May 1998

May 6, 1998

Dear SCAN members,

The weekend trip to Beaufort, the ACE basin, and Hunting Island State Park turned out to be outstanding. The weather was beautiful and having an expert on the seashore animals of the southeast made the trip very enlightening. Thirty nine members and guests were treated to an hour of observation of the variety of species living on and near the Beaufort docks. This was one of the best attended trip in the ten years that I have been a member of SCAN. After lunch, the group took a 5+ hour boat ride through the ACE Basin. Many shore birds were out and about as well as a mink, a river otter, and dolphins. We also went to Morgan Island where approximately 4,000 Rhesus-Macaque Monkeys are living on this 35-acre island. The island is maintained by the government and the monkeys are used for research. Two of the monkeys put on a show for the people on our boat.

See the Flora/Fauna ListSunday’s visit to the beach at Hunting Island State Park also turned out to be very enlightening. Pieces of shells were all that was required by Ed Ruppert to identify the former resident of the shell and to describe details of its activities. The evidence of the diversity of creatures that had been on the beach was absolutely amazing. The enthusiasm of the group for the information being provided by Ed brought several young visitors to the beach to listen in. One young man shared his large ghost crab with the group.

See the Flora/Fauna ListSpecial thanks are due to Ed Ruppert who suggested this highly successful trip as well as planned and lead it. Thanks are also in order for Mary Garland Douglas, our Southern Regional Director, and Jennifer (Ed’s wife) for helping with the planning and being a resource.

Ken Boni, President

Butterflies on Exhibit! If you are a butterfly enthusiast or just have some children to entertain, there are at least three butterfly exhibit options this next week – one short term, one summer-long and one permanent.

Short-term is an exhibit in Charlotte is sponsored by The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden entitled “Butterflies in Flight”. It is only going to be set up from May 8 through May 17, at SouthPark of Charlotte (shopping center) at Fairview Road and Assembly Street. It is to be a 3000 sq. ft. aviary with over a 1000 butterflies. For the duration of the summer Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden in Columbia will again have their butterfly house and exhibit set up adjacent to the botanical garden, and a permanent butterfly house is now open at Cypress Gardens near Moncks Corner. This last facility is now owned by the City of Charleston, and includes other insects as well as the featured live butterflies. Any of these should provide a worthwhile visit.

Pink Beds Ecology: If you read the next page you will find our destination for the May trip has changed. An imminent rock slide had to be removed from the Parkway, closing the section we would use to access the trailhead for Gage Bald. Instead of mountaintop habitat we will be examining a bowl area that is headwaters to a major tributary of the French Broad River. It is a relatively flat area approximately one mile wide and six miles long. There is standard mountain woodland habitat of the Southern Appalachians but there are also boggy areas which harbor some rare and endangered plants. We can walk in to the edge of a large shallow pond created by some very dedicated beavers! Many aquatic insects have already moved in and call this home, along with a good selection of reptiles and amphibians. Blackburnian Warblers and probably Sawhet Owls nest here. Open areas developed to promote wildlife management provide good habitat for lots of ‘dry land’ insects, too.

Pink Beds

Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Ranger District (Transylvania County, North Carolina)

May 23, 1998

Because a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway west of Highway 215 was closed for rock slide work at the time of writing this newsletter and there was no guaranteed date of re-opening, our planned trip for May has been changed. This month we will visit the Pink Beds, an unusual forested upland bog known for it’s varied flora. The Pink Beds Loop Trail is no longer a loop and has been shortened due to beaver dams backing up water, however, the area is extremely rich in mountain plant material and fauna. This should be an excellent time of the year to be in the mountains.

Bring sunscreen, insect repellent and plenty of liquids to drink. Plan to be on the trail at 10:30 am. This area is very popular for picnics and the parking lot should be busy. If we finish this trail early, there are several close additional sites we can visit.

For those folks who are spending the night in the area (this is not an official overnight SCAN trip), we are looking into canoe rentals for a possible Sunday morning excursion. Details will be given at the start of Saturday’s field trip.

Directions: the Pink Beds Picnic Area is located on US-276 0.2 miles West of the entrance to the Cradle of Forestry. Traveling West on US-276, take the first entrance on the right past the Cradle of Forestry. Note that if you are traveling east on US-276 (down the ridge from the Blue Ridge Parkway), the Pink Beds Picnic Area is just before you get to the Cradle of Forestry and is identified only by a sign that reads “Wildlife Viewing Area”.

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