Doerun Pitcher Plant Bog WMA: Part II

Doerun Pitcher Plant Bog WMA: Part II

This is the tale of our return to Pitcher Plant Bog. The story of our first visit is available here.

Mondays come easy for Rebecca and me. Her workload is generally light, and my four/ten schedule gives me the day off. It is a welcome rest after our busy weekends. On this Monday, I welcomed her suggestion to take another trip to Doerun’s Pitcher Plant Bog. I laughed because I had shied away from saying the same thing. When she told me she wanted to make a blackberry cobbler, how could I resist?  

Our plan was to focus on the wildflower trails that circle the bog and lake. The trail, boardwalks, and wildflowers are all dedicated to the memory of Ann Barber. According to the placard near the parking lot, Ms. Barber had taken an interest in the area and the plants that grew there. She invested a great deal of time studying the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem and spreading awareness about the unique wildlife and plants found at Doerun Pitcher Plant Bog. Her husband, Thomas Barber, who was a local farmer, donated the preserve to the state in 1996.

We set out for the boardwalk, listening to the countless birds hidden in the high canopy. The lovely chorus seems a mainstay of this forest’s spring and summer months—I recommend hearing it for yourself if you have a chance. After a few minutes of inspecting flowers, pitcher plants, and towering pines, we moved out along the eastern path. Our aim was to follow the bog loop around to where it meets the path leading northeast to the lake loop. We had visited the lake the day before and were sad that we hadn’t circled it then.

Further up the path we encountered our first obstacle: three large pine trees that had fallen across the forest floor, blocking the trail. I took careful steps to traverse the debris[1] and had continued a few steps down the path when I heard a THWUNK!  Looking back, I found Rebecca seated between two of the trees, groaning. I rushed back to see what had happened. While stepping off the tree trunk her footing had slipped,[2] and she had fallen to the ground. I checked her over, worrying about possible injuries and was distressed to find that her ankle had suffered a mild sprain. After a few minutes, I helped her up and she tested her foot. It was a tender but did not stop her from moving forward with our plan. I offered her help as she maneuvered over the remaining logs.

The north end of the bog loop was overgrown, and as a result it became difficult to keep the trail underfoot. After some wandering, we found it again, but another fallen pine barred our path. Rebecca suggested we take a break since her ankle was beginning to ache. We sat on the downed tree and had some water and a snack while we discussed adjusting course.

A Red-Headed Woodpecker flew into our area, lighting from tree to tree seeking its next meal.

A few moments later as we were watching a pair of Red-Headed Woodpeckers, a large bird took a scuttled flight over our heads and landed in the tall grass about thirty feet away. We waited in shocked silence for it to move again but after several minutes—it had not.

We whispered back and forth about what it could be and what to do next while we waited. Nothing. No sound. No movement. Just grass and wind. We concluded that it must be a Bob White Quail and that one of us would go spook it in the hopes of getting a photo—Rebecca offered but I went. I took slow, cautious steps toward where I thought the bird landed, scanning for any sign of movement and hoping to sneak up on it without startling it. Still nothing. I went further on and well past where I thought it should be. I found no trace of the Quail. No movements of grass or feather. No sounds except for my own footsteps.

I looked back at Rebecca and shrugged. I had just turned back to the path ahead of me when the bird broke in a fit. Panicked wings and clucks emanated from the area I had just passed through. I whirled around, half expecting the enraged avian to be chasing me down like a tornado of claws and feathers, only to see it flying back over Rebecca’s head before landing some hundred or so feet away in the grass and trees. I kicked myself for not letting her be the chaser. I rejoined her and we blazed a path back to the car, directly through the bog. Walking carefully with consideration of the muddy soil, the fauna, and the wildlife that may live there.

We drove east up the road between the young pine tracts when we spotted a pair of Blue Grosbeaks on the road. She stopped and I hopped out to photograph them in the grass and managed to get this lovely shot of the male Blue Grosbeak showing off his wing bars.

We were a little disappointed that we would not make it to the lake that day, but the blackberry fence was calling. While Rebecca walked the road and gathered berries for our cobbler, I would wander between the trees.

Within a few minutes I was spotted by a Carolina Chickadee. While Chickadees have a very well-known “Chick-a-Dee-Dee-Dee” call, what many may not know is that this very common bird call serves as an alarm to other birds and animals. Studies have shown that variations of the call[3], specifically the number of “Dees” supply nearby listeners information about predators or other potential dangers coming their way. The small black and white bird had found me, and it followed me into the forest—letting all the nearby birds know that I was there.   

At first, I thought its presence meant that I wouldn’t see any other birds, but I quickly spotted numerous Eastern Bluebirds, Downy Woodpeckers, and small Warblers moving through the forest with me as I was heralded by the call of the small Chickadee.

Ahead of me between the trees I could see a small spot of blue, I followed it as it moved from tree to tree until it rested next to another Eastern Bluebird. The female of the species is brown but carries a similar rust colored splash on the throat like the male. They waited patiently while I took their photograph.
I was quite taken with a small Pine Warbler that seemed to have an interest in letting me watch him as he darted through several trees. Unfortunately, Warblers are quick to move and difficult to photograph.

We soon reached the end of the Blackberry Fence; Rebecca was as satisfied with her harvest as I was with my photographs. We walked back to the car together and headed home to prepare for our next adventure.


We had a great time exploring Doerun Pitcher Plant Bog WMA. You can read the stories of our adventures there by following these links:

Part I Part II Blue Grosbeaks of The Bog

[1] There is always the possibility that an animal or reptile is sunning on or sheltering under a fallen log.

[2] It is a good idea to practice caution and check your footing when you traverse difficult terrain, falling trees scatter leaves, limbs, and bark that may obscure uneven ground of give way when you step on them.