Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Robe Bayou

Summer is winding down and fading to a hot and muggy close. It is still way too hot outside, but last Saturday I decided to brave the high temperatures and take a quick trip out into the woods.

I decided to pay another visit to the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, a swampy area about fifty miles east of Little Rock. There are several neat spots, with lots of cypress and tupelo trees sticking out of the swampy waters. This area, near the Cache and White Rivers, is also where the presumably extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was supposedly spotted a few years ago. Although the search for the elusive bird has pretty much ended, there are still many signs out there that show the bird and how to identify it. When I last visited this area, in 2007, I thought that I had possibly gotten a picture of the Ivory-Billed woodpecker, but was never sure. See if you can spot it in this picture....
Searching for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

The shot above was taken at Apple Lake (which I guess if it has "Apple" in it, it should be called the iLake). This is a neat little lake, the water is filled with cypress and tupelo trees. It's just a short walk around the edge of the lake, with views of the trees and maybe some local wildlife.

I knew there was no chance that I would actually see an Ivory-Billed woodpecker out there. I was more interested in making sure that I didn't have a run-in with any snakes. This lake would also be a great home for some alligators, and part of me wanted to get to see one in the wild. Of course, as long as the gator was pretty far away (but close enough for good pictures). And if the gator had first sent me a signed and notarized letter in which it promised not to eat me.

I was walking along the lake when I heard a large splash in the water, and saw a line of bubbles drift up in the water. Apparently I had just disturbed and annoyed some animal. I stared carefully at the water, and could just about make out some sort of animal moving about in the murky fathoms of Apple Lake. Was that an alligator tail? It was probably more like the light playing on the water, combined with an over-active imagination. But after that, I didn't dare get close to the water.

But that would be about the extent of my wildlife sightings out there. The most exotic creature I ended up seeing at Apple Lake was a dragonfly. And the light was really harsh and all the pictures sucked. So I headed back to the air conditioned comforts of the car.

My next stop was the Robe Bayou Canoe Trail and Scenic Drive, located just down the road from Apple Lake. This is a short, but really neat drive that runs alongside Robe Bayou and then ends at a very nice lake. There are tons of scenic trees along the dusty gravel road.
P9185079 copy

The scenic drive ends at Hickson Lake, which is lined on both banks with tall trees. The lake is also perfectly situated so that the light from the late evening sun casts an amazing golden glow on the distant trees on the opposite bank.

I explored more of the shoreline along the lake, which included a neat spot where there were tons of cypress knees, sticking up out of the ground like skyscrapers. I was amazed that I didn't see any snakes lurking in the dead leaves around those towering cypress knees.

I ended up heading back to one certain spot, which provides some easy access to several great views of the lake. The sun had sunk lower, and the rays were catching hold of a few trees nearby. I really loved how they looked against the distant trees reflected in the calm waters of the lake.



The light was fading as it was getting closer to dusk, but there was still a lot to see there...

And one last shot, taken of the distant shoreline at dusk:
I can't wait to head back out there in a few weeks, when those trees have turned into their vibrant fall colors. Maybe I'll be lucky to catch the trees at their peak, with perhaps a touch of fog on the water. Or who knows, maybe there will be an Ivory-Billed woodpecker hanging out on one of the trees? I know I wouldn't be so lucky, but I'm looking forward to the return trip...

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