Cypress Swamp

W H 512 W cypress swamp

This habitat, which includes cypress and tupelo trees, surrounds the lake and can be found scattered throughout the lake. These swamps provide a variety of habitat for animals from alligators to a variety of birds. The water levels fluctuate over the course of the year from highs in the winter and spring due to seasonal rains to becoming dry during the late summer. The plants and animals of the swamp are adapted to these changes; in fact cypress trees can only sprout when the swamp is dry. During a walk on the nature trail, visitors may encounter broad banded water snakes sunning on logs or swimming in the water, great blue herons fishing, male bowfin protecting their young in the water, and countless numbers of frogs. This area also serves as a more protected nursery for animals like turtles, frogs, and fish, where the trees and downed vegetation provide shelter from larger predators that may not be able to access areas. The brown water that is typical of the swamp is not contamination but rather a result of all the vegetation that ends up in the water and the tannins being leached from it. During the spring the variety and intensity of frog calls is a great indicator of water quality. The atmosphere of the cypress swamp can change dramatically from the leafy green of spring and summer to the barren trees of the winter. Cypress is one of the few conifers that lose its needles in the winter and the bare trunks and branches present a more haunted feeling. There is always something different to see in the swamp.