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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Field Trip to Shaken Creek - August 2015

Shaken Creek Field Trip
Pender County, NC
August 8th, 2015
Property Owned by The Nature Conservancy

Camassia Slopes Field Trip
Northampton County, NC
April 7th, 2015
Preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy
- See more at:
Camassia Slopes Field Trip
Northampton County, NC
April 7th, 2015
Preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy
- See more at:

 Sarracenia Savanna

"This word is so beautiful, that I can hardy believe it exists." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The second weekend in August took me to a wonderful North Carolina natural preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy(TNC) called Shaken Creek. We had great weather with overcast skies, which made for ideal lighting for photography.  Although it was warm, it was cooler than a typical August day.

Encompassing more than 6,000 acres in Pender County, Shaken Creek contains rare ecosystems once more common and widespread in the eastern US. First a little about Shaken Creek: 

Shaken Creek Preserve is one of the best natural areas in existence today on the entire Atlantic seaboard. The grassy openings and pine flatwoods are home to carnivorous plants, Venus flytraps, wild orchids, and other showy wildflowers. Pine forests surround these ecosystems and provide habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and migrant songbirds. 

From The Nature Conservancy’s website: 

“While Shaken Creek Savanna is a treasure in its own right, its location is equally important, sitting as it does in the midst of one of The Nature Conservancy’s highest conservation priorities, the Onslow Bight landscape. A "bight," for which this place is named, is a long, gradual curve or bend in a shoreline. Shaken Creek is situated between two vast protected areas: 100,000 acres at the Holly Shelter Game Land and Angola Bay Game Lands, which the Conservancy played a large part in preserving, and more than 150,000 acres at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base.”

Now about the field trip. My friend Jackie and I arrive early and found several people already at the meeting place. Our field trip leader Hervey McIver, who works for TNC, showed us an aerial map of the entire region with the boundary lines for Shaken Creek. He told us about how TNC worked with a local hunting club to created this very important and special nature preserve. He also agreed to answered our many questions both about the native plants and habitats we would visit today.

Succession of pine flatwoods after a burn in June

Our first stop was longleaf pine flatwoods recently burned in June. The scenic landscape was dotted with stately Longleaf Pines(Pinus palustris) and blanketed underneath with fresh green Wiregrass(Aristida stricta), Bracken Fern(Pteridium aquilinum) and Smooth Meadow-beauty(Rhexia alifanus). There were many photo ops for this showy wildflower.

Plus I found a very pale Rhexia alifanus(pictured on the left) and a few scattered Short-stemmed Meadow-beauty(Rhexia petiolata) pictured on the right.

Many of the folks carried cameras so I as a photographer was in good company.

Our next stop was a large open savanna filled with Yellow Pitcher Plants(Sarracenia flava). 

Along the pocosin ecotone we found other goodies including Southern White Fringed orchids(Platanthera conspicua), Purple Pitcher Plants(Sarracenia purpurea), Few-flowered Milkweed(Asclepias lanceolata) and a couple Coastal Plain Bog Asphodel(Triantha racemosa). Meadow-beauties were mixed with the pitcher plants too.

White Fringed Orchid & Pitcher Plants
White Fringed Orchid

Purple Pitcher Plant
Few-flowered Milkweed

Bog Asphodel
Meadow-beauty w/ Pitcher Plants

After the group called it a day, Jackie and I wanted to make another stop on the way home by the roadside where earlier I spotted several orange colored orchids. We were pleasantly surprised to find a group of Crested Fringed orchids(Platanthera cristata)....


and Pine Lilies(Lilium catesbaei).

Pine Lily and opened flower
Same two plants two days later

Pine Lily w/ last season's seed capsule

Pair of Pine Lilies

After spending a considerable time photographing these botanical jewels we headed home until next weekend's coastal Carolina adventure.



Arleigh said...

I spent a lot of time there one year, going at least once a month, with the exception of the month that the line lily was blooming. Oh well.

Jim Fowler said...

Wonderful trip report, KT. That area of NC is one to watch in the future. It looks to be one of the best botanizing areas in the state.

Jim Fowler, Greenville, SC

Linda said...

Beautiful photo and your header is stunning!

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