|Taken when I arrived (before getting all hot and sweaty)|
It had been several months since I trekked to one of the basin’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs ). I found some free time one day recently and with the prospect of soon having to deal with another hurricane (Dorian), I grabbed my camera and bug spray and headed south on Highway 17 to the Hollings National Wildlife Refuge. It’s about an hour drive from my house.
The day was warm and I was eager for a lot of walking and sweating if that’s what the weather brought (and it did). It was an enjoyable two hours on the trails, very quiet and peaceful. I came away with many nice photographs.
The house shown above is Grove Plantation. It is one of the few antebellum mansions that still stands in the region. Today it houses offices for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel who maintain the vast 12,000 acres of the Hollings refuge. On weekdays it is open for visitors to come in and get information. There are restroom facilities near the Grove house. But that's it as far as amenities. This place is remote and rustic. It's just you and nature.
The birding on this day was pretty good. The highlight was seeing the unique silhouette of one of my favorite birds, the Swallow-tailed Kite. I was wondering why its head seemed tucked down. Later at home seeing the photos on a large screen, and looking at online pictures, I realized the kite had a critter in its clutches. It may have been a grasshopper.
I was able to photograph a few other types of birds. Clockwise from above left (two rows up) is an Eastern Wood Pewee, a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds, a Brown-headed Cowbird and two Great Egrets. I also spotted a raccoon a few times. At one point the critter started walking right toward me before thinking the better of it. Startled me!
I used my Apple Watch to record how far and long I walked and other data. Here are some of the statistics: Total time: 1:59:25. Total distance: 3.42 miles. Average pace: 34 minutes, 52 seconds per mile. Average heart rate: 120 bpm. Elevation gain: 13 feet (very flat, it's called the Lowcountry for a reason). Weather: 89 degrees with 55 percent humidity. Total calories burned: 545.
I pray Hurricane Dorian will not be too rough on the ACE Basin or anywhere (or anyone) else in the Charleston area.