A Visit to the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area

This morning, I traveled up to Green Pond, SC to visit the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area’s wildlife drive. Located within the ACE Basin, it’s an approximately 75-mile drive from Savannah and is between US 21 and Charleston on US 17 in Colleton County. The Donnelley WMA is a wonderful combination of wetland and upland habitat, for those familiar with the Savannah NWR and the Harris Neck NWR, it’s like a blend of those two. It’s a terrific mix of habitats. As far as birds go, I saw some Blue Winged Teal, Grebes, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, Bluebirds, Red Winged Blackbirds, and more. There are plenty of alligators and turtles in the wetland areas. I saw two groups of turkeys that had to total between 25 and 30 birds; the first group was easily 15 or more birds and the second group was at least 10 birds. Additionally, there were a lot of signs of squirrels (even though I didn’t see any) and it appears to be great deer habitat as well (I didn’t see any deer either). The driving tour through the WMA is 11 miles long and winds through both fresh and brackish water wetlands including managed rice fields like those at the Savannah NWR, pine forests, and mixed pine/hardwood forests as well as some agricultural land. Depending upon your speed and how much you get out to walk around and/or observe, the driving tour could last an hour or so, or all day; it took me 3 hours and I could have easily taken longer. Photo conditions weren’t too great because of the overcast, but here’s some of what I saw:

 

Alligator in a stream through the woods at the Donnelley WMA

 

Turkeys on the move through the woods at the Donnelley WMA

 

Snowy Egrets and immature White Ibis feeding along the water’s edge at the Donnelley WMA

 

One of the Snowy Egrets displaying after a squabble with the other Snowy Egret in the previous photo

 

Young alligator at the Donnelley WMA

 

Snowy Egret at the Donnelley WMA

 

A tree full of Cormorants at the Donnelley WMA

 

Alligator in the road at the Donnelley WMA

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Donnelley WMA and plan on making a longer visit there in the future. Not only is there a long wildlife drive, there are plenty of places to get out and walk and observe on foot. A word of warning – if you don’t like getting your car dirty, this may not be the place for you. There were plenty of wet and muddy spots, but nothing you’d have to worry about getting stuck in. The roads are all dirt but well maintained. There’s so much variety at the Donnelley WMA that it’s well worth the drive from Savannah.

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