June 1, 2000
Dear SCAN Members,
In spite of a day of oppressive heat and humidity, a good-sized group of SCAN members enjoyed our exploration of the Great Pee Dee River Heritage Preserve and the socializing that followed. Several members mentioned that they want to go back and explore some more; this property consists of 2725 acres, including seven miles of riverfront, so our little excursion barely scratched the surface!
In fact, the size of this Heritage Preserve is one of the things that makes it special. It has been identified by ornithologists as a “priority large area protection project”, and birdwatching SCAN members can now understand why. We heard birds singing all day long and were able to identify quite a few, including the hard to see Swainson’s Warbler as well as Prothonotary, Hooded, Pine, and Parula Warblers. Perhaps most unusual, we saw and heard singing American Redstarts, a species which is a very uncommon and local breeder in our coastal plain. Many of our breeding birds need large, unbroken tracts of forest in order to breed successfully. When forested areas are broken up by clearings, roads, and other disturbances, these birds suffer great losses to the nest parasite Brown-headed Cowbird as well as to other predators. As our human population grows, and more and more habitat is lost to development, places like the Great Pee Dee Heritage Preserve will become increasingly important as refuges for these birds and other species.
Birds were not the only specialty of the day, however. Insect watchers also had a successful day Saturday as good numbers of butterflies were seen. Perhaps most notable were the beautiful Zebra Swallowtails, and the clouds of American Snout butterflies that swirled around sunny patches of gravel in the road. Dragonfly admirers enjoyed seeing the striking Prince Baskettail, a large dragonfly with an unusual pattern of brown bars on its wings. We also visited an interesting archaeological site which is currently being excavated by researchers from USC. SCAN member Chip Helms has promised to let us know when the site will be opened next spring in case members would like to visit, or even volunteer to help with the project.
Finally, to complete a very special day, many of us drove to Society Hill for a delightful supper at the home of Mary Ellen and David Howell. The Howells along with Mary Ellen’s brother Chip Helms put on a delicious spread for us, and also graciously let us explore their beautifully restored historic home. We really appreciated the hospitality! We also want to thank our Regional Directors Loree Gandy and Pat Chaplin, as well as Mrs. Gandy’s daughter Gail, for arranging this trip.
Mary G. Douglass, President
Savannah River Bluffs Heritage Preserve, Aiken County
10:30 AM Saturday, June 24, 2000
The Savannah River Bluffs Heritage Preserve includes elements of both coastal plain and piedmont, with the coastal plain’s bald cypress and Spanish moss mixing with false rue and yellow wood, both piedmont plants. A one-mile trail along an old roadbed leads from 150-foot tall bluffs to the Savannah River. We cross a small meadow at the power line right of way; the rest of the way is woodlands/shade. The gorgeous site at the river has rock formations thought to be remnants of ancient Native American fishing weirs. Also there is a stream with a small waterfall. Come dip your net in the cooling waters at this secluded preserve just north of North Augusta.
Details: We will meet at the gas station on your right once you’ve exited I-20 at Exit 1. Park near the gas station’s car wash. From here we will have to carpool about a mile to the preserve (they only have room for two cars at their parking area). This gas station will be our restroom, as there are none at the preserve. We’ll hike approximately a mile to the Savannah River and back (two miles total). Don’t forget to bring some bug spray. There’s a popular Chinese restaurant 3 miles away in downtown North Augusta where we can meet afterwards for a late lunch.
Directions: Take Exit 1 from I-20, near the Georgia/South Carolina border, about 60 miles from Columbia. After exiting, travel about 0.1-mile southeast (toward North Augusta) on SC 230. Turn right into the first gas station. Park near the car wash.