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.

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

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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.

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Many, many acres of tidal marsh.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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). 

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

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

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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.

 

 

 

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