Yesterday was a wonderful early winter day for a visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. The temperature was in the mid-40s and the skies were clearing; the wind was a up a bit but that didn’t seem to be causing any issues. Since the temperatures have been cooling, I thought it might be a good day to take my first trail walk in awhile since the alligators wouldn’t be as active (I’ve had several too close for comfort run-ins with large alligators on the trails in warmer weather).
Yesterday’s visit coincided with low tide and I stopped by one of the rice trunks where there are several good spots for catching wading birds at low tide. I wasn’t disappointed, finding a Great Blue Heron, a Snowy Egret, and a White Ibis along the canal banks.
Stopping to walk the Raccoon Island trail was well worth the time. The skills I learned hunting serve me well behind the lens of a camera just as they did behind iron sights or a scope. I was able to get within fairly close distance of a Whitetail doe twice as it was feeding along the canal bank. Both sides of the trail were full of Blue Winged Teal and Ring Necked Ducks; the Savannah River side of the trail was absolutely packed with them. I also saw some Mallards and Northern Shovelers, but none of them were within camera range. When I walked out of the woods on one of the hammocks along the trail, masses of Blue Winged Teal and Ring Necked Ducks took flight. I never hunted ducks, but I would think it was a sight that duck hunters would have loved to see.
After finishing on the trail, the rest of the wildlife drive didn’t disappoint either. During the slow drive along the diversion canal, I saw a Sora for the first time in the flooded area on the other side of the road from the canal. It blended in with its surrounding so well that I would have never noticed it except for its bright yellow beak. The yellow caught my attention and I used the camera to zoom in to see what it was and noticed the rest of the bird. It wasn’t until I got home and consulted the Stokes bird book that I knew what it was. Pied Billed Grebes were along both sides of the drive; I took a photo of one out of the window, if I would have tied to get out of the car it would have surely taken a dive. I saw the only three Alligators of the whole visit along this part of the drive as well; all three were on the opposite side of the drive as the canal.
Yesterday was easily the best visit I’ve had to a refuge in months. The weather was almost perfect and there was a great variety of wildlife out. Winter is my favorite time of year and I’m looking forward to more visits like this over the next few months!