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Recent Visits to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

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Savannah – Both yesterday and the list time I’ve been in Savannah (23 September), I visited the Savannah NWR, but the visits have mostly been disappointing. The weather was dreary on both occasions and sightlines have been reduced due to vegetation growth. The interior of the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive is still drained except for the canals and that’s allowed a lot of vegetation to grow up along the banks of the canals, which blocks the view of anything that may be in the canals or on their banks. That said, on yesterday’s visit I did notice that some of the brush (including small trees) that have been growing up along the road have been cut and that some bush-hogging has been done. Another observation from yesterday is that they’ve begun to flood the low areas between the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive and the Raccoon trail in preparation for the arrival of migratory waterfowl. Hopefully they’ll do the same with the interior soon and the aforementioned vegetation will be reduced.

On 23 September, I visited by myself and saw very little. The tide was high, which usually means you don’t’ see very many wading birds. I did see a couple of Great Blue Herons, I missed one in a tree above me; it startle me when I unknowingly startled it and I wasn’t able to catch a photo. The other was on a fallen tree over one of the canals along with a Snowy Egret and some White Ibis. I only saw four alligators on the 23rd, only one of which was out of the water.

 

If this Alligator was a submariner, I guess he would be at snorkel/periscope depth

If this Alligator was a submariner, I guess he would be at snorkel/periscope depth

 

A Snowy Egret perched on top of a piling mostly submerged by the high tide

A Snowy Egret perched on top of a piling mostly submerged by the high tide

 

Hiding among the lily pads

Hiding among the lily pads

 

Little Blue Heron foraging along the near bank of the Diversion Canal

Little Blue Heron foraging along the near bank of the Diversion Canal

 

This alligator was easily the largest one I saw on both visits

This alligator was easily the largest one I saw on both visits

 

Great Blue Heron, Snow Egret and White Ibis (one is immature) perched on a fallen tree during high tide

Great Blue Heron, Snow Egret and White Ibis (one is immature) perched on a fallen tree during high tide

 

Yesterday, I visited with my father and we saw a bit more than what I did alone on the 23 September. The weather was dreary again and once again the tide was high, which once again meant a lack of wading birds. In the same spot I saw the Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and White Ibis last time, we saw what appeared to be the same group of birds. This time there was an additional Snowy Egret trying to join them on the fallen tree but the Snowy Egret that was already there was having none of it! It puffed up and got aggressive with the second one when it landed, then they had an aerial chase around the canal! We doubled the number of Alligators I saw last time, seeing 9 on this visit. Most of them were relatively small, the large ones must have been hiding. Some of the tall swamp grass is starting to die off and some of the hardwoods are beginning to change color, so migratory waterfowl season is almost upon us! As I mentioned above, it appears they’re already preparing one area of the refuge for them.

 

This Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and White Ibis  photographed on 2 October could be the same ones from 23 September; they're at the same spot at least

This Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and White Ibis photographed on 2 October could be the same ones from 23 September; they’re at the same spot at least

 

Alligator making a turn in the Diversion Canal

Alligator making a turn in the Diversion Canal

 

Alligator making speed in the Diversion Canal

Alligator making speed in the Diversion Canal

 

Alligator cruising along the Diversion Canal

Alligator cruising along the Diversion Canal

 

I cannot wait until the ducks, coots, etc. start arriving at the Savannah NWR and Harris Neck NWRs. Fall and winter are my favorite times of the year, and part of those times of the year are getting to visit and walk the refuges and see the migratory waterfowl!


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