GMLc, which stands for Good Morning Lowcountry, began in 2000 as a shared project among a bunch of metro desk editors. We all took turns writing it, each adding more and more peculiar stuff. Just kidding.
GMLc Proper began writing it full-time in 2004 and writes it 7 days a week ... unless we're on vacation, sick or had to leave suddenly to drive to Salkehatchie Swamp. In those cases, various reporters here at The P&C fill in by letting you in on their own peculiarities.
GMLc's anonymity is just for fun, and we say "we" because we started that way. If you'd like to call us and chat, please do so. We don't remain anonymous on the phone.
At GMLc's blog (gmlc.typepad.com), you can find our Rules of Etiquette for Living in the Lowcountry.
We're still in a somnambulistic state of holiday weariness. This will be the Big Nap before New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, on which pluffmudders eat Hoppin' John with field peas and hog jowls and Carolina rice.
You might have better things to do today, but while we have your nodding attention, we'd like to discuss an important topic the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has helpfully brought up.
That is the importance of dead trees to the Lowcountry environment. We hope you already know this. If you do, skip ahead to the next page of the newspaper. But it bears repeating.
Dead trees might be eyesores and considered useless by some. They're actually a vital part of wildlife habitat ... a place for animals to live, a feast for insects to eat, and a place for birds to rest and digest or drink from a freshwater lake.
Many woodpeckers feed from the wood-boring larvae of beetles and other invertebrates found in snags, wildlife biologist Laurel Barnhill says.
Woodpeckers also nest in dead trees, as do bluebirds, wrens, titmice, crested flycatchers, chickadees, nuthatches, barred owls, screech owls and kestrels.
Bats, squirrels, flying squirrels and raccoons like dead trees. Wood ducks and other ducks preen while sitting on their branches. Any number of wading and other birds rest on the branches of dead trees — blue herons, ibis, wood storks, anhingas.
Behind Chez GMLc, a stump in the water has provided anhingas a spot for drying their wings for decades. Across the lake, a large old, dead tree hosts dozens of white ibis in the late afternoon before they fly off to roost.
Dead trees are hunting perches for flycatchers, bluebirds, hawks and kingfishers, says DNR, and ospreys can nest in the large ones near open water.
Barnhill says there are two kinds of snags, which is wonderful news to GMLc. We had no idea. Hard snags are partially dead and will last for years. Soft snags have no limbs left and advanced heart rot. Both are vital to wildlife.
Find a guide to wildlife management on snags and downed logs at dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/publications/pdf/snags.pdf or call 803-734-3886
Feed the birds
DNR also reminds us that 53 species of nesting land birds in South Carolina are beautiful neotropical migrants. They include purple martins, ruby-throated hummingbirds, whip-poorwills, warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, flycatchers and thrushes. Habitat for them is degrading, and they are hungry.
Here's how you can help:
-- Drink "shade-grown" coffee. The older coffee plantations in the tropics support far more neotropical migrants in winter.
-- Keep cats indoors.
-- Support land-use, planning and zoning that protect forests, fields and wetlands.
-- Support conservation organizations that protect bird habitat and conduct monitoring, management, research and education programs. (The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Sierra Club, American Bird Conservancy, Lowcountry Open Land Trust, Coastal Conservation League, Ducks Unlimited, etc.) Conserve native plants and forests in your home landscapes.
For a brochure on South Carolina's neotropical migratory birds, write Neotropical Migrants, DNR, Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202 or call 803-734-3886.