Marie McAden



Santee Refuge offering free bird migration walks this fall

Posted 10/1/2012 11:30:00 AM

Leaf peepers aren’t the only ones making plans for fall travel. Those crazy continent-crossing migratory birds are starting to head south from their summer digs to hunker down for the winter in South America.

That means its prime bird watching time in South Carolina. To make your avian outing more fruitful, Santee National Wildlife Refuge is offering free fall migration bird walks Oct. 13 and Oct. 20.

The guided trips will be led by Charleston-native Nathan Dias, the driving force behind the Cape Romain Bird Observatory. One of South Carolina’s top birders, he holds the state’s record for seeing the most bird species in a single year.

Dias will be taking participants into the refuge’s Bluff and Pine Island units in search of Empidonax Flycatchers, multiple Thrush species, American Kestrel and other birds of prey, rare warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Bobolinks and Painted Buntings.

Last October, rare bird sightings also included a Vermillion Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler and Clay-colored Sparrow.

Participants will meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center before heading out to the wilderness for a full morning of bird watching. Be sure to pack your binoculars, a field guide, sunscreen, water and snacks.

Click here for directions or call Park Ranger Susan Heisey at (803) 478-2217 for more information.

If you can’t make it to one of the walks, the rangers at the Visitor Center will be happy to fill you in on what’s being seen this fall in the preserve. You’ll also be able to pick up a map of the refuge’s hiking trails and Wildlife Drive.

Established in 1941 as a sanctuary for migratory birds, Santee National Wildlife Refuge encompasses approximately 13,000 acres of habitat along the banks of Lake Marion in four separate units. The Visitor Center is located in the Bluff Unit, seven miles south of Summerton on U.S. 15/301.