My 4th Visit to Phinizy Swamp

Phinizy Swamp is a protected wetland located in Augusta, Georgia about a 20 minute drive from my house, and if I could, I would visit it more often than I do.  We strolled through the swamp 2 weeks ago for the first time since my daughter almost stepped on an alligator’s head here.  I wasn’t expecting to see as much bird life during late spring because wintering ducks have already migrated north.  However, I did see big flocks of spotted sandpipers (Actitis macularious) and chimney swifts flying over the water, and I also saw a couple of lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes).  The spotted sandpipers and lesser yellowlegs winter south of Augusta and spend their summers farther north.  Both are migratory transient species for this area.  The lesser yellowlegs breeds in Alaska, so these particular individuals were lagging far behind.  Spotted sandpipers breed through much of the Midwest.

2 spotted sandpipers and a lesser yellowlegs.

8 spotted sandpipers, 1 lesser yellowlegs, and a yellow-bellied cooter.

This was the biggest yellow-bellied cooter I’d ever seen.

We encountered a classroom with a professor and students who were studying the macroinvertebrates and water quality of the swamp.  Some of the macroinvertebrates they may have collected were backswimmers, a bug in the Notonectidae family.  These true bugs (Hemiptera) should not be confused with water boatmen of the Corixidae family.  Backswimmers swim on their backs, while water boatmen swim right side up.  Backswimmers are predators that feed upon insects, tadpoles, and minnows; water boatmen feed upon algae.  Surprisingly, both can fly and find isolated puddles where they won’t be eaten by fish. There is a dragonfly in the below photo as well.  Dragonflies are beneficial predators that eat mosquito larva.

Blue dragonfly perched over backswimmers.

The forest around the swamp consists mainly of water oak, loblolly pine, red maple, sweet gum, and cypress.  My favorite trees here, though, are the beech–otherwise rare in Augusta.

A week after I visited the swamp a man posted a photo on facebook of a bald eagle in Phinizy Swamp.  I hope I get to see a bald eagle here on my next visit.



4 Responses to “My 4th Visit to Phinizy Swamp”

  1. ina puustinen westerholm Says:

    Was trying to ‘gauge’ the actual size of the trutle (cooter) show. Now around here..up the mohawk river system.. that would be an..oldie..and a range of smaller ones..would be..hanging out, and well. Showing my lack of turtle did cooter..become a term for them? As to the eagles..about 2 weeks ago..a pair of eagles..flew over my half mile mark..of the daily hike. You just have to stop..gaze up..and allow such visions of the ..real us..going forward! Thank you..and DO..take another hike there soon. your daughter a pair of..thigh high..barbed wire wrapped boots!! ina

    • markgelbart Says:

      Cooter comes from the West African word for turtle…Kuta. Slaves ate a lot of turtle and 1 species is called the chicken cooter because it yields as much meat as a chicken.

  2. klassbenjamin Says:

    What do you think about a potential new national park in Georgia? If this were to happen (not too) likely I think it would be great considering that the Southeastern US is very biodiverse and underrepresented in the US national parks system.

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