August 1, 2020 Morris Island Conservation Area with Derek Dunnett & Erik Pohanka

We had perfect weather for our second post lockdown outing last Saturday.  MFNC members, old and brand new, joined Derek Dunnett and Erik Pohanka for a walk around Morris Island to view snakes, frogs, insects, plants, fish mammals, birds and whatever else presented themselves.  Again, this seemed to be an area of our region that some of the participants, myself included, had never visited.

We were treated to spectacles of Otters cavorting in the distant waters while they chomped on freshwater goodies, spiders wrapping up their prizes, fat “cats” (Monarchs, Tent and Tussock moths) and beetles munching happily on a multitude of various plant leaves, birds rushing back with some of those same fat “cats” to feed their broods and a good number of flighty dragonflies (Blue Dasher, Eastern Amberwing and others).  Some birds of note were Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Winter Wren, Belted Kingfisher and an exceptionally good view of an Ovenbird.  There was also much excitement at the end of the trail both with the overhead flight of an alas unidentified Accipiter species and a marvelous Argiope aurantia spider.

The panoramic view of the calm marsh and forest scenery belied the activity of the single-celled creatures living in the two-dimensional world of a leaf or the quiet walking of the Harvestman spider (not a spider at all) or the daily life and death struggles of a diversity of life forms.  Pausing long enough to note some of them on this outing brought a real richness to that view.  As Erik’s group lollygagged behind to watch a Northern Water Snake, we saw it try to get a table for one at a frog leg restaurant.  The strike was lightning quick, although it is not clear from the video if it was successful.  (Check out the video at the end of the photo gallery.  You can be the judge).  Excitement did not come only from the animal world either: To quote one participant “We almost lost our leader as he leaned out over the river from a loose rock to get a freshwater mussel so’s we could get introduced to the private parts of the mollusc.”  Hmmm….. I am going to have to start rating these outings.  Erik, do we need to talk?

As the day got hotter, more picnickers arrived, the parking lot filled up and the naturalists gave over their spaces.  The area is open all year round.  I am told the snowshoeing is lovely and I can’t wait to see what its like in the Fall too.  Thank you once again Derek and Erik.  And thank you Participants.

I hope this encourages other members to get out and enjoy Morris Island Conservation Area as well.

Respectfully submitted,

Janet McCullough, MFNC Field Trip Coordinator