed hawks about the time the sun came up.  Catbirds and American goldfinch were often within sight and hearing, but too far for pictures.  Also two flocks of cedar waxwings stayed out of camera range. Lots of great egrets and first year little blue herons were too far and two brightly lit to make good pictures. A flock of ibis obligingly flew over while I had my camera on and ready to take their picture.  And we got really close to other species later.


Part of a flock of white ibis

The best of several photos of red-shouldered hawks

Cindy dressed for our cold (fifties) weather


This combination of colors and textures was another gift

A pair of sandhill cranes let us get close to them. Cindy was in the best place, closer still. 


Another crane landed just in front of Cindy, too close for her to take out her camera
Cindy found this barred owl and then guided me to it. It patiently sat around 
for both of us to take lots of pictures during two visits. 

The patient barred owl

Christmas vignette

I must have spent ten minutes enjoying bubbles made by our paddles and trying to photograph them.  For most of them, the camera wanted to focus on the reflections of trees instead of the bubble.  This one popped just after I got this shot.



Only a few minutes after we started, it was already time to go home. I was afraid to push my shoulders, or I would have been willing to stay out all day.  As it was, I got home a little after noon.

The end - for now

Merry Christmas.  Hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family.