Welcome to Part 9 (of 10) of Roaming the Red Hills, which originally aired on the April 14 episode of WFSU’s Local Routes. Through ten 3-minute videos, we’ll explore the natural soul of the Red Hills of Florida and Georgia, from the pine uplands down to its rivers, lakes, and farms. Thanks to Tracy Horenbein for creating original compositions for this video series. The series is narrated by Jim McMurtry.
For months, it looked like we wouldn’t be able to shoot our duck hunt video. Lane Green, retired director of Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy (and the Tallahassee Museum before) kept checking both Lake Iamonia and the Ducks Unlimited Migration Map, starting on November 21 when the season began. We exchanged e-mails every week or two, always with a report of little to no ducks. Visiting family in Massachusetts, I took a Christmas Day stroll in short sleeves, seeing hundreds of ducks on Duxbury Bay. Perhaps they saw no reason to fly south? As we approached the last week of the season, Lane kept reporting “only a handful of ducks.” We went ahead and scheduled a shoot for the last day of the season, Sunday, January 31. With low expectations, we scouted the site on the Friday before. Continue reading →
Below is a quick preview of our upcoming series, Roaming the Red Hills. The segments will air in three installments on WFSU-TV’s Local Routes, starting on Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 pm ET. Meanwhile, here on the Ecology Blog we’ll take our usual deeper look at the places, people, and ecology featured in each segment. Thank you to Gary Asbell for stopping our kayak and grabbing his guitar to sing his song about the Ochlockonee River, which scores most of the promo below. You also hear a little bit of our Local Routes theme by Belle and the Band. Tallahassee’s Tracy Horenbein (a regular guest on our OutLoud show from 1999-2007) has composed original music for the series. Funding for Roaming the Red Hills was provided by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
Rob Diaz de VillegasWFSU-TV
For a segment on duck hunting on Lake Iamonia, we met at 5 am, covered ourselves from head to toe in camouflage, and waited for ducks in the early morning sunlight. Photo credit, Georgia Ackerman, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
Our mission: to capture the natural soul of the Red Hills region in ten short videos. To me, this is the best kind of project, hitting all of the geek centers in the brain associated with producing ecology videos. We see a 7-day-old endangered red cockaded woodpecker, featherless and reptilian, get banded. We kayak a rugged four mile stretch of Ochlockonee River, on the Georgia side, where we spend as much time climbing over logs as in the boat (and get serenaded along the way). We off road through a longleaf forest in a 100-year-old horse-drawn wagon, the wheels of which can only be repaired by the Pennsylvania Amish. And then there’s the thrill of running through a burning forest with a camera. Continue reading →
Video: William Shakespeare grew up in nature, and it shows through in his plays. We visit Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy with wilderness survival instructor and star of National Geographic’s Live Free or Die, Colbert Sturgeon. As we walk down from Tall Timbers to Lake Iamonia, we gather wild food and explore Shakespeare’s knowledge of plants and their uses. Once again, FSU’s Dr. Bruce Boehrer makes the connections in this second installment of EcoShakespeare.
Rob Diaz de VillegasWFSU-TV
Oberon, the king of the fairies, sends Puck to find an aphrodisiac flower in the woods outside of Athens. Puck then uses a potion derived from the flower on the queen of the fairies, Titania, to set up some of the most comical moments of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
If William Shakespeare were alive today, would some local BBC producer ask him to show the plants of his native Warwickshire on camera? Or would he consider flying to Tallahassee to sample persimmons growing by Lake Iamonia for WFSU? In our year-end post for 2014, Dr. Bruce Boehrer starts to paint a picture for us of a man whose classic works are inextricably tied to his country upbringing. It’s cool to think that the things that inspired him also inspire us here in north Florida. He might have been right at home in the Red Hills region of farms, forests, and rivers; perhaps incorporating tupelo swamps and RCW cavities into his verse.
In the scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream that we explore in the video above, we see that he likely had a good knowledge of the plants that grew around him. Where Colbert Sturgeon extols pine needles’ abundance of vitamin c or the curative properties of St. John’s Wort, Shakespeare was versed in the magical properties of plants. It’s reflective of a contemporary world view, just as his sense of ecology in our last video was rooted in interpersonal relationships. He didn’t have the benefit of our science, but it is interesting to note that he had a general understanding of cause and effect in nature. He might not have understood greenhouse gases and their role in climate change, but he could conceive that people could cause an imbalance that would change the weather and upset plant productivity. Likewise, he knew that different plants had the ability to affect us, even if he didn’t understand the chemical basis for this. Magic is just a name for all that we don’t yet understand. Continue reading →
Last week on our Water Moves EcoAdventure, we showed images of polluted waterways south of Tallahassee. We in this area benefit from a large amount of protected lands, which surround us with scenic views as well as protect many of our rivers and streams. But Tallahassee itself is fairly urban; our paved roadways move pollutants into drainage ditches and sloughs instead of letting them sink into the ground to be filtered by the aquifer. Some waterways are more affected than others. Our lakes and rivers provide us with fresh fish and recreation; when they become compromised by algal blooms and other pollutants, they affect the health and economy of the communities around the resources. Continue reading →
The name Red Hills is perhaps underused by those of us who actually live here. That’s why the folks at Tall Timbers set out to reintroduce us to the area between the Ochlockonee and Aucilla Rivers, from Thomasville to Tallahassee to Monticello. In defining this eco-region and the benefits we receive from living here, I gained a new perspective on our longer running exploration of the Forgotten Coast and its own gifts and uniqueness. I’ve often written about miles of unspoiled coastline and how that benefits our seafood industry. But any large healthy tree has an equally large root system that we don’t see, and for our estuaries these are miles of unspoiled river banks, sloughs, springs, and lakes. In our last EcoAdventure we hiked along sloughs in the backlands of the Apalachicola River floodplain, little fingers reaching into the nutrient rich muck to send it on its way to the bay. In the video above, we visit the lakes of north Leon County, through which water enters the Floridan Aquifer. This is our water, the water I’m drinking as I write this. It’s the water that feeds our springs, such as those that in turn feed the Wacissa River. That water emerges from Wakulla Springs, which flows into the Wakulla River and down to Apalachee Bay. Continue reading →