I just returned Monday from spending the month of June in South Carolina with my kids and grandkids. We went to Hunting Island State Park that is south of Charleston and was informed of a small park in the middle of a neighborhood of Port Royal. It was simply called Cypress Wetland and it was amazing!!! They had recently built a boardwalk through the park and right next to the trees containing a diverse rookery. And, several alligators were also spotted right below and around it.
The White Ibis was the most abundant species and there were dozens of them. And I got to see my first Anhingas!! Other species included Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Common Moorhen, Black-crowned Night Heron, and a Yellow-crowned Night Heron (seen nearby in salt marsh).
I went there early in the morning of June 25th and that was very cool but when I took my family back in late evening…wow, what a show!!! The light was now at our backs on the boardwalk and the returning flight of dozens of birds was outstanding!! I have never witnessed such a spectacle….birds slip-sliding the way Snow Geese do…I also watched a couple kind of run with their feet as they descended. As they circled around before landing they were so graceful and spectacular. My son had his new camera there and took numerous pictures. He is just getting used to it and I created a Flickr account so I could share some of the photos.
I just wish they could convey how awesome it was to stand on the boardwalk for over an hour watching them return or bring nesting material or just fight with each other!! The Common Moorhen had her nest directly under the side of the boardwalk. As we watch the Ibises, etc… we heard quite a commotion near the nest. When we returned to view it the eggs were visible and the parents were quite upset but we couldn’t see them. Finally, we spotted a water snake nearby and they were driving it away.
At Hunting Island SP, we were able to see nesting Wood Storks. I extremely enjoyed watching them soar overhead as they cruised above the treetops of the swamp. Black Vultures and Laughing Gulls were very common around the area also.
The Wild Turkey and Carolina Wren are the state birds of South Carolina. We only saw one small flock of turkeys during the whole month. Carolina Wrens were everywhere. But, if I was going to pick the most prominent bird for their state bird it would have to be the N. Mockingbird!! They were everywhere, calling constantly, day and NIGHT!!
All in all, it was a great trip and I have just mentioned the Cypress Wetland primarily but I spent much time observing and studying the different and diverse aspects of nature compared to the Midwest. If anyone heads that direction in late May through early July, the area is definitely worth your time!!
Terry L. Miller
Kearney High School
Ecology/College Zoology/Genetics/Botany/Astronomy Teacher
"It is the inherent dignity of every human person that we must strive to respect, to inspire, and to believe in....and what a great responsibility we have as teachers and role models!"
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ASM Fall Meeting: September 26-28, 2014 at Lake of the Ozarks State Park Details and Online Registration