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Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve

Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve in Southern Pines, North Carolina, is just the place to spend some time reflecting and pondering the mysteries of nature…or to add up some Fitbit steps in the middle of a long car ride! Either way, it is a beautiful place to hike. On a recent visit I snapped a few photos as I wandered the sandy paths amidst ancient pine trees and cheerful birdsong.

Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve

Brunswick County has the highest plant species density of any county in North Carolina, and the town of Boiling Spring Lakes is one of the most notable spots in the county. A 6000+ acre nature preserve was established in 2004 to protect hundreds of species, some of which are rare or endangered, that live in that small, varied parcel of the Carolina coastal plain. It was designated a nationally significant ecological site in 1995 by the NC Natural Heritage Program.

The Nature Conservancy manages the property and the nature trail, which fortunately for us,  makes some of the property accessible to the public. The trail begins at the Community Center on Leeds Road, running along the edge of a disc golf course before entering the woods and bogs of the preserve.

March is a little early for blooms but there were still some interesting ones when I visited last week. I’ve numbered my photos to match the gallery slider above, or you can click the number links below and see a large view of each one.

(1, 2, 3) As you begin the trail, the first boggy spot appears to your left.

(4, 5, 6, 7) Common pixie-moss (Pyxidanthera barbulata var. barbulata) is visible along the sides of the trail and in some cases, in the trail.

(8, 9, 10, 11) Sand-myrtle (Kalmia buxifolia) has a surprising flower if you think of kalmia as the mountain laurel one. The petals of sand-myrtle are separate and the stamens are free.

(12) Waterproof boots are a good idea. Sometimes you can just walk around the wet and sometimes you can’t.

(13, 14) Pine savanna

(15, 16) A dark water pond

(17, 18) Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)

(19) Dwarf sundew (Drosera brevifolia)

(20) Butterwort (Pinguicula sp.) ?

(21) Very big puddle

(22, 23, 24) Mystery shrub (Vaccinium) ?

(25) Dry sand and turkey oaks at the back edge of the disc golf course

(26) Longleaf pine juvenile (Pinus palustris)

(27) Looking up through the turkey oaks to the longleaf pines

(28) Yellow wood-sorrel (Oxalis sp.)

(29) Turkey oak leaves (Quercus laevis)

(30) Moss and lichens

(31) Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides)

(32) Pine needle-y forest floor

(33)  A weather-bleached longleaf pine cone

(34) Sandy path at the outer edge of the pine savanna

Winter at the Waccamaw River

Waccamaw River Roadside January (3)

January in the coastal plain has a subtle and irresistible beauty. I stopped at the Waccamaw River one day to get a couple of shots of the river, but of course the dried roadside plants got my attention, too.

Waccamaw River January Gone to Seed

This plant’s pods have long since splayed open to release the seeds.

Waccamaw River Goldenrod January

Fluffy down will float these goldenrod seeds far from home, if the birds don’t eat them first.

Waccamaw River Roadside January

The Waccamaw River is a blackwater river, which means the water is rich with tannins from fallen leaves that turn the color deep and dark. You can see the effects in this cattail lined ditch just a few yards from the river.

Waccamaw River Roadside January

The river’s source is Lake Waccamaw; it is the only river in North Carolina to start in a Carolina Bay, but all blackwater rivers begin (and end) in the coastal plain.

Waccamaw River January

Along the banks is a typical Carolina floodplain forest with oaks, tupelo, bald cypress, sycamore, sweetgum, red maple and some emergent pines.

Waccamaw River January

The effect of bleached tree trunks and black water is appealing. Birds call, and the water makes occasional plink and sploosh sounds. It’s soothing. Winter can be quite pleasant here.

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