14. Go Birdwatching
In December 2012, the local chapter of the Audubon Society conducted their Annual Christmas Bird Count. It revealed 152 bird species and a total of 38,003 birds.
Large blue herons and white egrets pose handsomely beside lagoons and marshes. Dark and spooky anhingas look magnificent as they stretch their wings out to dry, and gulls and sandpipers scold you on the beach. Both the amateur and the avid birdwatcher quickly recognize Hilton Head as a prime place for birding.
All species of herons, egrets, and ibises seen in North America are present in the Hilton Head area. The casual bird lover will see plenty of feathered creatures on almost any guided nature tour. Guides and naturalists will be able to identify the most common species for you.
For more specialized birding, two places on Hilton Head have qualified with the State of South Carolina as “Important Birding Areas”: Ibis Pond in the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge and Lake Mary in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Both sites are home to densely populated rookeries in springtime. Another ideal birding location is the 50-acre Audubon Newhall Preserve on Palmetto Bay Road. It has a two-mile walking trail system. You will see a wide variety of plants and trees as well as itinerant birds. A trail guide is available in a kiosk at the entrance for a self-guided nature walk. The preserve is open during daylight hours. Parking is available. There is no entrance free.
Birding is so popular and such an essential part of the Lowcountry experience that most guided ecotours include bird watching as part of their excursions. You can tour by kayak or on boats ranging in size from small six-passenger canopied boats to sailboats to double-deck excursion boats. Most nature tours are offered daily year around.
Commander Zodiac (843) 671-3344
Dolphin and Nature Cruises (843) 681-2522
Dolphin Seafari (843) 785-2345
Flying Circus (843) 686-2582
Historic Savannah Waterfront Photo Safaris (843) 524-3037
Island Explorer (843) 785-2100
Kayak Hilton Head (843) 684-1910
Live Oac Adventures (888) 254-8362
Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris (843) 524-3037
Outside Hilton Head (800) 686-6996
Palmetto Bay Marina ( 843) 785-7131
Palmetto Bay Water Sports ( 843) 785-2345
Pau Hana (843) 686-2582
Salt Marsh Photographic Cruises (843) 681-3728
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