Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 Tornado Rips Into Barnwell State Park

Twisted Pine Tree with State Park Sign
The weekend of January 21 - 22 brought a rare outbreak of severe weather to South Carolina, and I found evidence of the tornado that strafed Barnwell County Park. This state park is located in rural Barnwell County and is near the town of Blackville, and is known for hiking trails and woodland aesthetics. The National Weather Service has confirmed this was an EF-2 tornado that touched down, and while the track of the twister extended into nearby Denmark, the most damage was at the state park.

Roadside trees snapped off and strewn with debris
The National Weather Service (NWS) briefing to media that weekend included several noteworthy remarks including that there was a high-risk of significant severe weather - and high risk warnings are when long-track strong tornadoes can occur, and also when most fatalities occur. "A high risk is very rare for our area, ANY TIME OF YEAR, it is exceedingly rare and essentially unheard of for late January." The area of SE Georgia was hit harder during this weekend, causing loss of life, and S.C. likely just received a glancing blow, but it could be seen as another sign of increased uncertainty in weather patterns that can affect the Lowcountry in the future.

To view past blog entries about weather click 2016 Hurricane Matthew - 2015 Flooding -  2014 Ice Storm Story - 2014 Ice Storm Photos - 2014 Drought - 2013 Wet Weather2012 T.S. Alberto - 2012 Storm Team 2 - 2011 Drought - 2009 Drought

I saw trees down everywhere at the park
To view past blog entries about S.C. State Parks click on Hickory Knob State ParkEdisto Beach - Huntington Beach - Myrtle Beach - Hampton Plantation

To view past blog Field Notes click January 2017December 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   

A few power line poles were snapped off too

This pine tree appears twisted before toppling

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Naturalist Lecture with Rudy Mancke Revealing

Rudy Mancke and aspiring naturalist on 1/16/2017
Sometimes wildlife sightings dwindle down to a trickle, making hunters and naturalists alike wonder if they should rather pursue a different hobby. It’s a little like a pro athlete that shares they don’t force the action during a game, rather they let the game come to them. Last week will be remembered as a great one since I took in a lecture from SCETV’s Rudy Mancke, and then took a friend hunting to shoot his first ever Canada goose.

Sometimes heading indoors is a good way to learn about the outdoors, and I headed to the Charleston Museum (founded in 1773) on Jan. 16 in order to listen to naturalist Rudy Mancke speak. Mancke addressed the Charleston Botanical Society about the heyday of naturalists in S.C., which he reports was in the 1700’s and 1800’s. “I missed it,” said Mancke. “When Europeans came to the New World it exposed them to a biodiversity in the Southeast that did not exist where they came from. A modern day similar example might be if I led a group to discover the jungle in Costa Rica.”

Todd Baxley with his first ever goose harvest on 1/19/2017
Joined by friends Julian Clark and Todd Baxley for a Canada goose hunt, we felt lots of anticipation while waiting to see if the geese would decoy to our position. At the end of the hunt, Baxley would celebrate his first ever Canada goose harvest with a visit to the taxidermist. A successful hunt with friends is a great way to reinforce our hunting heritage, and gives us something to savor until next year. This naturalist is sometimes drawn to harvest game birds, but I sure you that I also marvel at them too, and always practice being an ethical outdoorsman.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Field Notes and Photos - January 2017

African Land Tortoise visits the Lowcountry!
Field Notes is a column I began fourteen years ago in the Charleston Mercury newspaper, but as the amount of newsprint space in the 'salmon sheets' has diminished, so has the space for my nature photography. Now when I have a fresh batch of observations I share them via Lowcountry Outdoors. 

To view past blog Field Notes click December 2016June 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  

Beautiful Mushroom
Watchful Winter Hawk

Carolina Wren and white-breasted nuthatch

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pheasant Tower Shoot Comes to Colleton County

Dr. Richard Fitzgerald and I with our pheasants.
Our afternoon hunt began with a blessing and a barbecue lunch under the shade of a barn. A thorough safety talk was delivered by Blue Field’s  father and son duo, Parker Tuten and Will Tuten. Their family farm is already diversified with agricultural practices, growing livestock, timber sales and a longtime deer hunting club. Will Tuten came up with the idea to start a pheasant tower facility, and chose a piece of woodlands to log and clear, thus creating the hunt area from scratch. It’s been in the works for some time, with some hot summertime hours put in, culminating with building his custom tower in October.

Parker Tuten and Will Tuten giving the safety talk before the shoot
New Tower at Blue Field in Action.
Like the best wingshooting hunts, a pheasant tower shoot allows for lots of camaraderie before, during and after the hunt. This is a group hunt, and it takes a team of hunters coming together at one time, or else you simply won’t have enough guns. There are twelve blinds at Blue Field and each blind holds two shooters, with the blinds spaced apart by a gunshot length. It’s up to each blind to decide if they want to take turns shooting, or if they just want to shoot what comes to their side of the blind. Either way, one must stay ready because no one knows what the pheasants will do.

You can view the entire field from your blind, so it is easy to see the pheasants no matter which direction they take. We recorded some missed shots during our hunt, but we weren’t the only ones, and seeing everyone hit or miss their pheasants adds to the fun. When rotating between blinds, the dogs scurry around picking up dead and wounded pheasants. The dog handlers are not shooting, rather they are wanting to participate in order to witness the hunt, and work their canines. Robbie Hooker and his boykin spaniel did an especially good job from what I could see, and I thanked him for their help.

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

To view past blog entries about Pheasant Tower Shoots click Spring Bank Plantation (Georgia) - Meadow Wood (North Carolina) - Clinton House (South Carolina)
Our entire hunt group with pheasants after the shoot.