Today Warren and I took the four hour naturalist tour of the Cape Fear and Black Rivers that I had taken last year. The weather was perfect and afforded me the opportunity to take some nice pictures along the banks. Surprisingly, there were the very strong beginnings of fall color. The Cape Fear River starts off as brackish in Wilmington and becomes more fresh water as you head north. It is the draining river for about 1/6 of North Carolina and provides the drinking water for Wilmington. At the south end of the tour, you see the remnants of the rice industry of the late 1700s and early 1800s where all the wood was clearcut. As you head north, it is a Cypress and Tupelo swamp. It was amazing to see no river banks, just a few areas where there was a small hill of dirt. Numerous creeks feed into the rivers. You can sign up for the tour here - Black River Nature Cruise .
I probably took a hundred of these scenic pictures along the river and it was hard to decide which ones to include in the blog. The lighting was just about perfect.
No tour would be complete without a sighting of a Great Blue Heron looking for lunch.
We spotted a number of Great Egrets along the way. This was in the abandoned rice fields.
The best treat was several sightings of a Bald Eagle. We saw two adults and a juvenile. There are only three nesting pairs known in the Southeastern North Carolina area. They were quite a ways off but certainly distinctive.
This gives a view of what the old rice fields look like and shows the rainstorm which we eventually succumbed to (but not too bad -- didn't even get wet). You can see how different it looks on different parts of the river.
Our narrator was Andy Wood who has regularly contributes to the local PBS station with a series of narratives and whose book I bought (Backyard Carolina). He is an ardent ecologist and the savior of a species of snails so it would endear him to my father. He has the only surviving local ramshorn snails which he saved from extinction. They won't tolerate salt water as they are a fresh water snail and during the various hurricanes the salt water intrudes on many of the local ponds.