Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sapsucker Surprise at ACE Basin Refuge!

A sunny and mild winter day at the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in the ACE Basin (Green Pond, S.C.) would deliver a Sunday sapsucker surprise.

Like the other state Department of Natural Resources WMA near the South Carolina coast, Donnelley is vast, comprised of thousands of acres of protected property that can be driven or walked (or both) for a quick visit or all day excursion.

A feature unique to the Donnelley WMA is the old, abandoned Boynton House located three or four miles into the refuge from its entrance off Highway 17.

The house is in very rough shape and caution is needed when looking around it.

Check out this amusing piece written about the Boynton House saying it may be cursed!

We found a safe way to enter the house from around back.

Another inside view. Note the missing floor section (bottom right).

Outside the house is an open storage area with some old farm equipment. Crops used to be cultivated nearby and I read somewhere that the Boynton family had cattle too.

Closeup of one of the old equipment pieces.

Back in the house, we were alerted to a banging sound in the kitchen. It was this beautiful Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that was trying to get outside.

It was banging against a window and started to freak out seeing us come in. We were trying to figure out how we can help it, when the bird finally flew out the broken window just below it.  So a happy ending. What a relief!

I really like how you can see the sapsucker's yellow belly in this photo.

Here's a short video I took off the bird flying into the glass. 

 Water is abundant at Donnelley, much of it being former rice fields where slaves would toil and their masters would harvest vast riches, making Charleston the wealthiest American city during the colonial era. 
We would see a number of other birds on this outing.
Ring-necked Duck (front) and a pair of American Coots
Male Ring-necked Duck and a female to his left

Ducks (above) showing their underwater feeding techniques. That's a Northern Shoveler in the front with the green head and massive black bill. And in the back right is a female Gadwall- a lifer bird for me! Thanks to the birders at's bird identification forum for the help with this photo! 
Green-winged Teals- male center and right and a female 

A juvenile Little Blue Heron 

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Snowy Egret

Tri-colored Heron and close up below

Red-tailed Hawk

Last but not least! A Bald Eagle.

Not a road or path but red-covered water- looks like you could walk on it! 

A fond farewell for now from South Carolina's wonderful ACE Basin!  
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