Trying to Opt Out on Black Friday

Darien, GA – My folks and I attempted to Opt Out on this Black Friday by visiting the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge’s Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive. Unfortunately, when we got there it was closed due to today’s abnormally high tide causing the refuge’s diversion canal to overflow the roadway.  We decided to give Harris Neck NWR a try instead and by the time we got down there, the weather had turned into a windy, chilly mist. We walked down to Bluebill Pond and saw a large number of Snowy Egrets along with some Great Egrets and Little Blue Herons along with some Blue Winged Teal, but most everything was out of camera range. Most of the waterfowl seemed to be more interested in huddling out of the wind than anything else. Even though it was around 11:30 AM when we got to Woody Pond, there were still some Black Crowned and Yellow Crowned Night Herons perched around the pond, but unfortunately they were out of camera range as well.

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Harris Neck NWR’s Bluebill Pond on a chilly, misty, dreary Black Friday

By the time we finished at Woody Pond, the mist had turned into a light rain so we just cruised through the rest of the wildlife drive hoping to see something from the car, but both Greenhead and Goose Ponds were drained and we didn’t even see any turkeys or deer. It was still a better day than spending it inside a shopping mall…

After we left Harris Neck, we decided to find something for lunch and ended up at Skipper’s Fish Camp in Darien. All of us ended up trying the crab cakes and they were excellent – a simple pan-fried recipe without a lot of additives  (I got the combination of crab cakes and Mahi with baked potato and coleslaw and it was wonderful). After I ate, I went out in the rain on Skipper’s dock and took a few photos of the shrimp boats docked nearby. I think these black and white versions suit the day perfectly.

 

A Sunday Afternoon Visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

Savannah – It had been a few weeks since I had the chance to visit the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge; since yesterday afternoon’s weather was so beautiful, I took advantage of it and visited the refuge. Alligators were out sunning, the wading birds were out doing their thing, and there were even a few deer out and about (unfortunately, none that I could get a photo of). There was even an American Bittern sighting. The last time I visited in late September, there were a few Blue Wing Teal and what looked to be a couple of Ringneck Ducks already arrived for migratory waterfowl season, but on this visit, there were only a few American Coots to be seen. As far as other migratory birds go, Northern Harriers have made their arrival to the refuge as well. Most folks may love Spring and Summer, but I love Autumn and Winter when things cool down, the leaves begin to fall and the grass thins out making the wildlife easier to see, and the migratory birds arrive. It’s just about my favorite time of the year!

 

 

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visit; 27 September 2018

Savannah – I made my first visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in quite some time this morning. My parents hadn’t had the opportunity to visit recently either, so they came along as well. The tide was coming up, rapidly so in the diversion canal, so there weren’t a lot of Alligators to be seen, but it turned out to be a great bird day. Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, White and Glossy Ibis, and Cattle Egrets were numerous. We also saw a solitary Wood Stork. In a surprise given the still Summer-like temperatures, we saw some Blue Winged Teal. It may not feel like Autumn yet, but it’s good to some of the migratory waterfowl beginning to show up!

 

 

 

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.

Things are Turning Green Again – Spring Visits to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

Savannah – I’ve made a couple of visits to the Savannah NWR recently and it’s obvious that Spring is here; things are turning green again. With the exception of Coots and a handful of Blue Winged Teal and Northern Shovelers, the migratory ducks have left. The egrets and herons are in their breeding plumage. The alligators and turtles are out sunning in larger numbers.

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Glossy Ibis at the Savannah NWR
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Great Blue Heron at the Savannah NWR
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Snowy Egret at the Savannah NWR
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Alligator sunning at the Savannah NWR
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Young Alligators sunning at the Savannah NWR
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The Savannah NWR is also a good spot for watching iron birds