Randy Bayne

A Morning at Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge

A Morning at Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge

It was way back in April when my wife and I visited Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge at Hilton Head, South Carolina. I shot almost 400 frames that morning and spent the next several weeks culling, processing, culling, processing, to get down to the several posted to my Website.

Meeting an American Alligator

Back in May I posted about one part of the trip involving an alligator encounter. It was a quick post written so I could get some links up and fill the deafening silence that had become my blog.

American Alligator

This was one of the more thrilling parts of my hike through Pickney Island NWR. The closest I can ever remember being to an alligator before this is the distance from my couch to the television while watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

The alligator was sunning itself on the trail as I was hiking though the refuge about an hour after sunrise. Being aware that it was around breakfast time, I put some deep thought into my decision to make a couple images and continue on the trail. The other choice was to slowly back away and return from whence I came. This was the fifth of five alligators I had seen, and the only close encounter. The others were swimming in a pond prowling for their first meal of the day. This one looked to have already eaten a good meal and didn’t seem interested in the human standing in front of (and I’m only guessing here) her.

Agreement with an Alligator

Meeting an alligator on the trail was not part of my agenda. Our eyes met. We connected. So, of course, I stayed put. It was like we had an agreement.

Alligator: “Look, I’m just here sunning myself after a big breakfast. As long as you don’t come any closer, I’m cool. Literally, I’m a cold blooded reptile.”

Me: “Sounds good. Mind if I make a few pictures?”

Gator: “Sure, what the hell. Make sure you get my good side.”

Me: “Thanks. I’ll be quick, then I’d like to continue on my way. Any friends along the trail I need to know about.”

Gator: “Nah. You’re good.”

I mean, how often do you get the chance to photograph a wild alligator? Especially one that is so cooler than a lot of humans about having their picture taken.

Breakfast at the Ibis Pond

It was breakfast time at the refuge when I arrived at the Ibis Pond just after sunrise. In the middle of the pond is a small island which serves as a rookery for the many species of birds native to this part of South Carolina. Here is the link to the gallery where you can see the shots of the parents and some of the babies.

I don’t have one favorite, but wild babies are always fun to catch on a camera sensor. Especially at feeding time. Here is one of a Snowy Egret family showing Mom feeding the baby. It looks pretty rough. Like she is trying to shove something down the chick’s throat.

Snowy Egret family

And here we have Junior begging for attention from Dad. “C’mon Dad, I’m hungry. Throw up something for me.”

Great Egret

There was an assortment of birds nesting on the island. I could list them all here but that would defeat one of the purposes for this post, which would be to get you to look at the gallery.

More Birds

Plenty of wooded areas provided habitat for smaller birds like this Painted Bunting. It was my first time see this colorful bird, and I made sure to get several shots.

Painted Bunting

They call it the Ibis Pond, but I did not see a single Ibis. Not one.

Explore a National Wildlife Refuge

Besides looking at my pictures, and perhaps buying prints, I think you should visit a national wildlife refuge They are great places to see the beauty of creation and experience wildlife.

If you find yourself in the Hilton Head, South Carolina area, take a little time to visit Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge.

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