Aiken Field Trip Schedule and Descriptions
Click ==> Map of meeting and field trip locations
|Friday, Sept 24||Saturday, Sept 25|
|Half-day Morning||Half-day Morning|
|Half-day Afternoon||Half-day Afternoon|
Essential Planning Notes for the Aiken Meeting!
- All field trips have a limit to the number of participants. Status of the field trips will be posted on www.carolinabirdclub.org. However, the status could change by the time your registration is processed, so be sure to indicate your second choices and check the list when you arrive at the hotel to see which trips you are on. If your first and second choice trips are full, you will be contacted to make another selection.
- Water and snacks are a good idea to take along on the field trips.
- All trips will leave from the hotel at the times indicated on the schedule.
- Participants will carpool from the headquarters hotel to the birding sites. If you have room in your vehicle to take old or new friends, please advise the trip leader. Similarly, if you desire to ride along with someone who is volunteering to drive, a contribution towards fuel is appropriate if driving distances are significant.
- As you visit businesses around town, consider letting merchants know that you are visiting as part of the Carolina Bird Club's meeting, and that you support the conservation of Aiken's natural areas.
Fall Meeting Field Trip Descriptions
- Trip 1 This trip is full: Gum Swamp Road & Horse Creek Water Treatment Plant
- Gum Swamp Road traverses the Savannah River swamp system on the SC side of the river. The road, which is partly paved and partly dirt, goes through hardwood and tupelo gum swamps, fields and deciduous woodlands. It is an excellent area in which to look for migrants. We will do this by driving and stopping to bird along the way. Bring your own lunch. At lunchtime we will drive a short distance to Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site for a picnic. There is a small store at Beech Island where you may buy something to drink. After lunch we will go to the Horse Creek Water Treatment Plant near North Augusta. Often there are a variety of shorebirds in one or more of the basins, and there is an interesting swamp at the entrance to the plant. An introductory safety/security talk at the visitor check-in station is given to all guests. This trip will be all driving and walking around near the vehicles.
- Trip 2: Stevens Creek & National Wild Turkey Federation HQ
- Stevens Creek is a SC Natural Heritage Preserve better known for its rich, deciduous Piedmont forest than for its birds. However, in addition to rare plants, it harbors migrating warblers and thrushes this time of year. The American Woodcock is a year around resident here. Another permanent resident, Bachman's Sparrow, is possible nearby; but it is harder to locate in the fall than in the spring. We will stop for lunch at the Old Edgefield Grill (moderate prices; bring cash or credit card) en route to the headquarters of the National Wild Turkey Federation near Edgefield. After a captivating talk, and seeing six dioramas about the phenomenal restoration and management of wild turkeys during the last half-century, we will walk one of the trails there to look for this noble gamebird and others sharing the same habitat. The driving loop is about 75 miles, with some walking at both sites.
- Trips 3 and 18 Trip 18 is full: Gum Swamp Road
- This trip will explore Gum Swamp Road, as noted above under Trip 1, but does not continue to Redcliffe or the treatment plant.
- Trips 4, 7, 14, 17 and 24 Trips 4, 7 and 14 are full: Phinizy Swamp
- Phinizy Swamp Nature Park is one of the great resources of this area, hence four half-day trips. It is 1,150 acres of award-winning constructed wetlands, the tertiary wastewater treatment for Augusta, GA, and pristine natural swamp with miles of trails, boardwalks and dikes. Look for fall songbird migrants, wading birds, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk and perhaps even a lingering Painted Bunting or Blackbellied Whistling Duck. You may also see alligators, otters and likely see many shimmering dragonflies and gorgeous butterflies, as well as viewing the splendor of these well-managed wetlands. This is a must-see!
- Trips 5 and 15 Trips 5 and 15 are full: Aiken State Natural Area
- Some of the best bay-swamp habitat in the state can be loaded with migrating warblers and thrushes. The edges of the Cabin and Fishing Lakes can also be quite good. Along the 3-mile trail be on the lookout for Wild Turkey, Red-headed Woodpecker, Whiteeyed Vireo, Brown-headed and White-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Warbler. Great Horned and Eastern Screech Owls might be found in the primitive camping area, although seeing one is a long shot during the daylight hours.
- Trips 6, 16, 22 and 23 Trips 6, 16, and 22 are full: Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary
- Another must-see! Hundreds of Wood Storks are here in late summer, and some have stayed until Thanksgiving in the past. The draw-down of Kathwood Ponds, which are managed for the storks, should also have a good variety of shorebirds. Rarer species like the American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt and White-rumped, Baird's and Stilt Sandpipers are occasionally seen. More likely are both species of yellowlegs and Solitary, Pectoral, Spotted and Least Sandpipers. Bald Eagles often are seen.
- Trip 8 Trip 8 is full: Lover's Lane & Levee
- This trip will be a drive down Columbia Nitrogen Rd. to a swamp that is good for waders and shorebirds. Proceeding down Lover's Lane past open fields and a new part of the Brickyard Ponds, we'll turn onto an unpaved road that goes through hardwoods, fields and swamps. From there it's up to the Augusta, GA, levee, which was built to provide flood protection from the Savannah River. Dirt was dug from the sides, creating “creeks” left and right. All of these sites are good for fall migrants. The trip is mostly by car with stops to get out and bird.
- Trips 9 and 20: Hitchcock Woods
- The Hitchcock Woods trips are cancelled due to a conflict with a special event at the site.
- Trip 10 This trip is full: Brick Pond Park
- This relatively new North Augusta park reaches to the Savannah River. As to be expected, look for any number of both waterbird and songbird migrants, as well as permanent residents in this splendid mixture on this broad strip of the Sandhills.
- Trip 11: Beaverdam Ditch & Brickyard Ponds
- Beaverdam Ditch was dug to get storm water away from Augusta, GA, and into Phinizy Swamp. The trail along the ditch goes through a hardwood swamp that is excellent for fall migrants. This part of the trip will be all on foot and will take most of the morning. After lunch at a fast food restaurant (or you can bring your own), we will go to the brickyard ponds that were created when clay was removed for making bricks. We'll check both old and new ponds for birds, mostly by car.
- Trip 12 This trip is full: Wings & Things At Silver Bluff
- See trips 6 and 16 above for a description of Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary, perhaps the premier birding site in the area. This trip will be for most of the day (bring lunch) and will feature creatures like butterflies and dragonflies as well as birds and all plants. A good deal of walking is to be expected, and you should pack a lunch, although soft drinks are available at the Visitor Center where we will picnic. The Saturday evening event, remember, is also at Silver Bluff.
- Trip 13: Fort Gordon, Georgia
- The only Red-cockaded Woodpecker colony in the area is on this military reservation. Because the woodpeckers leave the colony early to forage, we must leave our hotel at 6:15 am. After viewing these birds (hopefully!), we will bird other areas of this Army post, including upland pine forests, low-lying and wetter sites, as well as a usually-productive pond.
- Trip 19 Trip 19 is full: Lover's Lane & Brickyard Ponds
- This trip will be a drive down Columbia Nitrogen Rd. to a swamp that is good for waders and shorebirds. Proceeding down Lover's Lane past open fields and a new part of the Brickyard Ponds, we'll turn onto an unpaved road that goes through hardwoods, fields and swamps. Then it's on to the brickyard ponds that were created when clay was removed for making bricks. We'll check both old and new ponds for birds, mostly by car.
- Trip 21 Trip 21 is full: Crackerneck WMA
- The sprawling, 10,470-acre Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area is open non-consumptive use only (including birding) on Saturdays in September. A diverse mixture of habitats from open, parklike, longleaf pinelands, to bottomland hardwoods characterized by a switchcane understory, to swamps and oxbow lakes, provides for a diversity of birdlife. Great opportunities exist to see Fall migrants and Summer/permanent residents—quail and other grassland species, as well as waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. A 50-mile network of roads makes for a lot of birding by car, but there are no stores or restrooms.