The last week wasn’t a good one, and I needed to get away from the world and recharge the batteries so on Friday I spent a few hours at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. I got a late start and didn’t make it to the refuge until after 1000, but it turned out that my tardiness was a benefit. It meant that it was my first low tide visit in quite awhile. Autumn is in full swing, so the green grasses are rapidly turning brown, the leaves are turning color and falling from the trees, and migratory waterfowl are beginning to arrive; I saw a male Blue Winged Teal (usually some of the first to arrive in Autumn and last to leave in Spring) but he wasn’t close enough for a good photo.
Except for a lot of Red Winged Blackbirds among the tall grass that is rapidly browning, there wasn’t much to see until I got to the first rice trunk. While there I got to watch a Snowy Egret, a Great Blue Heron, and a White Ibis taking advantage of the low tide to fish and search for food. There are also a fair number of immature Little Blue Herons at the refuge and they look similar to Snowy Egrets in color and size, but even from a distance they’re easily distinguished by their legs. Snowy Egrets have black legs with yellow feet while immature Little Blue Herons have yellowish-green legs and feet.
Farther down the wildlife drive, I came across a Great Egret that was doing the same thing – looking for a meal. It was working the edges of the area that the refuge recently flooded for the migratory waterfowl. It wasn’t far from this area where I saw the Blue Winged Teal; I had to pull out the binoculars to ID it, but the black head with white spot was unmistakable.
Most of the Alligators I saw were along the portion of the wildlife drive that parallels the diversion canal. I only saw 11 on this visit, but unlike previous visits, most all of them were large alligators. Most of them were taking advantage of the beautiful clear day and slightly higher than normal temperatures to take in the sun on the canal banks. The Alligator sightings were broken up by a Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron sharing a stump left high and dry in one of the canals across from the diversion canal.
It was a very good visit, one of the best I’ve had to the refuge in the last few months. As the temperatures fall lower and it gets deeper into Autumn, they’ll only get better… Autumn and Winter are my favorite times of the year to visit the Savannah NWR!