Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hankering to Hike? Check Out Dungannon!

The entrance is easy to miss if you drive by too quickly! 
This is a remote place not too far south of Charleston that is perfect if you hanker to hike.

This website gives a bit of information about the Dungannon Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area. It is located off Highway 162 between Rantowles and Hollywood.



Coming from Charleston look for the entrance and this sign on the right (and pictured right) about five minutes after getting on 162 from Highway 17.

Wood Stork empty nesters
Looking at that website belonging to SCGreatOutdoors.com, I was surprised (and pleased!) to see a link to a video I produced about Dungannon way back in 2009.

The Wood Stork rookery that I feature in the video is, unfortunately, closed to the public.

It is about a 2.5 mile trek to reach the boardwalk. It extends over a marsh with cypress and tupelo trees that for years has been the springtime homes to the large wading birds as they nest and repopulate their once threatened and endangered numbers.

Glad to see you all too! 

I call this the Unwelcoming Committee! Dungannon's main blue trail takes you near several homesites. These howling hound dogs at least let you know you're going the right away if you prefer staying on the main trail versus some of the preserves smaller ones that intersect the nearly 700 acres.

Thank goodness this fence is high and strong!

Note the hunting platform at the top!  
Dungannon is very flat, like the rest of South Carolina's Lowcountry (that's why it's called that, of course). So it's easy exercise, not overly taxing or strenuous.

But of course the weather can change that. On this early March day, the temperature, in the low 60s, was ideal and skies were clear.

I have been to this preserve a number of times, including on very hot and buggy days in the summer.

Looking to sweat off some pounds (and swat off some "no see um" but feel them bugs), then an hour or three out here will do the trick.




Photographed this on the way back to the car
As a photographer, Dungannon does not offer as many nature and bird opportunities as other area state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA)
such as Bear Island (link to another my videos) and Donnelley, which are much farther south and in the highly acclaimed ACE Basin of South Carolina.

This old pickup truck on property adjacent to the trail was worth a few snaps.

Wonder how long the truck has sat here?


This old pick up needs some pick me up, for sure!








A picnic table near this bridge offers a nice break spot
About a mile or mile and a half into the trail there's a small bridge over a pond. Signage warns of alligators (didn't see any) and also directs to the Wood Stork rookery.







Swamp scenario is a nice break from the woods walk
Much of the trails here are through the woods, so there's not much to see except trees. But after the bridge, the lands opens up to some waterways.

Dungannon Plantation used to be just that- a plantation where rice was cultivated and slaves toiled away to make money for their masters.

This site goes into the history of this place. 



Eastern Phoebe








We did see a few types of birds, including this Eastern Phoebe, spotted first by Alesia amid some trees and branches.

A few other favorite bird photos to follow:




Little Blue Heron










Anhinga
A Little Blue Heron looking pretty big in this image.








The Anhinga is not on many most beautiful bird lists. But I have always found them expressive in their poses and postures.



Same Anhinga. This bird is also known as the Snake Bird and Water Turkey. And also is sometimes called an American Darter.

Wow, so many names!

I have witnessed the "snakebird" activity. In the water, this bird will swim beneath the surface with just its bill poking up, looking like a snake slithering across the surface.



This may be my favorite shot of the day: a "three-fer" showing a line of three birds, starting with the Anhinga, then a ways back is a Great Blue Heron, then in the back is a Great Egret.









One Dungannon trail goes to another bridge that offers a view of the swamp.  I have seen nests in this location too, but not on this day.

April and May are better times to see the Wood Stork nests and perhaps too Great Egret, Osprey and other large coastal bird nests.





We spent maybe three hours at Dungannon on this day, walking 4.5 miles.

It was a really great day, achieving plenty of exercise and enjoyable interaction with nature in such a peaceful and quiet setting.

See my 2010 post titled "Birds and Pigs, Oh My!" that is also from Dungannon.


That year I also had a wonderful encounter with this lovely yellow bird, the Prothonotary Warbler.












This was a lifer bird for me, meaning the first time I ever saw this type of bird, much less photograph one! 
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