Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nellie Pond

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Surrounded by frequently burned longleaf pine and turkey oak sandhill, Nellie Pond is one of the gems of Conecuh National Forest. I can remember when this isolated, semi-permanent, and naturally fishless pond was full of bluegill, shellcracker, and bass, and its shallows teemed with millions of mosquitofish. Fortunately for the amphibians, it dries completely every few years, frustrating the locals who have traditionally kept it stocked with fish that don't belong in such a place. I first found gopher frogs here in the late 1980s, making it one of the few breeding sites in Alabama for that rare species. The pond (actually a complex of three ponds that merge at high water) also supports tiger salamanders, ornate chorus frogs, barking treefrogs, alligators, chicken turtles, and banded water snakes, to name a few. I took this vertical panoramic photo yesterday for possible use in a gopher frog exhibit at a prominent regional aquarium. This shows what Nellie Pond and its surroundings look like when the winter-breeding amphibians are there.

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