This has always been a special place for us. Beidler Forest is located in the Four Holes Swamp, and is managed by the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy. Beidler features a mile-long boardwalk through dark cypress swamps. It is best experienced early morning or evening when birds and animals are more active. It is also best experienced in silence, as the slightest noise can send the wildlife scurrying.
We arrived at 10:00 AM, a bit later than we might have liked. We also spotted three school buses – not a good sign for having a quiet walk and seeing anything. The folks at the center let us through quickly so that we would be ahead of the classes, and would be the first onto the boardwalk.
We walked quickly for the first portion of the trail, trying to get ahead of the groups. When we slowed, we were finally able to spot several Prothnotary warblers, yellow-rumped warblers, many birds that we heard, rather than saw. We also spotted several snakes in the water – one identifed as a red-bellied water snake, and the other unidentified.
We finally made it to Goodwin Lake and came upon a white-tailed deer – a young buck just starting to get antlers. At about that time, one of the classes arrived at the lake, and the buck took off. The class was very well-behaved, and we stuck around for awhile, seeing several more snakes and turtles.
We had the back portion of the boardwalk to ourselves, and were able to see more birds and reptiles. We heard a barred owl, but weren’t able to catch a glimpse. Soon we were back at the center, and decided to let the school groups have the place for their picnic while we search for more wildlife elsewhere.
Any time you visit Beidler you always take a chance. Today’s school groups were well-behaved and for the most part stayed quiet and interested. Still, they werre kids and there is a certain amount of noise associated. We have been at Beidler when some adults (and kids) have talked loudly the entire walk, then complained when they didn’t see anything.
For more pictures, take a look at this Flickr group.