Bear Island Wildlife Management Area
From the intersection of SC 303 and US 17 in Green Pond go northeast (towards Charleston) for about 3 miles. Here turn right (south) onto Road 26, Bennett's Point Road. Follow Bennett's Point Road south for about 13 miles. The main entrance to the area is located on the left (east) approximately 1 mile after crossing the Ashepoo River. A green highway sign marks the turn from US 17 onto Bennett's Point Road.
Birds to look for
Canada Goose (w), Tundra Swan (w), 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), Canvasback (w), Redhead (w), Ring-necked Duck (w), Lesser Scaup (w), Bufflehead (w), Hooded Merganser (w), Ruddy Duck (w), Northern Bobwhite, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican (w), Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American Bittern (w), Least Bittern (s), Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron (s), Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier (w), Golden Eagle (w), Merlin (m, w), Peregrine Falcon (m, w), Clapper Rail, King Rail, Virginia Rail (w), Sora (w), Common Moorhen, American Coot (w), Black-necked Stilt (s), Greater Yellowlegs (m, w), Lesser Yellowlegs (m, w), Least Sandpiper (m, w), Short-billed Dowitcher (m, w), Long-billed Dowitcher (m, w), Wilson's Snipe (m, w), Bonaparte's Gull (w), Gull-billed Tern (s), Black Tern (m), Caspian Tern (m, w), Royal Tern (m), Forster's Tern, Least Tern (s), Black Skimmer (m), Eurasian Collared-Dove, Great Horned Owl, Common Nighthawk (s), Chuck-will's-widow (s), Loggerhead Shrike, Sedge Wren (w), Marsh Wren, American Pipit (w), Savannah Sparrow (w), Seaside Sparrow, Painted Bunting (s)
Bear Island is one of the best birding areas in the state. In addition to common birds of the Coastal Plain and the specialties listed above there is a long of rarities seen here, including—among others—Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Common Goldeneye, Eared Grebe, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Rail, American Avocet, Hudsonian Godwit, White-winged Dove, Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, Western Tanager, and LeConte's Sparrow.
The main part of Bear Island is open to birders Monday through Saturday, from 1 February through 14 October. At other times birders are restricted to areas right along Bennett's Point Road, including Mary's House Pond, which is just south of the residences by the main entrance. Do not go in to closed areas, even if the gate is not locked, or you risk getting a ticket.
The best birding is usually along the main unpaved road east from Bennett's Point Road, called either Titi Lane or Johnnie Hiers Road. A good strategy is to drive in along Titi Lane and then park and walk in along any of the many side roads. The side roads are usually gated. If you have time you might also want to check one or more of the roads that lead west from Bennett's Point Road. It takes more than a complete day to check out the entire area.
The village of Bennett's Point, at the end of Bennett's Point Road, is usually worth a quick check. Eurasian Collared-Doves are more common in the village than in the wildlife management area, and there has been a White-winged Dove with the collared doves in Bennett's Point on more than one occasion.