So after a light breakfast at the hacienda, off we went to Weeks Bay which is about a 20 minute drive on Route 98 towards Fairhope. As we drove along, we noticed that the pecan trees finally had leaves so according to local folklore I guess Spring has arrived in Alabama!
Our first stop was the Pitcher Plant Bog. Although we had seen the sign several times before, we drove right past it! The bog is a short distance down Fish River Rd. which is accessed on the north side of Route 98 just east of the bridge spanning the Fish River. The parking lot for the bog is just a short way on Fish River Rd and on the opposite side of the street (on your right) – it isn’t very well marked so proceed slowly after turning off 98 (we missed it and had to travel a good distance down Fish River Rd before finding a place to turn around).
Pitcher Plants are a native, perennial, carnivorous herb which attract insects with the colorful leaf rosettes that resemble flowers. The lip of the “pitcher” is particularly attractive as a landing zone and the veins that lead downward are baited with nectar. Following this lure, prey reach the curve of the tube, which is lined with fine hairs, all pointing downward. The animal falls into the pitcher, which contains rain, dew, and a digestive enzyme that soon dissolves the victim. Pitcher plants are classified as carnivorous rather than insectivorous because consumption includes not only insects but also isopods, mites, spiders, and the occasional small frog. In the spring the white variety which is primarily what we saw has a separate stalk with red flowers which attract the insects. Other wildflowers and orchids grow in the bog but they were not in bloom yet.
More photos are below but it was difficult taking pictures from the boardwalk. Better pictures can be found by clicking here.
After we left the bog, we returned to Route 98. A short distance after crossing the bridge over Weeks Bay, we made a left hand turn at the sign for the Weeks Bay Estuary Reserve Interpretive Center. When we entered, a woman at the desk provided information to us about the Estuary Reserve which does research on the plant and animal life in the estuaries.
An estuary is where the salt water and fresh water come together, creating a brackish mix. After talking with her for a few minutes, we looked at some of the displays and the live exhibits which included several varieties of snakes, a baby alligator, a blue crab and hermit crabs.
Outside is a 3/4 mile boardwalk which winds it way through the hardwood forest and has several observation platforms. A booklet is provided which explains the different types of shrubs, birds and animals that you might see during your walk. Along the railing are signs identifying each tree or bush which makes it nice.
After we left here, we drove to Fairhope where we had lunch at Panini Pete’s – more about that later. Highly recommend a visit to both the bog and the estuary!