Pinckney National Wildlife Refuge, Hilton Head SC

Birding bonanza and gators galore! A visit to Pinckney National Wildlife Refuge [1/2 miles west of Hilton Head Island off of U.S. Highway 278] is a nature lovers dream come true. Just outside of Hilton Head it is a must visit if you are in the area, and was a perfect place to stretch our legs on a road trip from Charleston to Savannah. I was surprised upon entry, no visitor’s center, no bathrooms, not even a water fountain? Hmpf. We started walking on a gravel path, seemingly ordinary, but it is worth it and things would get wild soon enough.

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_south_carolinaThere are 14 miles of trails in the preserve, an important link in the Atlantic Flyway. Soon we came upon a salt marsh, a scene filled with clickity clackity little crabs – okay, that’s pretty neat.

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_blufftonContinuing down the stretch the first place of serious interest is Ibis Pond. Here we found a rookery brimming with life.

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_5How exciting to see all of these big birds up in the trees! They were so active and boisterous. Taking a closer look there was quite the variety present. In the heron department there were green heron, black-crowned night heron, great blue heron, little blue heron, and most thrilling to me, the tri-colored heron!

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_3I had never even heard of the tri-colored heron before. I was so impressed by the vibrant blue beak and fabulous plumage. It’s always fantastic to discover a new bird. Other waterfowl including ibis, egret, hens, and ducks were included in the swampy scene.

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_1After gawking at all of the birds, we began to walk around the pond. We bumped into some other people who excitedly pointed out to us the teeny tiny gators that were sitting right on the shore. It was shocking how well they camouflage, but now that we knew what to look for – they started popping up everywhere!

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_So many little alligators enjoying the sun on a beautiful day! Having amazing luck, even though we had a limited time availability we decided to keep walking. We looped around Starr Pond and Osprey pond which had the loveliest scenery.

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_4There were certainly more birds and gators to be seen, and also, we spotted a sizable snake sitting by the shore!

Pinckney_National_Wildlife_Refuge_hilton_headPinckney is a true treasure, essential to the wildlife and extraordinary to the viewers.

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