Yesterday I went out to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and in addition to taking the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive I walked a number of the trails, including the Tupelo Trail on the other side of the highway from Laurel Hill. It was a beautiful morning for spending a few hours on the trails. I didn’t see quite the number of Teal and Shovelers that I saw the last few times but I did see a lot Anhingas. I also saw a bird I’d never seen before – a Pied Billed Grebe and enjoyed watching it dive to feed for awhile. With the warmer temperatures over the last few days I expected to see more than ten alligators but the water levels in many areas were high and it covered some of the spots where you can usually see them out sunning.
The Pied Billed Grebe and the Little Blue Heron weren’t very far from each other and I hung around and watched them feed for awhile. The Pied Billed Grebe would dive down (and stay down for longer than I expected) then pop back up a few feet away. It was hard to tell whether it was having any success or not. The Little Blue Heron was hunting/stalking and it obviously was having some success.
The speed limit through the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive is 20 mph and it never ceases to amaze me how many visitors roll through at 20 mph. Many of them are casually looking for alligators (as if there is nothing else to see at Savannah NWR) and by rolling through at 20 mph they miss so many things such as the partially hidden alligators and the Pied Billed Grebe. I guess it’s a lack of patience or short attention span, but why come out to the refuge if you’re not going to make a better attempt to see what all there is to see?
What I call the “turtle hole” is a small pond on the left side of the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive around mile marker 3.5 just behind a stand of trees. This pond almost always has turtles out sunning on logs and it isn’t unusual to also see small or juvenile alligators in the pond as well. Occasionally you may also see larger alligators around; once before I almost stumbled upon a quite large one hidden behind the grass at the road’s edge.