Beyond our Backyard-Santee Coastal WMA

Saturday, February 12, 2022 — 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Birding at Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area (WMA) at 220 Santee Gun Club Road, McClellanville, SC 29458 (33.14787465209334, -79.3962914942397)
Location: Meet at Seabrook Island Real Estate to carpool at 5:45 am
Meet at Sewee Outpost at 4853 Hwy 17, Awendaw, SC (32.928946768826464, -79.71288155767162) to buy breakfast, lunch and to use restrooms before preceding to the Reserve
Dinner option after birding: Seewee Restaurant, 4808 N Hwy 17, Awendaw, SC 29424 (32.926736397768416, -79.71480264232838)
Max: 16 for the morning half-day portion // 8 for the whole-day afternoon option
Cost: Free for members; $5 donation for guests

Join SIB to bird at Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a 24,000 acre tract, operated by the SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), rich in different habitats including long-leaf pine, bottomland swamp, upland hardwoods and former rice impoundments. The area was originally inhabited by the Sewee and the Winyah tribes. Then, several rice plantations were established here in the 1700s. Today, you can still see the brick ruins of the Eldorado plantation house on a hike through the upland hardwoods. In 1898, Captain Hugh Garden established the Santee Gun Club upon his acquisition of these rice plantations. Finally in 1974, the Santee Gun Club donated the property to TNC who then transferred most of it to the state of SC for management by DNR.
Of course, a variety of habitats translates to a variety of birdlife. On this trip, we will focus our efforts on 2 habitats primarily. First, in the morning, we will bird the long-leaf pine forest to find the federally-listed endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) and, hopefully, Northern Bobwhite and then, in the afternoon, we will bird the impoundments to observe multiple duck species.
The long entrance road runs through the middle of the long-leaf pine forest in which we will find the RCWs. Our birding here will be roadside. In addition to the RCWs, we will listen for owls and Northern Bobwhite. Other species of at this time of year to see are the Blue-headed vireo, Brown-headed Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, raptors, Pine Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, and possibly all of the other 7 species of woodpecker in SC. Other possibilities include Yellow-throated Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Fox Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing, House Wren, Sedge Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, if we are lucky.
In the afternoon, we will hike the Cape Trail to arrive at the impoundments where we will observe many species of duck. The impoundments in this area are closed to the public from November 1 to February 9 every year. Just after these areas reopen, the waterfowl begin to fly north to their nesting grounds. Thus, we are taking advantage of this narrow window of opportunity to see many species. Be prepared to hike about 4-5 miles. Since these ducks are very flighty, we need to keep a small group size for the afternoon portion. We will approach the impoundments stealthily, keeping our profiles low and speaking in hushed tones, in order to see the ducks before they flush. Likely species include Blue- and Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon (and possibly Eurasian Wigeon), Mottled Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, and Hooded Merganser species. Some other possibilities include Redhead, Canvasback and American Black Duck as well as Snow Goose. In the Big Well impoundment area (an area open year-round), a large group of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks have over-wintered and we expect to see them. In all of the impoundments, we will see a large number of waders including Egrets, Herons, Ibis, and maybe American Bittern. Several different species of shorebirds and rails such as Clapper Rail, Sora, Black-bellied plover, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher and American Avocet inhabit the impoundments in the winter.
For the end of our day, for those interested, we plan to make a dinner stop at the Sewee Restaurant for a Lowcountry dinner.
As always, be sure to bring your binoculars/cameras, hats, sunscreen and bug spray. If you have a scope, you should definitely bring it for the afternoon hike to the impoundments. Bring plenty to drink and a picnic lunch to eat on the property and money for your dinner if you decide to take that option. There are no facilities on the property so be prepared for that. We ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance if they are not vaccinated. Please do not use someone else’s scope without their permission.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please complete the information below to register no later than February 10th. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on the February 11th, the day prior to the trip. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

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