45 people walked around Stamp Act Island on Sunday the 7th and they seemed to have a great time. Because it is off limits except to those involved in its management, it is sort of like the forbidden fruit. The Stamp Act Committee arranged it with Jeff Lougee of the Nature Conservancy. The trip was planned for 20 people but the trip filled up less than a day. It was expanded to two trips and then each took 25. Apparently, there was pent up demand…..
The trip started from the North Beach and went to the old eagle nest tree where lots of dropped sticks were in evidence as well as fish bones and even the back third of a fish that was dropped. The old tree seems to be a common hangout for the eagles and a fish must have been recently dropped. One of the groups got to see an eagle land in the tree, look down and then fly away. Quite surprising to have people on the island, “They never are here, what is the deal?”
The tour then went crossed the outlet to the heron swamp and along the black gum swamp to the big trees that were never cut. The big pines and hemlocks are most likely over 200 years old. Then, the trip went past an area where there are three bird orchids. These are an endangered species and exactly the reason why the interior of the island is protected. These orchids are very hard to see and even though there were flags marking their positions, at a distance of 10 feet few could see them. On closer inspection, all enjoyed their unique beauty. They are about 2 inches tall with a flower that is less than half an inch in length, the smallest orchid in North America. It is a rare delight that Jeff Lougee found for the first time on the island. They are fragile and had the island not been protected, they probably wouldn’t have survived.
Walking through the woods was generally easy because there isn’t a lot of undergrowth for the most part. After the orchids, the walk went to the heron swamp which is now overgrown so that raccoons can get to the base of the trees. Herons don’t like to nest in this kind of swamp because the raccoons will climb the trees and eat the eggs or young. For this reason, the herons stopped nesting on the island and now nest elsewhere. The walk then returned to the north beach after seeing the forests of the island. They are unique in that the black gum trees are rare this far north and are some of the farthest north black gums in the United States. The forest is unique, too, because it hasn’t been logged for at about 100 years with some of it not logged for far longer. Because it hasn’t been logged recently, the trees are of all different ages. With logging, trees tend to be all of the same age because the older, bigger trees are removed.
The number of people wanting to go on the trip was amazing and another group will actually go out in a few weeks but that trip is full, too. Next year, there will probably be another trip so if you missed this one, you will probably get another chance next year.