Friday, July 07, 2006

Georgia Jackpot

We're back from Georgia after 5 days of fun in the sun and humidity of Georgia. We spent the first few days an hour or so west of Atlanta. We got to visit the Georgia Aquarium and saw the 4(!!!) Whale Sharks there. Amazing! If you get to Georgia, go here! We spent a few days with Beth's Georgia family (Hi Brenda!) where we hung out with the family, ate some great food, and even went rollerskating. We then drove to Savannah. In Savannah we toured the city and ate some amazing low country cooking by Paula Deen and Mrs. Wilkes. Savannah is a great historic town and I highly recommend visiting there.

On our last day we drove north towards Charleston, SC. Upon crossing the border, we saw signs for the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. We turned off the highway and were quickly on the nature loop drive around the refuge. The refuge is mostly marsh habitat with tons of American Lotus and Water Lilies this time of year. We stopped the car to look at some wildflowers when a Least Bittern popped out of the marsh and circled us several times. I noticed an insane amount of dragonflies flying around. Every available perch seemed to host a dragonfly of some kind. The most abundant appeared to be Four-spotted Pennants. While observing the dragonflies, I heard an unknown high-pitched call to my left. I looked up in the sky and was amazed to see one of my most wanted birds in the world... a Swallow-tailed Kite! Then another... and another... and another! Four kites quickly passed overhead. They circled a few times and then were gone. It was an unforgettable experience.

We continued on the trail and saw many different wildflowers including Blue Vervain, Pickerel Weed, and Prickly Mallow. We also saw Common Moorhens, Wood Ducks, Tri-colored Herons, tons of Cattle Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Great Egrets.

Along one stream we encountered 5 Alligators! When one got close to a Moorhen, I was hoping he would eat it, but no luck.

Later on the drive, I noticed about a dozen raptors in the sky. They turned out to be Mississippi Kites feeding on the abundance of insects. They were quickly joined by some friends and soon there were literally 100 Mississippi Kites over our heads. Ten of their Swallow-tailed brethren joined them and it was an unbelievable sight to see. Kites were dashing this way and that, doing loop-the-loops and feeding on the wing. My description can't do this experience justice. Check out a mediocre video I took.

For a trip on the whim to this refuge, it created several experiences that I will treasure.

Cattle Egret


MojoMan said...

What a fantastic trip! Is that your photo of the kite? Amazing!

Patrick Belardo said...

Yep, I actually took that pic. It's the one good photo of the many I took. It's a severely cropped photo also. It was a fantastic trip. Thanks!

cpbvk said...

That's good to know about the Whale Sharks in Aklanta. I'll make a point of hitting that aquarium the next time I'm there. Thanks!!