A full day birding trip with several miles of hiking through several miles of open mature longleaf pine forest, as well as driving to managed wetlands.
Santee Coastal Reserve is a wildlife management area in coastal South Carolina focused on managing wetland habitats for many high priority conservation species in the southeastern United States. This full day birding trip will begin at the entrance and go through several miles of open mature longleaf pine forests where we would expect all the mature pine species to occur: Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler and Bachman’s Sparrow (present but difficult to locate in fall), and in the understory, Northern Bobwhite, Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo and Painted Buntings.
As we leave the pine forest and proceed through the hardwood areas, fall migrants such as thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, and warblers could be plentiful. This part of the tour will be driving and stopping at various points, and we will drive to the Big Well area, an area of 5 managed wetlands along the South Santee River that is specifically managed for shorebirds. There will be a short hike here to find the unit that has the most activity. Over 20 species of shorebirds have been recorded here in the past with rarities such as Ruff, Hudsonian Godwit, and Wilson’s Phalarope., and this is a great place for Barn Owl. After this we will hike approximately 1.5 miles through woodlands and wetlands that are managed for waterfowl. Waterfowl will begin showing up in early September, and all the wading birds to be found in coastal South Carolina will be found here, including South Carolina’s new resident wading bird, Roseate Spoonbill. The entire area is 24,000 acres, and we will only be able to cover a part of this birding paradise. One can easily expect to observe approximately 80 species here in one day, and more if conditions are right.
Be prepared to fend off biting insects, they are unpredictable. Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and insect repellents usually work well here. Deer archery season is open during this trip, and we will be required to wear blaze orange vests (provided by Ventures).