Yesterday I spent the late morning wandering around the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge’s Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, not only driving along the road but getting out and walking down some of the trails. I got there just after 0900 and it was still foggy in places but it began to burn off quickly. Coming back from my first trail walk, one of the USFWS Wildlife Officers was patrolling through the NWR in a very sharp looking Ford SVT Raptor. If I was a poacher I might think twice about running from this one. Fellow radio hobbyists will notice the VHF and 800 MHz antennas on the roof, that would indicate that in addition to the VHF repeaters in use by USFWS the officers also have access to the Palmett0 800 system (and maybe the SEGARRN – some of the refuge is in Georgia).
My first walk was down the road/trail atop a dike between two canals just before the first curve on the Laurel Hill Drive. I’ve been trying for years to take a good photo of a Red Winged Blackbird with its red flashes showing but the birds have either not shown the flash or not stayed in place long enough to get a photo; yesterday my patience was rewarded. Another one of my walks, down the Plantation Island trail, yielded my favorite photo of the day – a large alligator with two small young alligators out sunning. It’s the first time I’ve seen (what I assume to be) a mother alligator with her young!
Though many were out of the range of my lens, there were a lot of Northern Shovelers and Blue Winged Teal at the refuge along with the usual massive complement of Coots and Moorhen. I enjoyed watching a pair of Shovelers feed and then seemingly “dance” around each other, bobbing their heads up and down in unison. I also watched a group of four Blue Winged Teal feeding close to the road, surprised that they didn’t take off in my presence.
The morning low yesterday was in the 30’s, so I was very surprised to see as many turtles and alligators as I did. Including the three above, I saw ten yesterday, some of them in the water which was even more of a surprise. I thought the water temperature would be too cold for that.
Finally, I took this photo of a small bird yesterday and I have no idea what type of bird it is. If anyone can identify it, please leave a comment below, it would be much appreciated!