Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

Robin Carter

Directions

From I-95, exit at Hardeeville (Exit 5), and go south on US 17, towards Savannah, Georgia. At 6.1 miles south of the interstate you will reach a split in US 17. Here bear right (west) on SC 170. The entrance to the auto tour road is about 2.5 miles ahead on the left.

Birds to look for

Snow Goose (w), Wood Duck, Gadwall (w), American Wigeon (w), American Black Duck (w), Mallard (w), Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal (w), Northern Shoveler (w), Northern Pintail (w), Green-winged Teal (w), Ring-necked Duck (w), Lesser Scaup (w), Hooded Merganser (w), Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American Bittern (w), Least Bittern (s), Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Clapper Rail, King Rail, Virginia Rail (w), Sora (w), Common Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, American Coot (w), Greater Yellowlegs (m, w), Lesser Yellowlegs (m, w), Wilson's Snipe (m, w), Forster's Tern, Least Tern (s), Great Horned Owl, Sedge Wren (w), Marsh Wren, migrant warblers, Savannah Sparrow (w)

Description

The easiest way to bird Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is to drive along the four-mile Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, stopping frequently. The route follows dikes through numerous freshwater impoundments, and along the edge of tidal freshwater marsh (part of the delta of the Savannah River).

Here and there along the tour road are small islands in the marsh, called hammocks, heavily forested with live oaks, hackberries, red maples, and other trees. These hammocks concentrate small birds, and are especially good to bird during spring and fall migrations.

You can sometimes find good birds along the dike trail around Impoundment 18, at the southern edge of the refuge. To reach this area take the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive for about 2.5 miles. Here the drive takes a sharp turn to the left. Just before this turn is a side road, which crosses the main diversion canal of the refuge and deadends in about 250 yards. Turn right onto this side road, cross the canal, and immediately park. Walk the dike trail on the south side of the diversion canal. Go west for about a quarter mile, to a hammock. Here take the left fork, and follow this trail as it loops about a mile around Impoundments 18 and 17.

A good spot for Purple Gallinule (April–October) is along SC 170 east of the beginning of the wildlife drive. Look for a gravel fishermen's parking area on the north side of SC 170, next to a small grove of willows. Look over the marshy impoundment and down the canals.

The hammocks are good for migrant warblers, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak in April-May or September-October. Some of the rare birds that have been found on the refuge include Red-necked Grebe, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Tundra Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Long-tailed Duck, White-faced Ibis, Limpkin, Yellow Rail, Black Rail, Upland Sandpiper, Ruff, Groove-billed Ani, Short-eared Owl and Cave Swallow.

Links

Nearby hiking trails: Tupelo hiking trail

Map

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