Saturday, July 23, 2016

Birds and Dragons in the Low Country!

First, a little milestone - this is my 500th post on this blog!  Plus, my 6.4 miles at Pinkney Island National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina last week put me over 100 trail miles for the year - halfway to my goal!

We were mainly in South Carolina for some beach time in the wonderful and warm ocean.  But one morning, I was out at daybreak to get in a little hiking and see some birds.

Here is my route, starting and ending at the blue arrow in the lower left.  The point on the right that I hiked to is Bull Point.  The small loop towards the right was my walk around Nini Chapin Pond.

This is a very level hike, walking along wetlands and through maritime forests and coastal zones, and going by several freshwater ponds that were put in for wildlife.  I saw many birds and land crabs, but no alligators - although a volunteer told me that a 13 foot gator lives in one of the ponds.  I did see a surprise animal on the hike back - a dragon!

The first pond I got to is Ibis Pond.  It has a fantastic amount of birds.  There are also alligators living in this green soup.  They discourage raccoons and opossums from crossing over to eat eggs and baby birds.  But they also require "protection money."  When a young heron or ibis falls in, they become a meal for the alligators.

Here are some of the white ibises and a young heron at this pond.

This refuge is only open to the public because of volunteers.  I talked to one of them.  Ten years ago, the US Fish and Wildlife Services did not have the resources to maintain the refuge to keep public access.  Nine local people volunteered to do work there, and this great area continues benefits humans as well as wildlife because of them.  Volunteer efforts created this butterfly garden at Ibis Pond.

This is a rare long leaf pine forest, once common throughout the Southeast.

Prescribed burning is used to keep the long leaf pine forests viable.  Their bark can protect the tree from fast-burning forest fires.

A wood duck nest box stands in one of the wildlife ponds.

This is Nini Chapin Pond, which I walked around, and saw much wildlife, such as
  this pair of white ibis, and

this young tri-colored heron.  I also saw several purple gallinules and many green herons, but could not get a good photo.

Much of my hike went through coastal maritime forest,

where Spanish moss, always picturesque, was much in evidence

I also saw dozens of these little land crabs in the paths while walking to Bull Point.  They were an inch or two in size and skittered across the path like big beetles.

Here is the view at Bull Point across the Inter-Coastal Waterway.

I saw a number of shy birds while hiking along the shore of Starr Pond on the way back, like this young egret, and

this green heron.  I saw at least a dozen green herons on this hike, but they are a very shy bird and usually fly before one gets close to them.

Returning by Ibis Pond, I saw these adult white ibises high in a tree,

As I got closed to my car, I spotted this dragon along the marsh.  I think the species is a Rebel Barker.  It didn't spot me, and I was able to avoid becoming its breakfast!  I think it was sleeping because it never moved a muscle.  ;^)

To me, the perfect hike combines exercise, wildlife, and scenery.  I'd have to say - although the views in the Low Country can't match mountain scenery - that this hike meets those requirements really well.


  1. Thanks for sharing Art! Fun to imagine the landscape and critters you describe. ☺️

  2. That really does look like a dragon!! : )
    There isn't enough good words to say about volunteers. : ) Where would the world be without them!!

  3. Thanks, Dorothea - glad you liked it.

  4. I thought so too, Happy-K. I did a double-take!

    Yes, for sure. One of my goals post-retirement is to do a lot more volunteering. It helps the world go round, and combats some of the negatively that is out there.