Croatan National Forest

While vacationing at Emerald Isle, North Carolina, Michelle and I visited the 159,000-acre Croatan National Forest, known for its hardwood and longleaf pine forests and wetland pocosin communities.


In specific, we walked the Cedar Point tideland trail, which includes 1.6-miles of boardwalk.


The trail meanders through a coastal hammock (salt-spray climax community), dominated by live oak, American holly, red cedar (hence the name Cedar Point) and wax myrtle.  The low-energy shorelines of the intra-coastal waterway and White Oak River included tidal marshes with Spartina (salt-marsh cordgrass and salt-meadow hay), needle rush and salt panne glassworts.


Many, many acres of tidal marsh.


It was low tide and all of the exposed tidalflats contained marsh fiddler crabs.  As we walked near them, they would always scatter away.


The male fiddler crab has one monster claw and one mini claw.  He primarily uses the monster claw as a flag or signal to attract females.


Adult male and adult female fiddler crab, then with a nearby juvenile/developing male.


This site contains hundreds of thousands of fingerling and fry fish of various species that swim in waves of schools.


I tried to get some action shots of feeding egrets and other shore birds, and then definitely anything that I saw in flower.

Ipoma sagittata

The bold pink of the salt-marsh morning glory (Ipoma sagittata) dotted portions of the trail.

Seutera angustifolia

Twining onto other host plants, swallow-wort vine (Seutera angustifolia) was occasionally observed.  The demure swallow-wort flowers looked like stars.


Spanglegrass (Chasmanthium sessiliflorum) was common along the forested trail margins.

Borrichia frutescens

The only forb mixed with the grass, sedge and rush were seaside oxeye (Borrichia frutescens). 


After our morning hike we went to the beach with the family, and an eastern willet hunted the same waters that we played in.


The willet has long legs and a straight bill.  The bold white and black stripe on the wing stands-out to distinguish the species.


The fast running willets are common along south Atlantic beaches and are almost always seen alone, pausing to probe the receding waves for crabs and worms.