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but folks around here say O-clock-knee - or something close to that.

Photo diaries about wildflowers and trees, birds and bugs, and maybe some critters as I wander and learn about the natural beauty of our world.
May 10, 2013

Yesterday I took my kayak out on the closest river to me. This is the Ochlockonee that flows down from south Georgia thru Florida to the Gulf. Altho it is late spring I figured there would be something blooming. Putting in at US-90 at the ramp, where the river separates Leon from Gadsden counties, I headed upstream.

I didn't go far before I had the camera out and struggled in the current to snap pics. We'll skip those pictures. Things were much better when I eased into some of the oxbows and swamps along the floodplain. Here's a quiet spot.

No current here altho the water was 1-2 feet deep, maybe more in old channels. Note the fuzzy balls floating on the surface; I'll get to those later if you paddle along below the fold.

When I looked up the Tall Timbers Research Station (right across the state line), I found this piece about the river:

Historic maps show the river as Ogeelaguanu, Ochlocononee, Ockatockany, O-clock-ney, Okloknee, Ochlochnee, Ochlocknee, Ochlockonee, Ocklockny, and Ocklockony.
Even now the name is spelled in various localized ways, and pronounced however one feels comfortable. Newcomers (like me once) try to say it phonetically as och-lock-o-knee.

Standing water here means Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum). The trunks widen for support and knees pop up. Their function is not clear.  

This closeup shows the leaf and cone. My tree book says California has more varieties of cypress; in Florida there is only Bald and Pond but it is in the same family as Atlantic White Cedar and Eastern Red-cedar.

So all those things floating in the water came off the hundreds of tupelos along the river. These are Ogeechee or White Tupelo (Nyssa ogeche).  Farther down the river beekeepers produce world-famous tupelo honey. Interesting read if you have the time.

Continuing with trees, another common one along the banks was Black or Swamp Willow (Salix nigra). This one already flowered and the seeds were starting to release their cottony puffs to the wind. To the right hanging out over the water is Pepper Vine (Ampelopsis arborea). That could have been in almost every picture.

In other places where the water was not moving, Yellow Water-lily (Nuphar lutea) will take root. Here's one with its pad.  Correction --- N. advena or Spatterdock. Sorry for the goof and h/t to psynder for kindly pointing that out.

a gorgeous closeup...

and then after flowering.

Only saw one American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) on this trip but it's prime time for blooms.

Growing along shore was this colony of Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus). They would have been well under water, maybe 4-5 feet, a month ago when the river flooded.

This was a cool find growing in a depression off the river. I thought it was odd to be there as wet as it was and surrounded by cypress knees. They are growing in my woods but in the dryer areas. First time I ever saw fruit on a Southern Crabapple (Malus angustifolia). No idea they were that small (1/2 - 3/4"). While common, it's a threatened species in Florida and like everything else - it's a loss of habitat.

There were dozens of turtles basking in the sun. These Cooters (Pseudemys concinna floridana) were kind enough to stay put for a picture before sliding off. There was another small one balanced on its belly with the 4 legs outstretched. Cracks me up every time I see that behavior.

Three alligators - that I know of. This one pushed off from a shady bank and drifted to the other side, watching me close, as I did it. On my return trip downstream this 8-footer was back on the sand, and since I was going faster and around a corner, I got a LOT CLOSER before it shoved off. About 20' offshore it lunged, thrashed and rolled. Guess it found food. I was impressed!

The bridge at I-10 - a lot of noise but I went under it to check things out before turning around. And there were barn swallows zooming around. So the bridge sorta sucks but then it provides a home for the swallows.

Other things I saw were a Yellow Warbler and a Prothonotary Warbler. There was also a shorebird of some sort I followed for a while but never got close enough to ID. Flying overhead once was a Swallowtail Kite. Something dropped and when I paddled over to see, hoping for a feather, it was a clump of bushy lichen. My guess was nest-building material.

Short trip, just a few hours, but as always, I got to see things I had not seen before. Hope you enjoyed it too.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Headwaters, and Community Spotlight.

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