Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hunting Island State Park Reopens May 26

Hunting Island Fishing Pier from May 16, 2017
The impacts from Hurricane Matthew affected the coastal plain of the Lowcountry in numerous ways, including beach erosion from Tybee Island to Edisto Island. The Memorial Day holiday brings good news for those with longstanding traditions of visiting the pristine beaches at Hunting Island Sate Park, which is set to reopen after seven months of deliberations and repairs. My visit to the Hunting Island State Park nature center and fishing pier on May 16 revealed that the facilities and staff are ready to welcome visitors once again.
T-shirt sales benefit hurricane recovery efforts
To reach Hunting Island State Park requires a trek down Highway 21 deep into Beaufort County, passing through Lady’s Island, St. Helena Island, and Harbor Island. The entrances to the campground area and the lighthouse grounds were still blocked by large signs stating that these park areas were still closed. The Nature Center is at the southern tip of the state park, and the fishing pier extends into the Harbor River, and looks out towards Fripp Island.

I was surprised to see that the wooden pier is still in disrepair and is closed to the public about halfway down. The pier may not be fully repaired yet, but it appears that ospreys are building a nest on the end of the pier, so the natural world is adapting to the changes. Hunting Island State Park is a 5,000-acre barrier island and maritime forest, and it saw significant damage from Hurricane Matthew. The state estimates property damages around $5 million and revenue losses from being closed of $2 million.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about S.C. State Parks click Barnwell - Hickory Knob - Huntington Beach - Hampton Plantation - Edisto Beach 
Their nature enter is top notch!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wetland Night Sounds at Donnelly WMA

Tony Mills show the underbelly of a Mud Snake
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources held an event on May 9 for folks interested in visiting Donnelly WMA for a wagon ride through both forest and wetlands in search of the sounds and scenes found only as dusk grips the Lowcountry. Veteran SCDNR employee Al Segars met participants at 5 p.m. at the game check station on Donnelly WMA and signed them in for this program, a part of the Coastal Exploration Series. Sitting on picnic tables under the shade of a grand live oak surrounded by freshly planted dove fields, it was exciting to think about all manner of wildlife that we might soon be viewing.

Baby Box turtles - so cute!!
Tony Mills is a herpetologist with the Lowcountry Institute at Spring Island and he was in charge of the one-hour grass class about wildlife found at Donnelly WMA. Some people know Mills from the TV show on ETV called Coastal Kingdom. Mills experience is extensive having served 20 years UGA’s Savannah River Ecology Lab, and his outgoing nature comes in handy when teaching Master Naturalist courses each year.

Young and old came to listen and learn in the outdoors
SCDNR’s Nick Wallover was riding with participants and gave a narration as the wagon rolled through the woodlands. We saw white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and feral hogs as the daylight dimmed. Just then someone saw the first firefly of the evening and soon the entire forest was lit up with these frolicking flies, blinking intermittently. “One certain occasions we have seen the fireflies display mating behavior and they all link up and flash on and off at the same time,” said Wallover. I had never even heard of such behavior and hope to see that in person one day.

To view the entire feature story in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about Donnelly WMA click on Trails of Colleton County - Deer Draw Hunt

To view past blog entries about the ACE Basin click on 25th Anniversary

Wading Bird Paradise at Dusk
To view past blog entries on snakes click on Edisto SerpentariumSeptember Snakes Seen Slithering - Duck Season Snakes -  2014 Snakes at SEWE - 2016 SEWE

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Barns, Barbecue, and Bales of Cotton - Book Review

Editor Kirby Player visits the Lowcountry
All regions of the Palmetto State share ties to early economic roots associated with agriculture. Some choose to hold on to and embrace this rural heritage despite the trends of modernization that are shaping today’s economy. A unique partnership between Clemson University and the S.C. Farm Bureau has produced a coffee table book that celebrates iconic barns, the products derived from local agriculture practices, and how slow cooked barbecue is a cornerstone of the rural lifestyle.
The book titled Barns, Barbecue, and Bales of Cotton has multiple contributors both for the text and the photos. Kirby Player is the book’s editor, and is in charge of the student relations and recruitment at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson. Player is a farm boy raised in Lee County, watching row crops stretch from treeline to treeline each and every year from planting time until harvest. He attended Clemson University and graduated in 1983, and after a short stint in the private sector, he has been working at Clemson’s Ag School for the past 25 years.

“Photographs were accepted from the public for nearly a year and a half for this book,” said Player. “We also sought images from the South Carolina office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.” The photos that appear in the book convey a pictorial history of rural South Carolina that will leaver older readers reminiscing, while raising awareness with younger readers about possible agricultural career paths. One mission of this book is to protect the rural past, but to also promote the rural future.

To view the entire feature story in the newspaper click Colletonian.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2017 Bird Count - Baltimore Orioles Wintering in S.C.

Baltimore orioles historically winter in South America and Central America, but with climate change they have begun using South Carolina as a wintering ground. The 2017 Bird Count data recorded the highest number of Baltimore orioles ever to winter in South Carolina, just over 300 birds! Baltimore orioles are neotropical migratory birds, and they have a proclivity to eat grape jelly from specialty feeders. For more detailed information click on Great Backyard Bird Count.

To view the latest Birding Journal Observations click March / April 2017 

Friday, May 5, 2017

2017 Tornado Affects Western Colleton County

Rural farmhouse near I-95 with trees down,
 roof impacted, but otherwise OK
Three new power poles in place after storm winds blew
On Thursday May 4 at around 7 p.m. a severe line of storms approached the southern Lowcountry of South Carolina. A tornado warning was issued, and the same system spawned damage earlier in the Garden City area of Georgia, just South of Savannah. The storm cell raced up the western edge of I-95 and produced winds strong enough to snap pine trees, blow down power line poles, and otherwise cause havoc in a mostly rural area. Power outages were not widespread, as the path of the intense cell was not very wide, but unusual damage occurred in several places not far from the interstate. The National Weather Service confirmed on May 5 that this was an EF-1 tornado, and that it also touched down in Holly Hill.

Local farmers report many cow pasture fences down, and they are either moving cows into secure pastures, or cutting up large pine trees today in order to effect repairs. With between 1.5 and 2-5-inches of rain recorded in the area, farmers are also reporting that some equipment is stranded in the fields for now. After all, planting season is still underway!

To view past blog entries about weather click 2017 Barnwell Tornado2016 Hurricane Matthew - 2015 Flooding -  2014 Ice Storm Story - 2014 Ice Storm Photos - 2014 Drought - 2013 Wet Weather - 2012 T.S. Alberto - 2012 Storm Team 2 - 2011 Drought - 2009 Drought

To view past blog entries about S.C. State Parks click on Hickory Knob State Park - Edisto Beach - Huntington Beach - Myrtle Beach - Hampton Plantation

To view past blog Field Notes click January 2017 - December 2016 - June 2016 - February 2016December 2015 - October 2015 - September 2015 - August 2015 - July 2015 - June 2015 - February 2105 - October 2014  September 2014 - August 2014 - June 2014 - March 2012 - February 2012 - October 2011 - September 2011

Small grove of snapped pine trees on Cane Branch Road

Large pines and debris in field