Springtime at the Savannah and Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuges

Savannah – Over the last few days, I made two visits to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and a visit to the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. With Spring’s arrival, almost all of the migratory waterfowl have left, leaving just a few Coots who haven’t made the decision to go north yet. There are still plenty of birds to watch, as the permanent residents such as egrets and herons haven’t gone anywhere and this season’s visitors such as Wood Storks have begun to arrive in numbers.

On Friday afternoon, I visited the Savannah NWR at low tide. Most of the birds I saw were out of good photo range, but I got a few Alligator photos; with the warmer weather, more and bigger Alligators are out sunning, especially along the banks of the Refuge’s diversion canal (which right now, after damage to the canal system from Hurrican Irma, is more like a tidal creek). I saw twelve Black Bellied Whistling Ducks in two groups of six. I also saw a lot of Tri Colored Herons; it seems there are more of them around the Savannah NWR this year than the last couple of years.

On Saturday morning, I visited the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in quite awhile. There were plenty of alligators, mostly young ones out enjoying the morning sunshine and Wood Storks, Great Egrets, Tri Colored Herons, and Anhingas were beginning to take their nesting places in the rookery; you could even see a few recently hatched young in nests closer to the viewing area. It was fun to stand on the dike at Woody Pond and watch the storks, egrets, and herons flying back and forth between the rookery and feeding areas. Note:  I was not close enough to disturb the nesting birds; I used a 500mm zoom lens to photograph the nesting birds.

On Saturday afternoon, I visited the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge again, this time as the tide was going out. Alligators were taking their places along the banks of the diversion canal as the outgoing tied exposed good places to lie and wading birds like Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets were out stalking for a meal. A male Red Winged Blackbird also stayed put on a nearby twig long enough to get a good photo of him; usually, they fly off before I can get a chance to get the lens on them. The Black Bellied Whistling Ducks were out again, but once again just out of range for good photographs. I kept an eye out for Purple Gallinules because it’s almost time for them to start showing up, but all I saw were Common Gallinules.

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