A month ago we arrived at Stephen Foster State Park, GA in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp for a two-day camping stay. We visited a few times before on day trips and looked forward to this trip for quite a while. Prior to our arrival, the area received quite a bit of rain. We saw flooding on the drive there, and were not surprised to find the camping area quite wet. Camping in a swamp of that size, we expected bugs. Due to the additional wet and rain, including a couple of fairly deep puddles in our campsite, oh did we have insect life!
As a designated dark sky site, we hoped for some clear skies but did not expect them. It remained partly to mostly cloudy for the trip so no night sky gazing, but that just means we need to go back again. We had been warned that internet, TV, and cell phones did not receive seventeen miles into the swamp where we camped. Our mobile phones had a weak signal that fluctuated in and out, but not even strong enough to call or text.
We took the ranger tour on our prior day trips, and decided since we only had two days to skip it this trip and explore the other areas. We hiked around the campground area, and then drove up to Savannah River Sill recreation area where we spend two mornings. The first day we walked around, alone except for one other group. Later we ran into a birder who showed us where Swallow-tailed Kites had nested the year before and told us she heard that people were seeing kites so came daily to see if they returned. She went on her way, and as we left we looked across the access road, not too far from the nest area, and saw a Swallow-tailed Kite soaring over the trees.
The second morning we woke to fog, so had a quick breakfast, grabbed our cameras, and went back. This time we had the place to ourselves. The fog created some beautiful shots. The shot above came out exactly as it appeared, somewhat ghostly and alien looking. Then I turned around and saw this bird, the only white spot, flying across.
No description of the swamp would be complete without the requisite American Alligator picture. We saw other alligators on the opposite bank the day before, this one was just down the bank from the road where we walked.
We will return, and this time for more than two days.
We hope everyone is doing well during this time. The pandemic changed so much so quickly. Most parks and preserves around us remain closed. Normally this week we would have family staying with us and spend the week with them hitting all of our favorite birding hotspots. We talked on Easter and planned for next year when we can resume our several decade tradition…