This edition will incorporate several walks through the local small bits of nature and a more ambitious first visit to Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge along the Great Pee Dee River.
Below, I found these Black and Yellow Mud Daubers (a very large and harmless wasp found through out Eastern North America, south of the boreal forest. The northern range limit is where I live in the Ottawa Valley) active on a bridge over a wetland in the Wildlife Refuge. They appeared, to me, to be bigger than the 30 mms size given as average in the references. Most wasps ARE harmless to us. They are specialist, often solitary, predators of other insects and arthropods....and not aggressive to humans. Some prevalent social wasps, like Yellow Jackets and Hornets, cause people to be fearful of all wasps, which is unfortunate, as most of them are very ecologically beneficial.
Another Canadian stalwart is the Hepatica, (below) an ephemeral Spring flower at home appearing in late April. Here, it wasn't common, but I found some flowering in mid March.
As the sign above tells us, the Longleaf Pine was an over harvested tree in the southeast, and Refuges are helping to recover part of this essential habitat. I didn't find a Red-cockaded Woodpecked on this trip. I am hopeful to find one or more during a future visit. Below, is the trunk of a Longleaf. The rectangular shingles are distinctive and help to identify this tree.