Saturday, March 3, 2012

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

Our quick holiday trip to Savannah ended with a first time visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. American Coots (above) were plentiful on that cold January afternoon.
The Savannah NWR, dating  to 1927, consists of over 29,000 acres of freshwater marshes, tidal rivers and creeks and bottomland hardwoods (from the site's official website).
The vast acreage includes indications of the old rice cultivation system from past centuries with many wooden trunks used to control water flow into and out of  the numerous impoundments. Informative signage provides visitors with an educational experience.
I only had a quick glimpse of the female Buffleheads (below), a duck I had never photographed before.  They remind me of the Hooded Mergansers I see during the winter at Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery.
Blue-winged Teals (below) also traveled South for the winter.
The male Blue-winged Teal has the distinctive white marking on his face.
White Ibis were around in numbers. There's no mistaking this one-of-a-kind wading bird.
The Savannah Refuge, while close to a major highway, extends far enough away from the road to ensure the quiet of nature.
The dark Glossy Ibis mingled with White Ibis in this spot.
This was my first Glossy Ibis sighting- always exciting to "discover" new birds! It was hard to get good close shots amid the sea grass.
I came across a lone Great Blue Heron towards the end of our tour.  Such a striking bird, no matter where I encounter them.
I walked behind the Great Blue in hopes of getting a shot like this with its wings extended.
A Red-shouldered Hawk on alert for a meal below.
I didn't see too many smaller birds on this outing, other than this Northern Mockingbird, which didn't seem to mind posing a few minutes for me.
The Mockingbird seems to be a flexible, adaptable bird, from backyards to vast nature preserves.
By far the American Coots were the most frequent fowl at the Savannah site during this winter visit.
I would definitely like to come back to this refuge and am glad it's close enough for a spring or summer day trip. Here's a link to this national refuge's website: