I live near the wonderful Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is located in the northwest corner of Alabama about 10 miles outside of the Florence, AL city limits. It comprises an area of slightly more than 1,000 acres of primarily grasslands. The cave itself lies along the banks of the Tennessee River- which the refuge borders. The cave is home to a few endangered species including the Alabama cavefish (Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni) and also the endangered gray bat (Myotis grisescens). (Official Website Link)
The following photos are from my walk there on the evening of June 14, 2009. In the past, when I have strolled through its fields, it seemed that I had the entire refuge to myself- however, on this visit I was delighted to meet a few additional nature enthusiasts who were also out for a walk and enjoying the beautiful sights, sounds and the wonderful smells of the refuge. And the tastes of the refuge as well- The Chickasaw Plums were ripening and made for a nice snack- although they were slightly bitter- but not bad.
Key Cave Wildlife Refuge Welcome Center
Chickasaw Plum (Prunus angustifolia )
Gray Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)
Prairie Mimosa (Desmanthus illinoensis)
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
Lesser Daily Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)
Partridge Pea (aka Sleeping Plant) (Chamaecrista fasciculata )
Peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum)
Purple Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata )
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa )
White Basswood (aka American Basswood)(Tilia americana)
Smooth Vetch (Vicia villosa)
American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)
Pastel seeds of the Tree of Heaven (aka Stinktree)(Ailanthus altissima)
The "Tree of Heaven" is a hardy invasive that was the inspiration for the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
Wood Sage (aka Canada Germander) (Teucrium canadense)
And as I settled into the car to travel home, I noticed this "sun dog", which was an excellent image on which to cap off a great walk.