Tag Archives: Birding Hotspots of Georgia

Cay Creek Wetlands Interpretive Center, Midway

Cay Creek Freshwater Wetlands Liberty County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Cay Creek Wetlands Interpretive Center is one of the best day trips in Coastal Georgia. Located at 189 Charlie Butler Road in Midway, the center has ample parking, picnic tables, and a boardwalk which covers several different ecosystems. It’s a place for reflection, as well as a haven for amateur naturalists, birdwatchers and anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Best of all, it’s free and open to everyone, through the daylight hours seven days a week. There isn’t an actual “center” as yet, but excellent interpretive signs located along the boardwalk provide ample information about the environment and its inhabitants.

Cay Creek Liberty County GA Freshwater Swamp in Transitional Coastal Wetland Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Your walk begins in a freshwater tidal swamp, full of oak, cypress, and bay trees. Irises were already sprouting in January (below).

Cay Creek Wetlands Liberty County GA Cypress Knees Iris Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

As the boardwalk reaches the observation tower, the freshwater swamp is intermingled with salt water. Almost a third of the tidal salt marshes on the Atlantic Coast are located in Georgia, along with many freshwater tidal swamps and marshes. Only specific plants are able to thrive in salt water environments, so the plant life begins to change, if subtly, in this zone.

Cay Creek Wetlands Intepretive Center Midway GA Boardwalk from Observation Tower Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

A short walk up the observation deck affords a birds eye view.

Cay Creek Liberty County GA Wetlands Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Just past the observation tower, the transition becomes more obvious, as marsh grasses begin to dominate the hammocks.

Cay Creek Brackish Marsh Intertidal Swamp Wetland Liberty County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

In winter, you’ll see the red berries of native hollies (Ilex).

Cay Creek Liberty County GA Native Holly Ilex Berries Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The last stretch of the boardwalk opens into brackish marsh, with the transitional swamp and marsh visible in the background.

Cay Creek Wetlands Liberty County GA Boardwalk Natural Area Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Here, you’re surrounded by marsh grasses and can smell the salt in the air.

Cay Creek Liberty County GA Intertidal Transitional Wetland Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Native cedars, often covered in lichen, are scattered around the marsh.

Cay Creek Liberty County GA Native Cedar Coastal Wetland Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

This is the view at the end of the boardwalk. You’ll want to return!

Cay Creek Liberty County GA Protected Wetland Intertidal Zone Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Raymond Cay (1803-1885), namesake of Cay’s Creek.

Raymond Cay Namesake of Cays Creek Midway Liberty County GA Historic Image Photograph Via Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

This was originally known as Salter’s Creek but was changed in honor of Raymond Cay’s nearby plantation.

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Midway GA

Winter Ramble at Harris Neck

Woody Pond prime waterfowl habitat rookery Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge McIntosh County GA Photograph COpyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

Woody Pond is perhaps the most popular spot for birding at Harris Neck, though there are many other places to ramble in this place that I consider one of the best-kept secrets of the Georgia Coast. Whether a birder, hiker, bicyclist or just plain nature aficionado, there is much to be seen.

Woody Pond Habitat with Palm Tree Harris Neck NWR McIntosh County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

Walk along the dam for a sure encounter with some natives!

Woody Pond Dam Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge McIntosh County GA Photograph COpyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

Very soon, the rookeries of the pond will be abuzz with new life. Wood Storks (Mcyteria americana) are a big presence here though not as commonly seen in winter. On that last day I visited, American Coots and Common Gallinules were the most populous residents.

Common Gallinule gallinula galeata Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata), Woody Pond.

The gallinules can be easily distinguished from the coots by their bright orange and yellow bills.

American Coot Woody Pond Harris Neck NWR McIntosh County GA Birding Hotspot Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

American Coot (Fulica americana)

Of course, the other big attraction at Woody Pond is the alligator population. But remember, don’t harass them!

Federal State Alligator Protection Sign no feeding or harassing Photograph harris neck national wildlife refuge mcintosh county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2014

You’ll generally see smaller ones in winter, but they live here year round!

American Alligator Young mississippiensis Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge McIntosh County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

American Alligator Swimming Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge McIntosh County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2014

Take nothing but pictures, and lots of good memories. You’ll want to return in the spring.

Oak Limb Spanish Moss in Woody Pond Harris Neck NWR McIntosh County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris_Neck_National_Wildlife_Refuge

 

 

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Harris Neck GA

Willet, Gould’s Inlet

Willet Tringa semipalmata Shorebird Winter Atlantic Coast Migrant Gould's Inlet St. Simons Island GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

The Willet (Tringa semipalmata) is one of numerous shorebirds you’re likely to encounter at Gould’s Inlet. It’s a great place to look for fall migrants.

 

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

Gould’s Inlet, St. Simons Island

Gould's Inlet St. Simons Island GA Beach Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Located north of the Coast Guard Station at the end of Bruce Drive, Gould’s Inlet is to me the most beautiful remaining beach on St. Simons Island. It is the opening of Postell Creek, which divides St. Simons and Sea Island. It is primarily known as a wildlife viewing area and is easiest to visit in the fall and winter, due to limited parking at the public access point. Currents and undertow here are known to be quite dangerous, so it’s not generally favorable for swimming. When I visited on a cool December day, it was as if the beach were reinventing itself through ribbons of sand, racing over the shore and changing shape in real time.

Gould's Inlet St. Simons Island GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

 

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Tolomato Island

Black-bellied Whistling Duck Accidental Dendrocygna autmunalis Tolomato Island GA Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Sragglers from their native Central and South America, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis)  have been expanding their range in recent years. There is a small but healthy flock in the pond beside the Tolomato Island causeway. They’re fascinating to watch and are generally not very wary of human presence.

 

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Tolomato Island GA